CRANBURY, NJ – As the budget discussion wound down and came to a close, Mayor Dan Mulligan looked around at his fellow Township Committee members.

“My last comment, we just all voted to raise our taxes,” he said, to a round of chuckling.

By a unanimous vote, the committee adopted an $11.1 million municipal budget during Monday night's meeting, which features a 2-cent tax rate increase per $100 of assessed valuation.

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Of the total budget amount, $7,299,227 is the amount to be raised by taxation, up by about $349,215 from last year, according to the document.

Under the spending plan, the homeowner with the average home assessed at $604,091 will pay about $120.81 in additional municipal taxes this year.

Overall, this year's operating budget is more than last year's by $129,130, while debt service is down by $18,428, according to the document.

Using total figures, the budget increased by $183,043 from last year.

Township Administrator and Chief Financial Officer Denise Marabello gave the budget presentation, outlining the township's challenges for the upcoming fiscal year.

With a number of projected capital improvement projects on the horizon, the amount allocated for the capital improvement fund and capital projects jumped from $30,000 last year to $94,555 this year.

Such projects, which are projected to occur beginning this year and lasting until 2020, include a multi-use parking lot on Park Place, lake maintenance, road patch repairs, police pistol replacements, affordable housing, major road repairs, lake dredging, Petty Road and bridge repair and sewer improvements.

Total assessed value for the township increased by $9,777,715, and the amount budgeted for reserve for uncollected taxes increased as well, by $9,741.

At $467,020, state aid accounts for four percent of anticipated revenues, while surplus makes up 10 percent at $1,099,400.

Eleven percent of the total operating budget is made up of state mandated expenses, including pension obligations, library funding, Planning Board member training and affordable housing expenditures, according to the presentation.

“We really think, with all the factors we just discussed, that that is a fair tax increase for the year,” Marabello said, as she finished her presentation.

The municipal budget does not take into account the school tax, however, according to Board of Education Secretary Nicholas Bice, the proposed school tax rate is 1.05, meaning that the average taxpayer with a home assessed at $604,091 would pay $6,336.59 in school taxes this year.

The proposed school tax rate increase is 1.62 percent, however, the net tax increase would be zero due to a decrease in the school district's debt service obligations, Bice said.

According to the presentation, this year's municipal budget was developed with four objectives in mind: keeping controllable operating expenses manageable, controlling surplus spending, monitoring assessed value and maintaining a level of service that makes the township a desirable place to live.

Committeeman Jay Taylor was absent from the meeting.

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