Budget is below cap in Mt. Laurel

The 2012 municipal budget was adopted in Mt. Laurel at the Monday, April 16 council meeting.

According to township manager Maureen Mitchell, “The local purpose tax rate would rise 1.9 cents for every $100 of assessed property value, from less than 54 cents to about 55 cents.”

The state mandates municipal budgets to stay under the two-percent cap.

A home assessed at the township average of $142,100 can expect to pay an extra $27.68 annually for municipal services, she said, for a total property tax payment of around $6,179.

“We only keep $789 of it,” she said, as the rest is allocated to the county, local schools and Lenape Regional School District.

The total budget this year is $35,460.723.17, Mitchell said.

“The adopted budget is nearly $1 million less than the 2011 budget and is below the municipal spending cap,” she said.

State aid is down to 8 percent in 2012, she said.

“The state has changed the way in which they fund local governments and has taken away CMPTRA (Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Relief Act) based on any increase in Energy Receipts Taxes,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said layoffs are not currently being considered, but there has been some municipal staff reorganization.

Salaries and wages comprise $11,069,406 of the operating budget, which is $267,426 less than last year, she said.

The township does not plan to reduce municipal services or programs either, she said.

“Although nothing new has been included in the preliminary financial plan, a tax increase is necessary to cover a reduction in available revenues and the losses due to the high number of tax appeals,” she said.

Revaluations potentially beginning soon

If all goes according to plan, a firm hired by the township will be inspecting homes for a mandatory revaluation process by May 15, said Mitchell.

“A firm (Professional Property Appraisers) was hired to perform this revaluation and they will visit every property within the township to determine what the market value is currently,” she said. “This does not raise any additional review — it just redistributes the cost based on the current-market value of a property.”

Meanwhile, an ordinance was adopted on second reading at the meeting to authorize a special emergency appropriation for the revaluation to spread the cost over five years rather than budgeting the entire cost into one year, Mitchell said.

“Historically one third of the properties will increase, one third will decrease and one third will stay the same,” she said.

The timeline of the contract needs to be approved by the state, she said, or they will send their own timeline to the township.

“Once the state approves the contract with the reval firm, field work will commence, she said.

The revaluation does not affect the budget this year, she said.

Beauty Fair 2012

Councilman Christopher Smith announced the township is hosting a beauty fair on Monday, April 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The $2 admission fee will benefit the Mount Laurel Municipal Alliance, he said.

About 19 salons confirmed attendance as of April 16.

“It’s a great opportunity to see what’s hip and new” before prom season, he said.

The fair will take place at the community center at 100 Mount Laurel Road.

Register online with the recreation department by emailing a full name and phone number for each participant to recreation@mountlaurel.com.