SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Township Council held their budget meetings earlier this month.  Local taxes are anticipated to increase by 1.42 percent, according to Sparta Township CFO Grant Rome. 

Due to the most recent township wide tax evaluation, the average home is now valued at $370,700 down from $371,031 in 2016.  The impact to the average home is an increase of $35.54 for a total of $2161.18.  The tax increase on an average home in 2016 was $2125.64.

Salary and wages make up the largest part of the appropriations pie at 34 percent.  The reserve for uncollected taxes was decreased by $322,963 because last year Rome was anticipating an increased rate of tax appeals with the new assessments.

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The department seeing the largest increase is Health.  Representing 1.51 percent of the appropriations, the increase is in anticipation of the town council’s decision to withdraw from the county health services.  Rome said if the council decides not to withdraw he would simply move the money to the county budget. 

“We are covered either way,” Rome said.

Rome said the council is considering a hybrid of local resources and outsourcing to recreate the health department in Sparta. The Health Department has historically provides a variety of services from administering flu shots to septic inspections.  He said the move would allow for “more local control and more accountability.”

Roads get nearly $30,000 more in 2017, moving the budget to $2,233,570.  “With the new microsurfacing process we can cover more roads,” Rome said.  The process allows the road budget to be stretched to get more roads resurfaced, though it is most appropriate “for secondary or neighborhood roads.”

Capital Improvements is getting a 20 percent increase.  In that Rome said there are some funds allocated for “improvements to town hall, possibly a dump truck and road mower.”  Additional funds will go to recreation improvements including “finishing field three at Station Park and some fencing and trees.”

In recent years the council had passed a resolution that encourages “pay as you go, rather than use surplus or bonds,” Rome said.  This year less than 38 percent of the surplus will be used, well within the 50 percent self-imposed limit according to Rome.

The tax rate is broken into three major components: local school tax 64 percent, local municipal tax 18 percent and county tax 17 percent.  The municipal library tax is 1 percent. 

Both the library and county taxes are showing a decrease, though the county tax would increase to 18 percent of the budget, if the council decides not to withdraw from the county health services.  The school tax is increasing to the two percent levy cap.