DENVILLE, NJ -- Denville Township Business Administrator Steve Ward reported on the township's current budget and financial status during the Sept. 15 Denville Township Council meeting. Ward said that, despite the pandemic, the financial status of the municipality remains very strong, with the tax collection rate being almost identical to last year’s.
“There’s a one-tenth of one percent difference in the collection rate,” said Administrator Ward.
“Remarkably, it’s actually one-tenth of one percent higher this year. So, the revenue anticipated through tax collection is meeting projections.”
“There are a couple items of revenue that as you would anticipate have seen lower than anticipated collections; municipal court fines and fees obviously during the heart of the pandemic, there just wasn’t a lot of cars on the road. There wasn’t a lot of activities in the courts. And with the pandemic, the administrative offices suspended court dates for a significant period, but they are operating virtual again. But that item is down year after year, about $190,000 again through August 31 of 2019 to 2020.”
Ward said that in 2017, the township earned $33,613 of interest on its deposits, which increased to $133,392 the following year, and then to $241,756 in 2019. However, due to the coronavirus, interest rates of the Federal Reserve dropped to a near zero. Therefore, as of August 31 this year, the township had earned $72,000 less in interest than it had for the previous year. Therefore, by the end of 2020, the township is projecting a roughly $120,000 decrease in interest on deposits.
Ward also said that the coronavirus has affected construction, with the Construction Department collecting only $27,000 less in 2019 and compared to 2020, since township residents are more indoors, focusing on home improvements requiring permits from the Construction Department.
Administrator Ward also spoke on appropriations and how this too is affected by the pandemic.
“There are hundreds of appropriation line items in a budget,” said Administrator Ward.
“One of those many line items is our legal expense line item. Due primarily to the affordable housing litigation and to a lesser extent due to the civil lawsuit the township filed against the property owner at 199 Diamond Spring Road and 19 Oak Street, we have spent (appropriated) much more than anticipated in 2020 to legal related expenses.”
“Suffice to say, despite revenues being down, appropriations are also down in a lot of areas. Due to the coronavirus, a lot of municipal-sponsored activities have been canceled or curtailed and therefore we are not spending as much money. These reduced events also often result in reduced overtime.”
Ward further said that $75,000 will be added to the budget for the affordable housing litigation, with administration looking to do a transfer resolution in November.
Administration will be sending out a budget memo in the next two weeks, and administrative budget hearings will start at the end of October and early November.
Among resolutions approved during its meeting, the Denville Township Council approved several mayoral appointments, including Jenna Curran, for the Green Sustainability Committee and for the Municipal Alliance; and David Andrews, for the Community Emergency Response Team and for Social Services.
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