CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Township Committee unanimously adopted its 2020 municipal budget at its meeting Thursday, an increase over the 2019 budget of 1.4 percent. The amount to be raised by taxes is $9.9 million, an increase of 12.6 percent.

For the average Chatham Township taxpayer with a home assessed at $823,000, the 2020 municipal budget will increase taxes by $230 for the year.

Chatham Township Administrator Robert Hoffmann said the budget includes upgrades to the heating and air conditioning systems at both the municipal building and the police department, with the township saving $215,624 through PSE&G 70/30 Program.

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Through the 70/30 program, PSE&G will pay for 70 percent of the total cost of $308,034. Chatham Township Deputy Mayor Tracy Ness applauded Hoffmann for the deal that she said "did not exist" three weeks ago.

Hoffmann explained that the amount to be raised by taxes went up because the township construction office had a loss of $125,000 in revenue and the township had lost $115,000 in revenue from leases. The budget also includes necessary expenditures on upgrades in technology, as well as $3 million for the purchase of property in order to meet third-round affordable housing obligations. Chatham Township's state aid remains flat at $836,467.

In addition, the township used less of its surplus to defray costs. In the 2019 budget, the township used $3,500,000 of its surplus but reduced that to $3 million in 2020. Resident Tom Patterson, former mayor of Chatham Township, put forth questions about the budget via the Zoom conference call during the public portion of the meeting, including inquiries about the use of surplus funds

Patterson asked how much was left of the surplus and Debra King, Chatham Township's chief financial officer, confirmed that $500,000 was left after the $3 million commitment to the 2020 budget. If Chatham Township had matched the $3.5 million from 2019, there would be no surplus left.