Evesham officials are looking to decrease municipal taxes for what would be the third straight year.
Although the township has hasn’t officially introduced its 2016 municipal budget, township manager Tom Czerniecki gave council what he described as a “broad framework” of what the budget will look like at Evesham Council’s May 3 meeting.
Overall, Czerniecki said the 2016 municipal budget would include a slight municipal property tax reduction resulting in about a $6 decrease for the average assessed home in town.
According to Czerniecki, the $35.6 million budget will include no changes to township services outside of enhancing the presence of the police department in Evesham’s schools.
Earlier this year, the Evesham Township School District floated the possibility of holding a voter referendum in November to pay for increased police presence in schools, but the township and department eventually offered to pay for it themselves to prevent the issue from being associated in any way with the district’s decision to close Evans Elementary School.
Czerniecki said the most significant cost driver in the budget was a $412,000 increase in police salaries and wages, to which he said about half could be attributed to the increase in the school resource officer program.
Czerniecki said another cost driver was an emergency appropriation of $286,000 regarding the macro-burst storm that hit Evesham on June 23 last year. According to Czerniecki, whenever a township uses emergency funds it didn’t anticipate in its budget during one year, the township must show that money in the subsequent year.
Czerniecki said the township was also paying $200,000 in utility debt for the township-owned Indian Spring Golf Course, but he noted that money was a legacy cost dating back to the 1990s. Czerniecki also said the golf course itself would have realized an 8 percent profit last year, if legacy debt were ignored.
“And we’re very excited about where it’s trending,” Czerniecki said.
When compared to other taxing entities, Czerniecki said municipal taxes only represent 15 percent of a resident’s total property tax bill.
According to Czerniecki, 40.18 percent of a resident’s total property tax bill goes toward K-8 school taxes, 23.65 goes toward regional school taxes, and the rest is divided among the county, fire district and open space funds.
Mayor Randy Brown said although issues such as the township’s potential absorption of the Evesham Municipal Utilities Authority and the closure of Evans Elementary School have “dominated” media headlines lately, he was proud of the work done by the township and its employees all throughout the year.