NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — No drop-off in municipal services and higher taxes.
Those are the key takeaways from New Brunswick’s 2017 municipal budget. The City Council adopted the $91.3 million spending plan last week, May 3, after a sweeping revaluation tweaked property values and the city’s tax rate.
“All of our programs continue to get funded through this budget,” City Administrator Thomas Loughlin III said, adding that the budget meets state-imposed tax levy and spending caps.
Last year’s municipal budget totaled roughly $2 million less than that of 2017, according to city documents.
More than $33.8 million will be raised in local taxes, including the library tax, to support the budget, according to the document. That represents an increase of about $1.5 million from last year.
A revaluation across New Brunswick altered property values, expanding the city’s ratable base from $1.3 billion to $3.3 billion, according to the budget.
That undertaking has also changed the tax rate. Last year, property owners paid roughly $2.50 per $100 of assessed valuation, a figure that has been changed as values climbed.
The tax rate is set to rise this year by 4.93 cents to 99.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, according to the budget. That means the owner of a home assessed at the city average of $271,200 would pay an additional $133 in municipal taxes this year.
But the city budget makes up just a portion of a resident’s property tax bill. Middlesex County and New Brunswick’s public school district, which also raised taxes this year, are the other major contributors.
The budget provides for the hiring of five new police officers in the face of three pending retirements from the force, Loughlin said. He said the city also intends to hire an emergency management coordinator in the fire department and a coordinator to oversee the abandoned-property registration program.
Barring unforeseen retirements, New Brunswick doesn’t intend to hire new firefighters this year, Loughlin said.
The budget accounts for contractual pay increases to the blue-collar unit, firefighters, police and management, he said.
New Brunswick plans to undertake a number of capital improvements this year.
That list includes engineering and design work for upgrades to Livingston Avenue and two new public parks, heating upgrades to the Joyce Kilmer House, the addition of bocce ball courts and improved landscaping at the senior center and a $500,000 overhaul of the Buccleuch Mansion.
New Brunswick aims to do “a significant amount of paving,” Loughlin said. That includes “many roads” in the Rutgers Village neighborhood, along with several in the downtown business district, he said. (Here’s the full list.)
The city has earmarked more than $4 million for upgrades to the New Brunswick Water Utility, Loughlin said. That money will pay for filtration improvements, new meters, a water main overhaul in Rutgers Village and renovations at the treatment plant.