BERNARDS TWP. , NJ - This year's proposed Bernards Township municipal budget, which overall reduces the local municipal tax rate by a tenth of a penny, is one of the items on Tuesday night's Bernards Township Committee agenda, along with final consideration of $1.42-million of already appropriated funds for long-term projects such as road projects and more.

The public portion of the meeting is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. at town hall at 1 Collyer Lane in Basking Ridge. The Township Committee is scheduled to meet beforehand in a closed-door executive session starting at 7 p.m., according to information from the Bernards Township clerk's office.

Township officials already provided an overview of the proposed budget in February, The 2018 budget preview posted on the township website says the municipal portion of the overall township property tax rate would drop by a tenth of a penny, to 29.3 cents from the 29.4 cents per $100 of assessed property value in 2017.

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The proposed budget totals $19,924.291.84, a slight reduction from $19,967,477.38 in 2017.

Final reading and adoption of the budget is scheduled for the April 10 municipal meeting.

At the last meeting, resident Todd Edelstein said the public should have had an opportunity to comment on the budget proposal after the overview presentation, and have had an opportunity to ask questions.

"It's kind of a big shell game," he said, noting that the township's open space tax of 4 cents on the property tax rate had ended at the end of 2017 budget, but the 2018 budget does not reflect that reduction.

Prior to the overview, the township's Chief Financial Officer, Terri Johnson, said that many road and capital improvement investments had been put off in previous years in anticipation of the end of the open space tax. 

"This is the first budget that transfers focus from open space to infrastructure...focus(ing) on projects put off for the last few years," Johnson said at last month's Township Committee meeting. Much of the increase is for road improvements, as well as for the replacement of crumbling pedestrian bridges, according to township officials.

Among the other items that would be funded in the proposed $1.42-million capital improvements ordinance are vehicles for the department of public works, police equipment, sidewalk and bikeway improvements, and funding of a pedestrian safety study.