Maplewood's Township Committee introduced a 2012 budget on Tuesday night that adhered to promises made at the beginning of the budget process in January.
At that time, Township Committee members spoke of their — despite the fact that the town would be allowed by law to exceed that cap due to banked cap and exceptions granted.
"We kept that promise," said Township Committeeman Jerry Ryan as he explained that the final budget of $38,542,183.55 translates into a tax rate of $.82 for a 1.99% increase in local municipal taxes.
The 2012 budget represents a $362,274.71 increase over last year's budget of $38,179,908.84. The amount to be raised by taxes in 2012 is $26,929,287.95, compared to $26,401,194.87 in 2011 (at a tax rate of $.804).
For the average house, assessed at $421,665, this represents a tax increase of $67.46, explained Ryan. He noted that this broke down to $5.62 a month, or $1.297 a week.
Ryan said that appropriations were basically flat for 2012, while salaries were up at the negotiated rate per the . He said that bond and principal interest payments were higher this year; however, new state laws and the recently negotiated contracts had keep health care and pension costs somewhat lower than in previous years. For these reasons — and the one-time application of money from the sale of the old police station — the town had been able to balance the budget without painful cuts.
"We are in fairly good shape," said Ryan. He noted that "from a suprlus position — overall and capital — we are better than last year."
In addition, Ryan said that the town's capital program for 2012 is $250,000 smaller than it was in 2011 and that debt service for 2012 is $844,000 more than it was in 2011.
"We're spending less, paying back more ... basically we are improving our debt position."
Ryan also noted that the $740,000 to be applied from the sale of the old police station site (the town will net more than $1,000,000 overall from the sale) would basically be used to offset bond payments for the new police station — quite fittingly.
Mayor Vic DeLuca reiterated that the Township Committee had kept to its promise and did not avail itself of exceptions and banked cap to balance the budget — which would have allowed it to raise another $1,616,974 in taxes.
However, he noted that the tax burden on locals was still too much. DeLuca said that even though Maplewood would not raise more than the $26.929 million in taxes, overall Maplewoodians would be paying $102,503,873 after school, county, library and open spaces taxes were figured in — meaning that Maplewood residents were paying $4,270 in property taxes per capita.
"Something's wrong in the state of New Jersey that taxes are that high per person. Four thousand per capita is just a lot of money." DeLuca said that more money should be coming from state and federal sources for the schools and municipal government "for what we are paying."