RANDOLPH, NJ - At Thursday’s meeting, Township Manager Stephen Mountain and Randolph CFO Darren Maloney introduced the 2017 budget, announcing the township lowered taxes by $21.55 for the average home value. However, many taxpayers will not see that exact decrease due to the revaluation.

“This budget calls for no increase in the municipal tax levy,” Mountain explained. “Just to put that into perspective… In 2016 the average residential house value was assessed at $335,400. In 2017, the post-revaluation residential home value was assessed at $487,500. The municipal tax rate is proposed at 0.509 and when you apply this to the post-revaluation average assessed value, the average residential taxpayer will pay $21.55 less in taxes in 2017.”

According to the budget document, the 2016 average home value resulted in $2,501.44 in taxes, while the 2017 average homeowner will pay $2,479.89.

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“Darren Maloney and I prepared this budget with the goal of maintaining a stable level of taxation for the municipality in 2017,” Mountain’s budget message read. “It is always difficult to illustrate the impacts of a tax rate in a revaluation year.”

The public hearing for the budget will take place during the April 27 meeting, and Mountain will provide a more detailed presentation of the budget at that time.

The budget focused on maintaining the high level of service expected in Randolph and significantly investing in infrastructure of the township, such as roadways and sewer.

“I just want to make a point that our infrastructure has to keep on increasing,” said councilman Michael Guadagno. “I want to ensure we have enough to be aggressive with our water and sewer and new pipes and projects… I think that’s where the town should really strengthen its infrastructure.”

While the Sewer Fund ended 2016 with over $9 million in surplus, this surplus will be used to pay down debt,fund the upgrade of the Meadowbrook Pump Station and complete the final phase of the Butterworth Improvement project.

Maloney presented a review of the township debt and open space trust fund, stating the township is in a “good position to fund the parks plan.”

He explained that the Open Space Trust Fund will need to be monitored each year because of the many variables in funding, such as project cost changes, decrease in ratables and increased interest rates.

However, in preparing the budget they made conservative assumptions by keeping ratables flat and a projected interest rate increase of 4 percent.

“The big projects are all out in front of us,” Mountain said. We will be carefully evaluating them as we go forward. We both realize that if projects come in above budget, one of two things has to happen: either budgets have to be shaved back in terms of scope to fit into the budget, or if we decide to go to a higher amount something else has to give.”

The council members thanked Mountain and his team for putting together the budget document.

“The old expression says, ‘nothing’s certain but death and taxes’,” said Deputy Mayor Mark Forstenhausler. “And most people are certain that taxes go up every year, but for us to actually have a budget here that the average home will go… down $21.55 without have any cuts is really great.”

“I want to thank everyone behind the scenes,” said Mayor Christine Carey. “You come to these meetings, and it looks kind of easy, and you don’t realize everything that went into it, and how hard it was, and all the work.”