CLARK, NJ - When the Clark Township Council approved the 2017 municipal budget in early April, they did so knowing property owners faced a tax increase unlike they have seen in recent years.

“In 2016 we had $1,600,000 in available surplus to offset property taxes,” Mayor Sal Bonaccorso explained.  “In 2017, we only have $1,100,000 available, a $500,000 decrease.”

What does that mean for a property owner in the township?  Property owners will see an increase of approximately $187 per $100,000 of assessed value, Bonaccorso said.

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Bonaccorso pointed to tax appeals  of approximately $1,000,000 as the root cause of the increase. The lion’s share of the appeals stems from a settlement with Racer Trust Company over taxation at the Hyatt Hills Golf Complex.

Additionally, the township anticipates a reduction in other revenue that offsets property tax liability. The township will collect approximately $547,000 less in licenses, fees, state aid, court fees, construction fees and sewer utility surplus fees in 2017.  Of that amount, nearly $500,000 is attributed to a reduction in sewer surplus, Bonaccorso said.

“If our prior revenues remained the same, our tax increase would have only been $291,459, which is 1.88 percent and well below the 2 percent levy cap,” Bonaccorso said.  The township’s 2017 municipal budget totals $22,516,693.26pdf.

At Wednesday’s Clark Chamber of Commerce meeting, Business Administrator John Laezza addressed the budget head on.

"Over the last 17 years we have had one of the lowest, if not the lowest, tax increase in all of Union County year after year,” Laezza said. “This year we might be closest to the top. The residents of Clark will have a significant tax increase this year.”

Bonaccorso commended the township’s department heads who accepted cuts in their operational budgets to minimize costs while maintaining “services that are necessary to protect health, safety and welfare.”

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