Final budget adopted in Shamong

Homeowners will not encounter a tax increase this year in Shamong, according to township officials. The 2012 Shamong Township budget was adopted at the Tuesday, May 1 township committee meeting.

The total municipal budget this year is $2,737,782.97.

The ability of the township to keep the local-purpose tax rate flat this year is “quite an accomplishment,” Mayor Jon Shevelew said.

The current average-assessed value of a residential property in the township is $308,558 according to township administrator and clerk Susan Onorato.

“The average assessed home in 2011 paid $75 in local-purpose tax,” she said. “At this time, I do not have the 2012 tax rate, but I would expect it to be in line with last years.”

There was a small tax increase in 2011, she said, but in 2009 and 2010,there were no increases.

Schools make up over 80 percent of the overall tax bill, she said.

The local was kept steady by township reductions. Staff were reduced, she said. Many township workers, including building and code workers, are employed on a part-time basis.

“We’re pretty efficient with our dollars here,” she said.

The tax assessor is shared with Tabernacle and Southampton townships, she said, and there are several other shared services agreements in place.

The township is currently looking into potentially sharing court services with Medford Lakes, but is still analyzing whether that would be a positive move, she said.

“Wherever we can save money, we do,” she said.

Also, as a result of years of negotiations with Burlington County, Onorato said, the township underwent a reassessment this year.

The last time Shamong experienced a reassessment was in 1989, she said.

“It was over-needed,” she explained. “We recognized that.”

Tax assessor Jay Renwick spearheaded the reassessment process with in-house staff beginning in January. Residents were recently sent letters with estimated tax bills based on projections, she said.

The new assessed values are based on the 2011 budget year.

“The tax rate also gets adjusted,” she said.

At the meeting, Onorato said that 51 tax appeals were filed in the township, eight of which were from one owner, resulting in a 2 percent appeal total from the 2,100 homes reassessed.

Other improvements to the township are being conducted, she explained.

Solar panels were installed on the municipal building and maintenance building through a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement.) The township did not spend money for the panels, she said.

Another company bought them and Shamong will be buying the power from them at a reduced rate for a projection of 25 to 30 percent in savings each year.

The township is currently waiting to “flip that magic switch,” to connect with Atlantic City Electric, she said.

Shamong will be applying for the Burlington County municipal park development program grant of $250,000 plus 10 percent extenuating circumstances for a total of $275,000 to help finish work on the recreation center and for maintenance to Dingletown Field.

The tennis and basketball courts need to be repaved, Shevelew said during the meeting.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Laura King informed the committee there would be a monument dedication for Dr. James Still on Wednesday, May 9 at 6 p.m.

Attendees would have to go through Rutland Court to enter the cemetery. Members of the Still family will be in attendance.