WESTFIELD, NJ – The owner of the average home in town paid $2,725.32 in municipal taxes in 2018, and the town government has proposed not hiking those taxes this year, in advance of property owners getting their first tax bills following a major adjustment of assessed home values.

The spending plan benefits from increased revenues derived from fees and permits, interest on investments and health department shared service contracts with area municipalities, Town Administrator Jim Gildea told the Town Council this week.

What about that surplus?

Sign Up for E-News

The budget keeps the town’s surplus at $9.5 million, where last year the town left $10 million in the surplus, Gildea said.

“We will continue to look at the cash management plan,” he said. “Last year we looked at it and it produced some big increases on investments.”

SCHOOLS: Westfield's Westfield’s 2019-20 School Budget Funds New Hires, Hikes Levy 2.8%

COUNTY: Union County Freeholders Mulling $491.6M Plan to Hike Taxes 2%

What do taxpayers get for it?

The spending plan includes monies for an upgraded municipal website. The new technology will also allow for the application of construction permits, as well as cat and dog licenses that website, Gildea said.

A new town smartphone app, he said, will allow the public to report potholes and other issues by uploading photos. Westfield is also converting its town code into a more searchable digital version, known as eCode, Gildea said. Union, Clark and Springfield are among the nearby municipalities, which use eCode.

The budget includes funding for a sewer-cleaning program in the downtown, the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in municipal parking lots and continued investment in public works and police equipment, Gildea told the Town Council.

What’s up?

Salaries and wages in the budget are slated to increase 3.03 percent over last year, according to Gildea

Salaries in the engineering department are rising by 7.9 percent as the town realizes the cost of a new engineering inspector. Building department wages are rising 7.72 percent as the department realizes salary adjustments for part-time inspectors and increased staff, Gildea said.

Administration costs are slated to rise 4.57 percent as the town realizes the full-year cost of a public information officer, new tax collector and additional staff in the tax collector’s office, Gildea’s statement to the council said.

Also up is the cost of curbside recycling collection, which Gildea noted, the municipality saw the cost of nearly double last December, when it awarded a recently rebid contract for the service.

What about that revaluation?

The municipality’s average assessed value rose from $181,931 in 2018 to $795,159 in 2019, the town announced.

The estimated tax rate of 2.104 per $100 of assessed valuation would bring the average residential tax bill to $16,730.14, the town said.

While as a whole, the town’s projections show a decrease of $183.94 in taxes on the average home as the new assessments take effect, that’s not the case for everyone.

With that estimated rate, the taxes for 3,950 residential properties are anticipated to increase and 5,246 are anticipated to decrease, the officials said.

What's next?

The Town Council is anticipated to formally introduce the budget at its April 9 meeting, at which time the full budget document will be made available and a public hearing set.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh