Mahwah’s municipal tax rate likely won’t be finalized until mid-March when the township council is required to introduce the 2013 budget. However, the initial township budget the mayor and administration presented to the council Thursday night calls for a 4.9% tax increase, which would translate into an about $59 per year increase for the average homeowner in the township.
Mahwah Business Administrator Brian Campion and Chief Finance Officer Ken Sesholtz outlined the high points of the budget, which will set the municipal tax rate once its approved, at a town council meeting Thursday night.
According to Campion, several uncontrollable factors have led to the increased tax rate.
A $46 million decrease in the township’s overall assessed value is “driving the tax increase,” Campion told the council. The reassessed values are the result of tax appeals, he said.
The cost of providing healthcare and medical coverage to township employees has also “gone up dramatically this year,” Campion said.
Many of the added expenses, like a big chunk of the healthcare costs, are exempt from the state-mandated 2% tax levy cap, officials explained. So, the proposed budget meets the 2% cap.
The township council questioned some of the budgeting decisions in the document Thursday night, such as the decision to leave an estimated $6.2M in the township’s surplus fund. Councilman John Roth suggested using more of the surplus fund in order to lower the tax increase, though Sesholtz said he would recommend against depleting the surplus fund.
The council will spend the next month or so questioning department heads in the township as to their anticipated spending this year. It could adjust the budget before introducing it by March 15.
The municipal tax rate is only a portion - an estimated 22 percent - of a Mahwah resident's tax bill. The rest is made up of school, county, library and other taxes.
The budget also includes a proposal to privatize the township’s recycling department. See details of the privatization proposal here.