Moorestown Council approves 2015 municipal budget with 2 percent tax rate increase

The Moorestown Township Council passed the 2015 municipal budget on second reading in a three-to-one vote on Monday, May 18. With the 2015 budget, residents will see a 2 percent tax rate increase.

The total multipurpose tax is $0.412 cents, which is a total increase of eight-tenths of a cent. That represents a $36 annual increase for the average assessed home of $446,500.

The 2 percent increase is made up of a 1 percent increase for the library budget, which is a state requirement, and a 1 percent increase of the municipal budget.

The library budget is determined by the township’s evaluation. Because the town has its own library, and the evaluation of the town has gone up, it is required by law to have the 1 percent increase.

“If you have your own municipal library, that is the minimum amount to be required per the statute, and every year they tell us how much we have to pay,” Moorestown chief financial officer Tom Merchel said.

The current fund for the budget is $23.8 million, with the water and sewer utilities fund budget at $9.2 million. According to Merchel at the budget introduction meeting, the municipal increase is due to a $203,000 increase in budget appropriations and a $233,000 decrease in revenues.

This decrease was due to the township using less surplus and collecting fewer delinquent taxes this year.

The township is using $2.03 million in surplus this year, which is $85,000 less than last year, leaving $5 million remaining in surplus. According to Merchel, last year, the township made up for delinquent taxes not collected the previous year. That means there was less money to collect this year.

No staff or services were cut from the budget.

Councilmembers Stacey Jordan, Manny Delgado and Phil Garwood approved the budget. Mayor Victoria Napolitano voted “no.” Councilman Greg Newcomer was not in attendance to vote due to recovering from surgery.

Napolitano elaborated on her decision to vote against the budget, saying she was against raising taxes for residents.

“We had a budget deficit and there are two ways you can fill that budget deficit. You can raise taxes or you can use more of the surplus. Both are valid ways to get to that point, and I just happen to disagree with raising taxes in this case,” Napolitano said.

A copy of the budget is available on the township website at www.moorestown.nj.us.

In other news:

• Last Monday before the meeting, the Moorestown Department of Parks & Recreation held a Benefactor’s Dinner to officially open its new Moorestown Recreation Commercial Kitchen. Council members expressed their happiness and approval of the new kitchen as well as honored those who helped.

An Eagle Scout award was given to Branden Hillman for painting the kitchen as well as other rooms at the Recreation Center, and proclamations were given to others who helped and donated their time and resources for the new kitchen, including Phil Hiller and Tandem Associates, Peter Honeyford, Thomas Kulp, Thomas Evans and PMH Associates, Bruce Garganio and the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, and Moorestown Youth Basketball Association.

• Council unanimously approved an ordinance on second reading for the appropriation of $250,000 and issuance of $237,500 in bonds or notes for preliminary engineering and feasibility study expenses for improvements to the water treatment plants. This study will be conducted on the three water treatment plants in the township, the North Church Street, Kings Highway and Hartford Road plants. The township is studying how water that contains levels of Trichloropropane (TCP 1,2,3) should be remediated and how to update the plants so they could all be running by 2020.

• The next council meeting will be on Monday, June 8 at 7:30 p.m. with a workshop at 7 p.m.