SCOTCH PLAINS: Municipal property taxes in Scotch Plains will increase 1.96 percent under the new municipal budget approved Tuesday, on a night when Republican Mayor Nancy Malool surprised the township council by announcing her resignation.

Malool, who is in the final year of her first four-year term, told the council she’ll be stepping down to take over as the director of shared services in the State Department of Community Affairs.   She said taking the state post means no more local government. Her name, however, will remain on the ballot due to the timing of her decision to resign.

Earlier this month,  Malool said she would run as an "off the line" candidate in the June 5 GOP mayoral primary after the Republican Party asked her not to run and backed Deputy Mayor Mary DePaola instead. Malool served six years on the council before becoming mayor.

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The announcement followed the unanimous vote to adopt the $23.59 million municipal budget, which will increase the municipal tax rate to $1.459 per $100 of assessed value,  2.8 cents more than last year’s rate. Adding the funding of the municipal library to the equation, the increase inches up to 2.9 cents, officials said.

For the average homeowner in Scotch Plains – that’s someone with a home assessed at $121,800 --  the municipal tax rate will increase $34, from $1,743 last year to $1,777 this year, officials said. The same homeowner will also pay $164 to fund the library operations.

The budget, which calls for $22.22 million in expenditures, will  be funded by $14.44 million in local  property taxes. The rest of the revenues include $2.2 million in state municipal aid, $1.64 million in miscellaneous revenue, $725,000 in delinquent tax receipts, $570,000 in uniform construction code fees, $200,000 in open space debt service, $100,000 in capital surplus and another $100,000 in local sewer surplus funds. Though the council unanimously supported the overall budget, the council was still divided on the concept of what to do with sewer surplus money.