BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Township property owners with a home assessed for tax purposes at the "average" value of $631.828 will see an increase of $62.23 on their municipal tax bill this year, after the Township Committee, as expected, adopted a $38.6 million budget for 2015.

The needs to upgrade roads and other aging infrastructure is a contributor to this year's budget, as well as an issue needing to be addressed in coming years, township officials said during budget discussions at Township Committee meetings throughout the spring.

Another cost the township has had to absorb is the $638,355 spent on cleaning up from wintry weather so far in 2015, according to Township Chief Financial Officer Terri Johnson.

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"Additional funding for road improvements and infrastructure is our primary focus, but pension and insurance costs continue to rise," Johnson added in in an email this week.

The 2015 municipal budget was unanimously adopted by the Bernards Township Committee on April 28. The figures did not change from when the budget was introduced on March 24, Johnson said that night. 

The amount to be raised by local taxes to fully fund total budget appropriations is scheduled to increase to $18.8 million this year, up from $18.29 for 2014, the township's figures say. According to figures the township had placed online, last year's average home assessment was $610,582.

Although the township capital fund rose from about $2 million to $4.7 million, a chunk of that amount, $1.6 million will be paid for by $1.1 million to be used from reserves in the open space fund, coupled with another half-million dollars raised by the sale of pieces of open space to be preserved by Somerset County, officials said. That amount cover most of the $1.7 million cost of installing synthentic turf fields at Mountain Park. That amount, as well as money set aside to replace the fields when they wear out, is supposed to be covered by user fees paid by those who play on the fields.

The township's open space tax will end as of 2017, and after that time the township hopes to have an opportunity to beef up the roads account, Johnson noted earlier in the spring.

Johnson said the 2015 municipal tax rate is now 24.2 cents per $100 of assessed property value. She said the 2015 library tax rate is 3.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. The library's budget is governed by a state formula.

Earlier this year, online township figures said that the municipal budget accounts for 12.6 percent of local property tax bills. 

Taxes to support the local school system account for about two-thirds of local property tax bills, with the second largest piece of the pie, more than 16 percent, paying for Bernards Township's assessed contribution to Somerset County's budget.