Business Administrator: ‘We Will Meet The Two Percent Tax Levy Cap’
Mayor’s advisory panel suggests it is possible to reduce actual raise in 2012 tax rate
Mahwah will likely meet the state mandated two percent tax levy cap, Mahwah Business Administrator Brian Campion said at a meeting of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Budget Advisory Panel Tuesday night. Campion said over the next week, he and township Chief Finance Officer Ken Sesholtz will be working to chip away about $200K in operating expenses tentatively budgeted for the new year in order to meet the cap.
At the first meeting of the group at the close of last year, Campion said about $800K needed to be cut from the budget in order to meet the state cap. He said Tuesday that several “year-end expenditure figures” were lower than anticipated, which helped close the gap.
Campion said he is confident “we will be able to deliver a budget that is within the state statute.” The delivery will be to the town council, who will then hold a series of work sessions going over line items in the budget before it is adopted, which likely won’t be until March or April.
The Blue Ribbon Panel, which is comprised of over a dozen township residents who have no political power, has been advising the township’s mayor and administration team since late last year. Coming from business backgrounds, the members of the panel have been providing suggestions on how to save money, or bring in more revenue to the town.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, members questioned whether merely meeting the state-mandated cap was good enough.
According to Campion, coming in at the two percent cap would actually mean municipal taxes would go up for residents about three percent over last year’s, because of certain exemptions that are allowed in the “two percent cap.” The consent among the panel was to “make the realized tax increase lower.”
According to Mayor Bill Laforet, the last time residents actually paid less than a two percent tax increase was a decade ago. To do that again this year, an additional $450K, approximately, would need to be cut fro the budget, Sesholtz said.
Campion cautioned the board that lowering the actual tax levy too much might compromise the town’s surplus funds, which help determine Mahwah’s bond rating, and its reserve fund for tax appeals. “These are concerns we have to remember and be aware of,” he said.
Whether municipal taxes go up two or three percent for residents, the budget must be delivered to the township council by February 3. According to Campion, this budget determines only the municipal portion of the taxes residents pay, which amounts to “about 22 cents of your tax dollar.”