NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Borough Council President Michael Gennaro provided a PowerPoint presentation on the 2016 budget at Monday night's council meeting. The council unanimously passed the proposed budget. Councilman Robert Munoz did not attend the meeting.
Gennaro explained that the municipal portion represents only approximately 20 percent of the total property tax bill. The county tax portion is approximately 21 percent while the school tax constitutes the largest portion of nearly 60 percent of the total property tax bill.
The borough’s objective is to maintain essential municipal services, such as fire and police departments as well as the Department of Public Works (DPW). The borough is seeking out “efficiencies to contain operating costs and overhead.” It also strives to keep the municipal tax increases affordable. Borough officials are actively seeking grants to fund operations and various capital improvement projects. The borough is using a five to ten year planning model for capital and maintenance projects. The 2016 budget is a foundation for future budgets. The borough is also maintaining adequate funding levels of reserve accounts for tax appeals and snow removal, Gennaro explained.
In order to gain savings, the borough continues to explore shared service opportunities. The borough has a shared service agreement with Westfield for Board of Health Services resulting in $24,000 annual savings. The DPW has equipment sharing contracts and the borough has a new Shared Dispatch Service agreement with Summit and Millburn. New Providence also shares Municipal Court services with Berkeley Heights with annual savings totaling $86,000.
New Providence has also a wastewater service agreement with Summit which yields $185,000 in revenue. The borough also receives $38,000 in revenue from Lucent Waste Water agreement. Last year the borough negotiated the Union County Solid Waste agreement which adds $40,000 annually into the borough’s coffers. The borough also accrues savings through reverse electricity and natural gas auctions.
Of the approximately $19 million municipal budget a total of approximately $12.3 million will be raised by taxes. The municipal tax increase for the average accessed borough home valued at $282,000 will go up $42 this year. Including the county and school taxes the total tax increase to the average accessed home will be $222. The 2016 property tax totals $13,289.00 for a home valued at $282,000. Gennaro pointed out that the average home value represents approximately 50 percent of the market value.
Gennaro also provided a comparison of property taxes in Union County municipalities. The comparison reveals that New Providence has the third lowest average municipal tax rate in the county. Only Berkeley Heights and Scotch Plains residents pay lower municipal taxes.
New Providence will tackle capital projects this year with a value of approximately $4.6 million. Approximately $4.4 million will be financed via municipal bonds issuance. The capital projects include repaving the Murray Hill Railroad Station parking lot, Oakwood Park renovations as well as Wastewater Treatment Plant improvements. It also includes equipment purchases for Police and Public Works Departments. Additionally, road paving is planned for Central and Marion Avenues among other projects.