BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. - The decision of whether to build only a municipal center on Park Avenue or to buy property owned by the Church of the Little Flower on Hamilton Avenue and sell the church the library seems to come down to a straight financial decision, not an emotional one.
 
According to figures presented by the township's Chief Financial Officer Michael Marceau, property taxes to support the plan to build a new municipal complex on land owned by the township on Park Avenue will add an estimated $240 to residents' property tax bills. That is called  "Scenario #2"  
 
 
Scenario #1, building the "Park Avenue Municipal Complex and Townhouses at Hamilton Avenue," according to the handout presented to residents, will add an estimated $70. Under that scenario, the township would buy the Hamilton Avenue property belonging to the Chuch of the Little Flower and sell the church the township's library; create a redevelopment plan for the Hamilton Avenue property, sell it to a developer and build the municipal complex on Park Avenue. 
 
According to Marceau, the difference in cost to residents comes from monies received by the township when the Hamilton Avenue property is sold to a developer for an estimated $10 million. 

 
In both scenarios, the cost of the new municipal complex remains the same, $27,234,000.
 
In Scenario #1, he added the agreed upon net costs of the land purchase, $2,845,000 to the estimated cost of the Park Avenue Municipal Complex, $27,234,000, and subtracted the estimated sale price of the Hamilton Avenue property, $10 million.  That leaves $20,079,000 to be financed by the township.
 
In Scenario #2, the township keeps its current library and there is no income to offset the costs of the construction of the new municipal complex, so the township will need to finance the full $27,234,000. 
 
The increases were calculated on the "average assessed residence" which is currently $308,100 - a figure which translated into a "fair market value" of $550,179, according to the handout.
 
Those who want to calculate their individual tax impact should multiply the "fair market value" of your home by .56 (56 percent), then multiply the assessed value by a factor of 0.00077 to get the tax impact.  
 
The township would issue Bond Anticipation Notes then, after no more than six years, convert the debt to bonds. "We want to get the debt down" as quickly as possible before the bonds are issued, Marceau said.
 
There were questions about the ability to forecast where rates would be in six years, 2022, and Councilman Kevin Hall said, "If the rate structure changed, we could go to bonding (earlier) to save money."
 
Hall indicated that the next meeting would not only focus on the Plan C proposal for the municipal complex on Park Avenue but also on the tax impact for residents.
 
Click here to see related handout from Aug. 4 Township Council Meeting.