Average Township Taxes Up $28 This Year
Council approves budget with 1.75 percent increase in the municipal tax rate after the Mahwah school board approved a 2 percent school tax increase last month
Average homeowners in Mahwah will be paying $28.20 more in municipal taxes than they did last year, after the township council approved a $34.5M operating budget Thursday night.
The 2012 municipal tax rate will go up 1.75 percent, which is within the state’s mandated two percent tax levy cap. The township’s municipal tax rate will go up from .342 in 2011 to .348 this year. The new rate means that homeowners will pay about $348 per every $100,000 of assessed value of their homes.
For the average home in Mahwah, which is worth about $470K, the 2012 tax bill will be about $1,635.60, a $28.20 increase over last year’s.
Municipal taxes make up the bulk of the township’s operating budget, which pays for service like the township police department, DPW (leaf removal, snow removal, road maintenance, recycling, park maintenance, etc.), emergency services, garbage collection, rec and senior citizen programs, and other township-provided services. The biggest expenses to the township are the salaries and wages of its employees, which makes up over 35 percent of this year’s budget.
The town council passed the budget with a 5-1 vote, with Councilman Harry Williams being the sole vote against it. Throughout the budget hearing process, Williams raised concerns about the amount of money the township is spending to fix roads in Mahwah. He has argued that the $1M allotted to repave seven roadways in Mahwah is not enough.
The compilation of this year’s budget, which typically is done by the mayor, business administrator, and township CFO, was done with input from a 14-member citizen advisory panel. Members of the “blue ribbon panel,” assembled by Mayor Bill Laforet, attended Thursday’s meeting to read a note explaining their role in the budget process.
“[Laforet] asked that the panel be formed to take a “fresh look” at the [budget] process, its existing structure and suggest alternatives and ideas for decreasing expenditures, and increasing revenue while maintaining excellence of service within reasonable financial parameters,” the letter said. The panel was briefed on the township’s budget, and encouraged to make suggestions on ways to either reduce spending, or increase revenue to the township, it said.
“We want to emphasize that we did look at privatization of certain segments of our services. This is an ongoing discussion that would be recommended only if it provided the same or a better level of service to the residents of Mahwah, with decreased costs and ensured that the safety, health and welfare of our community improved,” the panel’s letter said.
Laforet recently discussed changing the structure of the township’s ambulance services, however he maintained that the volunteer ambulance corps will stay in tact.
The panel indicated that although this year’s budget is complete, it will continue to discuss ways for the town to save and make money in the future. Laforet said the panel is advisory only, and does not actually make any decisions regarding the township budget.
According to Mahwah business administrator Brian Campion, the municipal tax rate approved Thursday only makes up about 21.4 percent of a resident’s total tax bill. The Mahwah Board of Education voted earlier this year to boost school taxes, which make up the largest percentage of the tax bill, two percent, or $103 for the average homeowner.