2012 budget introduced
Mayor Bernie Platt delivered his final budget document to town council at last week’s meeting, looking back and sharing his thoughts on a decade of municipal budgeting.
“Throughout the 46 years I’ve lived, worked and raised my family in our township, crafting the budget has always been one of the toughest, yet most rewarding, things to do as the chief executive,” Platt said. “I’ve had the distinct pleasure and honor of being an elected official in our township and crafting our spending plans for the past nine years.”
The $64.5 million budget, which will be reviewed by council and open for a public hearing at the Sept. 26 meeting, includes a preliminary local tax levy, or the amount to be raised by taxpayers, of $45.1 million, about a $400,000 increase from last year’s levy, township spokesman Dan Keashen said.
Even with the increase, Keashen said, the tax levy remains well under the state-mandated 2 percent municipal cap, which went into effect last year. The 2 percent cap limits how much a municipality can raise taxes.
In Cherry Hill, about 14 percent of the property taxes you pay go to the township itself, to fund things like the police department, trash collection, the public works department, 911 calls and so on.
About 54 percent of your tax bill goes to the school district, 23 percent to Camden County, 8 percent to the fire district, and about 1 percent to the library and open space fund.
Currently, the average assessed home in Cherry Hill at $140,000 pays approximately $8,800 in total property taxes.
Platt said he was proud to introduce the budget to council, which indicates savings from recent projects in the township, such as the new trash contract and $36,000 in revenue from the solar panel project at the Department of Public Works building, where the roof has been transformed into a 100 kW solar panel system.
Another cost savings has been realized in the police department’s switch to 12-hour workdays in 2010, Keashen added.
And since 2006, the township has reduced the number of employees from 351 to 291 in 2011, yielding additional savings.
The township, however, has experienced an increase in pension contributions, which have gone up $700,000 since last year to $5.9 million, Keashen said. The increased cost of gas has also impacted the budget.
Overall, the township has been able to keep its expenses in check, but has experienced losses in revenue, Keashen said.
“This (budget) is a good roadmap for a sustainable and solvent future,” Keashen said.