UNION, NJ – Municipal taxes for the owner of an average house in Union will increase by $65 under the 2020 budget introduced by the township administration to the mayor and Township Committee at a public hearing on Monday.

The tax rate growth reflects the highest increase since 2016.  Last year’s increase was $47.  The $65 increase does not include school district and county tax rates, which have not yet been finalized.

The proposed $102 million budget comes in at about 3.2 percent higher than the 2019 spending plan, at a total budget increase of $3,176,471, said the township’s Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Semler.  

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It is anticipated that the budget will be adopted at the March 24 Township Committee meeting.

At the budget presentation meeting, the township’s Business Administrator Don Travisano outlined the township’s budget goals.  A summary of goals and action items is listed below:

  • Demonstrate best financial management practices and fiscal responsibility
    • Create and present the 2020 municipal budget that keeps the tax levy increase below the 2% Tax Levy Cap and 2.5% Approrpriations Cap.
    • Maintain township’s AA+ bond rating
    • Monitor capital debt management to maintain long term financial health
  • Maintain and upgrade critical township assets and infrastructure
    • 35 roads within Township to be paved and or re-constructed in 2020 capital budget; negotiations underway with gas company for additional roads to be paved.
    • Work with designated architect on plans to renovate main library while awaiting state library grant applications.
    • Upgrade public safety equipment including apparatus, vehicles and life saving equipment.
    • Maintain/upgrade DPW equipment
  • Maintain and promote public safety
    • No reduction in services; continue to provide optimum training to police, fire and DPW departments
    • Ensure technology and equipment are current for best provision of services
  • Increase emphasis on smart planning and redevelopment
    • Continue to work with Township planner to address areas in need of redevelopment
    • Work with developers to implement affordable housing opportunities in their projects.
    • Redevelopment projects underway in Union Center to provide built-in foot traffic to revitalize our downtown.
  • Expand communication efforts and improve the township’s connection to the community
    • Continue enrollment in CodeRed communication platform
    • Encourage community meetings with volunteer groups and civic associations
  • Utilize talent, knowledge and ingenuity of the township’s personnel
    • Enhance programs and services to our residents in new and innovative ways
  • Enhance customer service and accessibility
    • Online and electronic payments of taxes, fees and registrations
    • Properly train all employees on positive interactions with residents and community

Semler said the municipal portion of the tax bill accounts for 37 percent of the total bill (including the 1% library tax) while the other 63 percent is controlled by the county and the Board of Education.  The municipal tax bill reflects budget dollars for police and fire protection, parks and recreation, senior citizen services, DPW services, and garbage collection.

The 2020 budget allocation breakdown includes 21 percent apportioned to the Police Department; 14 percent for the Fire Department; 5 percent for the Department of Public Works; 14% for insurance; 11% for pensions; and 16% government services.