Government

Raritan Approves Municipal Budget, Taxes Rise Only Slightly

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RARITAN, NJ - The Raritan Borough Council has approved a 2014 budget with taxes only increasing by about half a cent.

“That is virtually flat,” said borough administrator Dan Jaxel. “With the school taxes going down, I think we’re going to be in a good position overall.”

The tax rate in 2013 was about 0.613, so it will be about 0.618 this year, Jaxel said. That translates to an additional $17 in the municipal tax bill for the average home in Raritan.

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“Last year, residents paid an additional $27 from the year before,” he said.

The budget itself, Jaxel said, is $10,275,747 for 2014, up from the 2013 budget approved at $10,196,180.

Jaxel said the borough will probably have to amend the budget in the coming months to account for incoming grants, but that will not affect the tax rate.

Among changes to the budget, Jaxel said, are the fact that employees are contributing more to health insurance than in the past. In addition, he said, they are expecting uniform construction code fees to decrease because the Stonebridge project is pretty much complete.

“If we get fees great, but we want to be prepared if we don’t,” he said. “We can wind down from the revenue stream.”

As for salaries, Jaxel said, the budget includes 2 percent increases for white collar workers, as required by contracts, as well as negotiated 1.5 percent increases for public works workers.

The borough also approved the cap bank ordinance, which allows them to have extra money banked in case of emergency. They don’t budget to the cap bank, but it allows for an increase above the state mandated 2.5 percent cap for budget increases without going to referendum to request it.

“It is not an actual number of dollars, it is a number on paper,” Jaxel said. “If we pass the cap, we can go to that (higher) cap ceiling in future years without going to referendum. But we don’t try to budget up to the ceiling.”

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