RANDOLPH, NJ – The Randolph Township Council approved its 2019 budget at Thursday’s meeting while highlighting that municipal taxes remained flat for the third year running.
Township Manager Stephen Mountain said keeping the tax rate flat for three years in a row is “no easy accomplishment.”
One of the drivers of the feat of municipal prudence is restraining the township’s expenses each year.
“We’ve done a very good job over the last several years at keeping the operating budget at a relatively low growth rate,” Mountain said.
This year’s operating budget is just over $32.5 million – a .85 percent increase, or $273,035, compared to last year – which represents a minimal growth rate for such a large budget, he said.
According to Mountain, municipal taxes represent just 15 cents of every tax dollar Randolph taxpayers spend each year.
“I’m very happy with the results,” said Deputy Mayor Christine Carey. “Fifteen cents on the dollar for all we get living in Randolph is great.”
Mountain attributed much of the success of the budget to the township’s robust shared services program.
He gave the example of the communications and dispatching costs that are now absorbed by the county but were once paid for by the township. In recent years, the township saved double-digit percentages each year on that item alone.
“That’s just one shared service so if you take all of these and if you were to extrapolate out what these services would be if we weren’t doing them as a partnership, you’d be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional costs in our budget,” said Mountain.
Councilwoman Joanne Veech said she thinks that the manager was underestimating the value of shared services to the township.
“I don’t think it’s hundreds of thousands,” she said. “I bet its more than a million dollars if we didn’t do that and I would suggest we continue to look for ways to do more of that where it makes sense.”
Another factor in keeping costs down is the township’s ability to maintain its AAA bond rating, which only a handful of municipalities in the state benefit from.
“I think everyone did a great job,” said Councilman Mark Forstenhausler. “Our goal over the past few years has been to hold the line on taxes, and I think we’ve done a great job.”