SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Township Council members are sharpening their pencils as they will consider the proposed 2017 $54.8 million budget.

Township Manager Bernie Hvozdovic and CFO Joe Monzo presented the draft spending plan during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The proposed budget represents an increase in the tax rate of 3.8-cents per $100 of assessed valuation, or an increase of about $76 for the owner of a home valued at $200,000, officials said.

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Monzo told the council that most of the proposed budget consists of contractual obligations and only $2 million, or 3.7 percent are increases based on the requests of the various departments.

He said there are four areas of “significant” cost increases in the draft spending plan consisting of group health insurance rising $771,000, an increase of about 9-percent for the year, COAH affordable housing related expenses at about $1 million, which is split between the general fund and the affordable housing trust fund, an increase of $426,000 in garbage and recycling expense due to a new contract and an added expense of $370,000 to make payments on open space purchases.

These items alone make up around $2 million, he said.

Monzo said the township fared a little better on tax appeals compared to prior years, but will still lose about an average of $91,000 during the budget period.

“We are still at a level of 6-percent less value than we were in 2006,” he said. “Our ratable base is 6-percent less than it was 11 years ago.”

Despite the first increase of 1.3 percent in the overall township assessment base this year, the largest increase so far this decade, the municipality is still down about 6 percent from 2006, he said.

Monzo said the town is the sixth lowest municipal tax rate in the county at $ 0.81 per $100 of assessed value.

Council members will now meet with several departments and try to pare the increase down before approving the plan, officials said.

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