BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ The Bernards Township Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing and take a final vote on this year's proposed $41.9-million municipal budget and an introductory vote on a $4.9-million ordinance _ mostly for road, sidewalks and bridge construction _ at its third 'virtual' public meeting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. 

The meeting is again planned to be held via Zoom video conferencing, and to be televised and streamed live online. The public can submit comments or questions on the budget proposal and other topics to municipalclerk@bernards.org.

The meeting, which will display Zoom views of Township Committee members and officials, is set to be televised on Optimum/Cablevision channel 15, Verizon FiOS channel 35, and to be livestreamed on the Bernards Township website.

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The agenda, which is posted on the Bernards Township website, includes a second and final presentation on a proposed $41.9-million municipal budget that would raise the municipal tax portion of local property taxes by $26.36 on the "average" home assessed at $611,873 if approved by the Township Committee on April 28,

The municipal portion only contributes less than 15 percent of the total municipal tax bill paid each year by township taxpayers. "The overall operating increase for 2020 is 0.39 percent," Chief Financial Officer Sean McCarthy said in an email on Monday afternoon.

If approved the municipal portion of the tax rate would increase to 30.9 cents per $100 of assessed property value, up from $29.7 cents in 2019, according to a "user-friendly" presentation posted on the township website. The amount to be raised by local taxes to support this year's municipal budget will be $20,715,876 for 2020, compared with $20,314,913 in 2019, according to township figures.

The agenda also includes a scheduled vote to introduce a $4.9 million ordinance to earmark already budgeted funds for long-term capital projects, including engineering projects that would include road improvements and reconstruction, sidewalk and drainage improvements and work on pedestrian bridges and paths. 

When the proposed 2020 municipal budget was introduced at the March 24 meeting, McCarthy assured officials that just setting the money aside for possible capital investments does not obligate the township to spend the money if funds are needed for other purposes this year. The same applies for the operating budget this year, McCarthy affirmed on Monday afternoon.

The second largest long-term investment in the capital improvement ordinance would be $445,000 for Department of Public Works projects and equipment, including roadway repairs, guardrail repair and replacement, small equipment, and more.

The proposed ordinance also would budget $288,785 for the purchase of various emergency vehicles and equipment for the volunteer Basking Ridge Fire Company, $245,000 for repairs and improvements to the following township owned buildings: the engineering services building, the health department, police headquarters, the municipal budget and a number of parks and recreation facilities.