Municipal taxes could be flat for third straight year in Medford Township

MedSun

Medford Township residents could be looking forward to another year with no tax increase on their municipal tax bill.

At last week’s council meeting, Mayor Chuck Watson said council is working on a 2015 municipal budget that includes a zero tax increase for a third straight year. Prior to the regular meeting, council held a budget workshop discussing the budget.

In addition to the zero tax increase, council plans to restore some jobs in various township departments.

“We’re hoping to hire two police officers this year and two neighborhood services this year,” Watson said.

The township also plans to hire a full-time zoning officer for next year. Currently, it has a part-time zoning officer only available two days per week.

Council is also budgeting for capital improvements for 2015. Watson said council hasn’t pinpointed specific projects for capital improvement money yet.

One of the goals for council in this year’s budget is to continue to bring services back to the township at a reasonable tax rate for residents.

“It’s taken us some time, but we’re starting to come out of some of the problems we’ve had in the past,” Watson said.

Council will continue to discuss the budget at future workshops and meetings. No date has been set on when the budget will be introduced.

Environmental Affairs Advisory Committee update

The Environmental Affairs Advisory Committee updated council on some of its goals for 2015 at the beginning of the meeting.

Matthew Keane, chairman of the committee, said his group is charged with improving open space needs for residents, maintaining the township’s Tree City USA designation and reviewing developments and plans to make sure all environmental requirements are satisfied.

This year, the committee is focusing on a few specific areas. The first is the new biking trails at Hartford Crossing, located near Hartford and Church roads.

Keane said a number of volunteers are continuing to work on trails in the area. An initial trailhead has already been created.

“For 2015, we want to formalize the park,” Keane said. “Get the signs up, get the bridges made and basically do a grand opening.”

Keane is also hoping the township can add more protected open space in the township.

“I found that we had approximately 2,000 acres established across the township,” he said. “However, I was looking at other areas I would find on our recreational open space report and I didn’t find them.”

Keane said the township could add up to 5,000 acres of additional open space at zero cost to the township. He is hoping council will consider helping the committee protect this additional space.

The committee would also like to get the township involved with the state’s sustainability program. Dan Farino a member of the committee, said the township should consider getting certified.

“(Some programs) alone in Medford may already entitle us to bronze certification,” Farino said. “The point to getting certified as opposed to registered is it entitles the township to grants.”

Farino said the grants could fund programs such as improving lighting on Main Street.

The committee is also hoping to educate residents on improving the township’s environmental impacts and proposed a tree bank requirement for developers to plant trees to replace trees lost during any type of development.