BERNARDS TWP., NJ - With preliminary figures already presented on the township website, the Bernards Township Committee plans to introduce the local municipal budget at the March 15 Township Committee meeting. As of now, the proposed $37.14 million budget for 2016 is due to be presented for adoption at the April 12 meeting.

The budget, as initially discussed at the Feb. 23 meeting, is slightly lower than the 2015 municipal budget, which added up to $38.82 million in appropriations.

However, township figures show that the proposed budget would increase municipal taxes by $42.62 on the average township home. which is valued at $631,951 for this year.

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[Information added]  Under the spending plan as now presented, the municipal tax rate for 2016, including the township library would be 28.3 cents per $100 of assessed property value, compared with 27.6 cents per $100 for 2015, said the township's Chief Financial Officer, Terri Johnson.

If the budget is adopted as presented, the average home in Bernards Township would pay $2,040 in municipal taxes for 2016; an increase from $1,997 in 2015, according to township figures.

The figures presented by Johnson show that revenues coming into the township's coffers are $142,604 less than last year. The figures from the township attribute that reduction to a $158,178 less coming in from taxes for new construction; local taxpayers would make up that deficit if the budget, as presented, is approved.

At the same time, the township is mandated to pay $70,339 more for pension costs this year, as well as another $51,191 for library support, as calculated by a state formula, the township's budget figures show.

Other increases on the table include a $317,700 more than last year for capital expenditures to address an aging municipal infrastructure, for a total of $3.44 million; and $80,434 more for the local reserve for uncollected taxes.

Township officials again, as in previous years, presented figures showing that most of the local property tax bill, can be attributed to the township school district.

A pie chart presented by Bernards officials said that in 2015, 65 percent of local property bills in Bernards Township went to pay for township schools, while the municipal budget was responsible for 13 percent of the property tax bill. Another 17 percent was appropriated for Somerset County taxes, as well as two percent for the local library tax, and four percent for the municipal open space tax.

Four cents due to drop off local property tax rate at end of 2017

[Information added]  The municipal open space tax, which adds four cents per $100 on the local property tax bill, expires at the end of 2017, Johnson said. Officials have said at previous meetings that they do not intend to renew the dedicated tax.

Statewide, according to the township chart, municipal services were responsible for an average of 28 percent of local property tax bills, with an average of 52 percent of statewide property tax bills going to support the local schools.

[Information added]  Taking into account estimated increases of two percent for this year, the total property tax rate for Bernards Township for 2016 would add up to $1.92.5 per $100 of assessed property value, Johnson said in an email on Monday.