RANDOLPH, NJ - Municipal taxes will remain the same for Randolph residents 2018 according to the township budget introduced at Thursday’s council meeting.
The 2018 Municipal Budget and Capital Improvement Program totals $32,295,169, which is a $372,034 increase over the 2017 budget. However, with a growing tax assessment base and “good financial planning and management,” the tax rate stayed level, according to Township Manager Stephen Mountain.
The Water and Sewer Budget (budgeted at $8,179,890) remains separate from the municipal budget because user fees fully fund the budget.
“It is important for the council and members of the public to understand that while we always make minimizing tax impacts a goal, a level tax rate is not always possible or prudent,” Mountain said. “After careful consideration… we are comfortable in presenting a budget this year that achieves this outcome.”
The budget document presented to the council and public also showed the percentages for different aspects of property taxes. For the average Randolph taxpayer, the school district budget represents 69.49 percent of property taxes, municipal budget is 15.19 percent and the county is 10.38 percent. The remaining goes toward the Reserve for Uncollected Taxes, the Library fund and the Open Space/ Recreation fund.
When the council does receive excess dollars, they choose to spend it on “projects that have a singular purpose,” Mountain explained. “That if, in future years, a revenue stream were to decline, [those funds] were not tied to a program or a growth in staffing that now has to be undermined or retracted.”
The budget contains several cost drivers bringing it to the $32 million total. Salaries and wages represent 30 percent of total expenditures; however, the number has gone down due to retirements, personnel changes, finalizing union contracts and maintaining the full-time staff headcount.
“We are definitely doing more with less today than if you looked at a budget from a decade ago,” Mountain said. “You would see a lot bigger staffing number. We are taking advantage of technology, taking advantage of a really strong workforce to do more with less.”
The 2017 ordinance change in leaf hauling also significantly impacted the budget this year. “Despite the lower than anticipated costs in 2017, we have chosen to maintain the budgeted amount,” Mountain detailed in the budget document. “We would like to have a couple of years of experience with the new rules before making any further adjustment to the budget.”
Capital improvement highlights include continued road resurfacing, retaining wall replacements, the park on Calais Road and replacement of the turf fields at Freedom Park.
“The 2018 budget will enable the township to continue to meet the public’s demand for excellent municipal services,” Mountain said. “It also provides support for a range of initiatives designed to enhance or maintain the community’s essential infrastructure.”