RARITAN, NJ - With less than a $1,000 increase over the 2017 local tax, Raritan Borough is preparing for a public hearing April 24 for the 2018 budget.

According to Mayor Charles McMullin, local tax for municipal purposes in the proposed budget is set at $7,368,050, less than $1,000 more than the local tax in 2017.

The budget is set at $12,485,213.93, a 14 percent increase over the 2017 budget of $10,897,968.70.

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“This is the third year that the municipal tax rate is flat,” McMullin said. “The governing body’s discussions with the municipal departments had been challenging yet productive to arrive at this budget.”

McMullin said there were a number of improvements made around the borough in 2017, including the repaving of Sherman and Bell avenues, and the installation of speed-reducing devices along the roads.

“As stated last year, these were experimental in nature,” he said. “Pleasantly, the residents have found these devices effective in reducing overall speed. Motorists have also found them to be user-friendly.”

McMullin said they are planning to install these speed devices on other roads throughout the borough.

In addition, McMullin said, the borough spent 2017 on the demolition of uninhabitable structures on Orlando Drive, Route 202, Route 206 and Tillman Street.

“Also, the Raritan Land Use Board worked through double sessions of meetings to responsibly act upon LabCorp expansion, the Transit-Oriented redevelopment project on Second Street and Quick Chek’s applications at the former Gateway Motel property,” he said.

In addition, McMullin said, the Route 202 frontage between Second Street and Anderson Street is scheduled for construction in 2018.

“As soon as these initiatives are added to our tax rolls, they will help keep taxes stable in our community,” he said. “Challenges do remain for the governing body, especially with the closure of the supermarket in the Raritan Mall. We have coordinated with the new owner to make improvements to the property, and we continue to proactively work to secure new businesses.”

In terms of county projects, in 2017, Somerset County constructed Veterans Park in Raritan, next to the John Basilone statue.

As for grants, the borough has already applied for about $825,000 in grants, and been awarded $435,000 so far.

The public hearing on the budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 24 at the municipal building, on First Street.