Government

Municipal Budget in Livingston Introduced with Less Than 2 Percent Property-Tax Increase

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LIVINGSTON, NJ — When all appropriations are considered, the total municipal budget proposed for 2017 as it was introduced at the Livingston Township Council meeting on Monday would be $43,801,489, which, if adopted, would increase the local purpose tax rate by 1.9 percent—or an estimated increase of $53.35 for the average Livingston homeowner.

According to Acting Township Manager Russell Jones and new Chief Financial Officer Kim Kientz, the proposed budget total is $166,212, or 0.4 percent lower than the budget adopted for 2016, which was the tightest municipal budget adopted in Livingston since 2004. The $53.35 property-tax increase for the average homeowner comes out to approximately $4.50 per month.

“The 2017 municipal budget has been prepared with the primary objective of providing quality services at an affordable price to maintain fiscal stability in accordance with the township’s financial policies,” Jones said.

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A summary of the 2017 municipal budget is as follows:

Non-tax revenues are anticipated to increase by $183,077, or 2.1 percent in 2017 as compared to 2016. According to Jones, this excludes the receipt of the $1.3 million donation from Saint Barnabas in 2016 for the new Madonna Field.

Anticipated revenue from surplus upon the operating expenses will increase by $50,000 compared to last year. According to Jones, additional surplus funds of $500,000 are anticipated upon tax appeal refunds.

“The township is continuing its program to reduce reliance on surplus funds, which is another step toward not relying on using the fund balance on regular operation expenses,” said Jones, adding that now that surplus use for ongoing operations has been reduced, more surplus has been retained for the purposes of working capital to fund emergencies.

Overall local revenue anticipated in 2017 is budgeted for $237,720 higher compared to local revenues anticipated in the 2016 municipal budget, with an increase of 4.8 percent.

“Increasing local revenues has been a primary budget goal during the last seven years,” Jones said. “Since 2010, local revenues supporting budget operations have increased by $1.2 million, or 30.9 percent. In 2017, we anticipate receiving $116,053 in local revenue, which is an increase of $29,000, or 20.9 as compared to 2016.”

According to Kientz, state aid payments will remain at the same level as they have been since 2010. State payments are increasingly referred to as “state aid,” she said. State aid is anticipated to remain at $10,810.

With regard to surplus, the township has steadily increased surplus reserves in recent years, according to Jones. By reducing the amount of surplus used to support operations in the 2017 budget, the amount retained is anticipated to be about $520 million—the highest level since 2002.

According to Kientz, the most significant cost increases include municipal debt service, salary and wages, employee group insurance, tax-appeal refunds and solid waste collection and disposal. The most significant decreases, she said, are tyranny contributions and the energy cost in utilities.

The total number of regular township staff numbers increased to 282, including 219 full time employees and 63 part-time employees.

Due to a new shared services agreement with the township of Millburn for human-services administration, the budget associated with local programming was increased by $29,000, or 11.2 percent in this budget.

In addition, pool, water and sewage utility budgets were all balanced with minimal increases.

“I just wanted to acknowledge Kim Kientz, our new CFO,” said Mayor Shawn Klein. “We’re very happy to have her. Kim was instrumental in getting all this together and we appreciate her efforts.”

In addition to introducing the budget, the council also proposed an ordinance to exceed the 2017 municipal budget appropriation and to establish a cap bank with the purpose of allowing for a state-authorized increase in budget appropriation cap from 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent.

The proposed budget will be read as a public hearing in April. 

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