LIVINGSTON, NJ — A full version of the proposed 2016 Municipal Budget was introduced without public comment during a Livingston Township Council meeting on March 14. The budget, which outlines what is in store for Livingston in 2016, will be voted on and potentially adopted after a public hearing on April 25.
Under the proposed budget, which was introduced on Monday by Township Manager Michele Meade, the total increase for the average Livingston homeowner in 2016 will be $43.53, or just under $4 per month. According to Meade, the most useful way to determine whether municipal services provided by a community are relatively expensive or inexpensive is to compare the average tax bill to surrounding communities. Based on last year’s average tax bills out of the 22 municipalities in Essex County, Livingston has the fifth lowest.
Livingston’s average municipal tax of $234 per month purchases all of the things seen in the 2016 Municipal Budget, including public safety, road maintenance, trash removal, street lighting, health services and more.
“As always, our primary objectives in the formulation of the annual municipal budget are to provide quality services at an affordable price while enhancing a long-term fiscal stability for the town,” said Meade. “The actions that we have taken and will continue to take are reflected in this proposed budget.”
In summary of the 2016 budget proposal, state-tax appeals remain a significant challenge for the township’s financial operations. However, the amount of surplus used to support budget operations has been reduced from $500,000 in 2015 to $400,000 in 2016 and more surplus has been retained for financial stability.
In addition, building permit activity and revenues have increased significantly, the township’s tax base has increased for the first time since 2009 and all service levels are being maintained at an affordable price.
According to Meade, the formulized goals for the budget and fiscal operations are as relevant today, in 2016, as they were in 2011. Some of these goals include moderating increases in property taxes and providing the necessary revenues to fund budget operations by developing reliable sources of local, non-tax revenue, and ensuring that township employees on all levels are willing to take the necessary actions to successfully meet the challenges that the town faces to meet the perennial budget objectives.
“To add perspective to the 2016 budget discussion, it’s important to keep in mind that this budget effects only the municipal portion of the tax rates,” said Meade. “The township’s long-term goal is to completely eliminate the use of surplus as a revenue to support the budget. So we’re moving in the right direction.”
This year, the township will receive a donation of $1.3 million from Saint Barnabas for improvements to the Madonna Athletic Field. Debt Service Reimbursements of $725,000 will also be received from the Livingston Community Partners, which includes the Business Improvement District, the Board of Education, the Township Utility Fund and the General Capital Fund.
Inter-local revenues of $139,000 will be received from the Township of Millburn and the board of education. Livingston is also anticipating $121,000 in grants this year from police recycling and recreation.