Mt. Laurel Township Council passes 2016 municipal budget with no municipal tax increase

Laurel

At its April 11 meeting, Mt. Laurel Township Council adopted the 2016 municipal budget with no tax increase for residents.

The $38 million budget will keep the local municipal tax levy set at 34.3 cents per every $100 of assessed property, with the total amount of the budget to be raised by taxes set at $19.7 million. For residents with the average home valued at $237,600, that means they will continue to pay about $814 per year in municipal taxes.

With average homeowners in Mt. Laurel expected to pay about $6,524 in total for local taxes this year, the $814 figure equates to about 12 percent of residents’ total bill going to the municipality.

“The $814 is what will support all the municipal services we provide,” township manager Maureen Mitchell said.

Those service include police and animal control, EMS, trash removal and disposal, snow removal, street sweeping, pothole repairs, the community center, parks, township events, debt service, street lighting, the township administration and more.

As township officials noted at the meeting, the remaining 88 percent of residents’ tax bills are split between the other taxing entities in the area. About 39 percent of local taxes go to the Mt. Laurel K-8 school district, another 25 percent goes to the Lenape Regional High School District, 15 percent goes to Burlington County, about 5 percent goes toward the Mt. Laurel Fire District, about 3 percent goes toward open space, and about 1 percent supports the local library.

Regarding the library tax levy, that number is increasing this year from 3.5 cents per every $100 value of assessed property to 3.7 cents. However, as Mayor Linda Bobo and Mitchell noted, the formula governing the library levy increase is set by the state and not the township.

Mitchell said state aid to the township also continues to be stagnant, as it has since 2011, with the number set once again at about $2.8 million.

Mitchell also noted that despite the local municipal tax levy staying flat, the total budget itself is nearly $300,000 more than the prior year due to an expected increase in revenues.

When broken down by department, 18.5 percent of the municipal budget was set for police, 12.5 percent for utilities, 12 percent for debt service, 10 percent for public works and sanitation, 10.5 percent for insurance, 9 percent for uncollected taxes, 8 percent for pensions and statutory, 5.5 percent for the library, 3 percent for EMS/OEM, 2.5 percent for community development, 2.5 percent for finance and administration, 2 percent for tax appeals, 1.5 percent for legal and engineering, 1 percent for the municipal court, 1 percent for tax collection and assessment and .5 percent for grants.

Mitchell said those allocations were similar to last year.

“The budgets are so similar with only a $300,000 difference between the two. There’s not a major breaking between the various departments,” Mitchell said.

Upon approving the budget, members of council thanked Mitchell and other township officials for their work in putting together the budget in a way that resulted in no municipal tax increase and no reduction in services.

There were no comments from any members of public regarding the budget.