BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater Township Council is planning to introduce a number of amendments to the proposed 2017 budget, including one that will not increase taxes.
The budget, as introduced in early March, was set at $43,604,621.89 for 2017, a 0.3 percent increase over the realized 2016 budget of $43,447,365.18.
It originally called for an increase in taxes of $17.16 for the average house assessed at $425,900.
The tax levy was set to increase 1.92 percent over the 2016 budget.
According to Councilman Filipe Pedroso, amendments are being planned that would create a $0 tax increase for residents, as well as increasing investments into capital improvements.
Bridgewater Chief Financial Officer Natasha Turchan has said that creating a $0 tax increase would require an elimination of more than $400,000 from the budget.
The planned amendments will eliminate the increase in taxes, creating a flat budget over 2016.
“We believe the budget overall will have substantial enhancements to the public good, and will not increase taxes,” Pedroso said. “It will also have more investments into capital improvements and roads, and those are things that I believe are important to the public.”
The amendments will include increases in investments in roads, sewers and infrastructure. It is expected to be an increase of $600,000 in investments, over the $5.5 million already currently included in the budget.
In addition, Pedroso said, an amendment to the budget will allow the township to invest in substantial community enhancement projects, including the Lane Brokaw House, on Milltown Road, which dates back to the 1700s.
“With these budget amendments, the council is recognizing the two most important issues to many Bridgewater residents, affordability and improved infrastructure,” Pedroso, who is on the budget subcommittee with councilman Howard Norgalis, said in a release. “Residents deserve both, and we’re proud to be able to deliver for the people that have entrusted us with the fiscal management of their hard-earned tax dollars.”
“We are doing so in a way that is fiscally responsible and will not impact services provided by the township,” he added.
Amendments are planned for introduction at Monday’s council meeting at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal building on Commons Way. The council budget subcommittee is still working through last minute changes in preparation for the anticipated introductions Monday.
“I applaud the work done by councilmen Howard Norgalis and Filipe Pedroso to closely review the budget and find ways of making sure we are prioritizing those things that are important to our residents,” councilman Matthew Moench said in the release. “Eliminating the tax increase while also increasing investment in our infrastructure responds to the needs of our residents.”
“We should not simply accept tax increases as inevitable, and this year, we can do without one,” he added. “This helps to keep Bridgewater affordable for all of our residents, and especially for our low income and fixed income residents.”
Public hearing and final action on the budget amendments and the budget as a whole will be scheduled after the introduction of the amendments.