BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Unless the municipality can delay its scheduled tax payments to the Bernards school district and Somerset County, quarterly property tax bills will still be due on May 1, despite Gov. Murphy's executive order allowing towns the option of extending a grace period to June 1, the township's mayor said on Wednesday.

The governor's earlier executive order "gives municipalities the option to delay [quarterly] property tax payments due from May 1 to June 1, and does not automatically take effect for all residents," Mayor Jim Baldassare said. 

He added that, "Unfortunately, the township is still required to pay what is owed by statute and no relief has been given on these required obligations."

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The township's municipal staff is responsible for collecting the entire local property tax bill, and then dividing up and distributing funding to entities that make up other portions of the tax bill, with the Bernards Township school district receiving the largest share, or almost 66 percent, of all property tax funds collected. The municipal budget is funded by slightly more than 14.6 percent of local taxes collected from property owners.

Specifically, Baldassare said the municipality is as of now required to make upcoming payments of: $7,686,769.83 to the Bernards Board of Education as of May 1, and then the same amount on June 1. He said the township is also obligated to pay second quarter taxes to Somerset County's government of $6,180,238.15 as of May 15. 

"Should Bernards Township be provided deferral relief with regard to our obligations to pay what is owed, the township would undoubtedly be in a position to pass this relief along to our township residents as well," Baldassare said. 

A day earlier, on Tuesday, the Bernards Township Committee unanimously adopted a $41.9-million municipal budget for 2020. Township officials said then and at an earlier meeting that they were planning for a possible increase in delinquent property tax payments because of financial stresses resulting from the current COVID-19 pandemic. At an earlier meeting in April, the Township Committee approved floating up to $10 million in tax anticipation notes to cover in case a large percentage of residents are unable to pay their property tax bills.