Deputy Mayor adresses potential tax hike

By AUBRIE GEORGE

By now, you’ve probably heard that Medford Township is asking residents if it can increase taxes about 25 percent.

Deputy Mayor Mark Sander has released a letter to Medford taxpayers on behalf of Council to address the proposed increase.

According to Sander, the 2011 proposed municipal budget includes plenty of cuts, such as an approximately $1 million cut in employee salaries and the elimination of bulk trash collection and Saturday drop off at the public works yard. However, due to raising costs, the township is still looking at a $2.3 million budget gap.

The only way to close that gap is to raise taxes or cut services.

If approved at the polls, a 16.4 cent tax increase would mean an extra $325 in municipal taxes under the 2011 municipal budget for the average Medford homeowner. The tax revenue would give the township an additional $2.3 million in revenue, therefore closing the budget gap.

If not approved, the township is going to have to look elsewhere to bring the budget under the 2 percent tax levy cap that is mandated by state law.

“If the referendum is not passed by the voters, the tax increase would be capped at 2.93 cents, and an over $2.3 million deficit will have to be made up by drastically reduced municipal services or staff,” Sander said. “For example, that would equate to 28 of our 43 police officers.”

Sander said the proposed Medford Crossings project, if approved, would bring in an additional $3 million in revenue for this year. That revenue would close the budget gap and result in a tax rate decrease for Medford residents, he said.

However, the controversial project, which would bring commercial and residential development to Route 70 and Eayrestown Road, has been vehemently opposed by dozens of residents. The project is still in the review and negotiation phase, according to Sander.

The township is now gearing up for a series of community meetings this week intended to give residents information about the proposed tax hike and referendum question that must be passed to approve it.

If approved at the polls, the tax increase would mean an extra $325 in municipal taxes under the 2011 municipal budget. If not approved, the township is going to have to look elsewhere to bring the budget under the 2 percent tax levy cap that is mandated by state law.

The referendum question will appear on the April 27 school election ballot.