Council votes to introduce tentative 2017 municipal budget

The public hearing on the budget will be held on Monday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

Moorestown Council introduced the 2017 proposed municipal budget at last week’s meeting. The total budget is $24.3 million, a 1.9 percent increase, or approximately $453,000, from the 2016 municipal budget. The township is anticipating $432,247 in additional revenue, and the net difference of $20,753 will be raised through taxation.

“There’s really no change in the budget,” township manager Tom Merchel said. “Council kept the municipal rate the same as last year.”

Council has held several budget workshops over the past few months.

The tax levy will increase 0.126 percent, but because of an overall increase in ratables, the tax rate will drop slightly from 41 cents to 40.9 cents, a quarter of a percent decrease.

The average Moorestown homeowner with a home valued at $448,000 will pay $1,832 in local purposes taxes, with $1,662 going to the municipal budget and $170 going to the library, if the budget is approved. This is approximately $20 more than last year. The water and sewer utility budget will be $11 million.

“We’re way below our appropriations cap,” Merchel said, as council passed an ordinance to exceed the municipal budget appropriations limit and establish a cap bank. “It’s something we hope that we never need to use.”

The public hearing on the budget will be held at the council meeting on Monday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. This will give the public the opportunity to ask questions or express concerns on the proposed budget before it is adopted.

In other news:

• Council passed a pair of ordinances designed to improve recreation facilities in town. The first is a bond ordinance appropriating $225,000 and authorizing the issuance of $213,750 in bonds or notes to be used for improvements to recreation center facilities, including the replacement of an HVAC unit at the New Albany Parks and Recreation center as well as the replacement of a handicap ramp.

The second appropriates an additional $50,000 and authorizes the issuance of $47,500 in bonds or notes to reconstruct the shelter of the hockey rink at Wesley Bishop Park.

• Council discussed an authorization amendment to revise certain water and sewer rates. The amendment would increase the fines for violations and penalties and slightly increase usage bills.

“The last time we had an increase was 2010,” Merchel said. “We’re doing a lot of infrastructure improvements with all three water treatment plants and replacing a lot of the mains, so we have to pay for that.”

Council also added a new usage tier for low water users.

“Even with these increases, we still have some of the lowest water and sewer rates,” Merchel said.

• Council passed a consent agenda resolution to appoint Thomas/Boyd Communications as the township’s public relations and communications consultant. A primary motive was a perceived lack of transparency in regard to water issues in Moorestown, according to council representatives.

The six-month contract will not exceed $27,000, and fees will range from $105 to $150 per hour.

• The next council meeting will be held on Monday, June 26 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.