Cherry Hill Council Democrats voted for $41.3 million in property taxes even though they were sitting on a budget surplus from last year equal $14.7 million that was 24 percent of the budget and three times more than three years ago.
How much is too much? Cherry Hill’s surplus of $207 per person was more than twice as large as other similar towns: Hamilton ($64), Middleton ($96), and Gloucester ($88). The national association of government finance officers says a five percent surplus is usually adequate while surpluses greater than 10 percent “should be examined carefully.” NJ law limits school districts to a two percent budget surplus.
If the town council had not been asleep at the switch and limited the surplus to five percent, it could have cut municipal property taxes by 28 percent, or cut the municipal debt to 10 percent.
Cherry Hill is now ranked number 308 on NJ Magazine’s “list of best places to live” in New Jersey because of relatively larger property taxes increases and reduced property values. Seven years ago another magazine ranked it 47th in the nation.
If taxpayers need a good reason to vote on Nov. 5 they should ask council candidates if they favor ending bloated budget surpluses and over-taxation.