Timothy Daniels urges Moorestown resident to carefully examine this year’s budget.
On July 23, Moorestown council passed a budget of more than $25 million, an increase of nearly $6 million (5 percent) over 2017 (by contrast, inflation stands at 2.9 percent). Stacey Jordan and Manny Delgado claim they have lowered taxes, but don’t be fooled. While they refer to a small decrease in the municipal rate, in reality Moorestown residents will pay more overall taxes in 2018 than in 2017, which was more than 2016. Spending, fees and debt are all increasing. To balance the budget and give the appearance of a “tax cut,” council is dipping into surplus (our tax dollars paid over the years) to the tune of over $2.6 million, when in actuality they are deficit spending.
If council returned that amount to taxpayers, each resident would receive about $100. Instead, this budget saves the average Moorestown homeowner only about $20 in municipal taxes. For most of us, that meager amount will be wiped out by increased fees for services, recreational programs and permits, and increased rates for township professionals (re-appointed in January with no competitive bidding process). Tax increases for residents in Fire District 2 will be particularly steep, to make up for the mall tax appeal settlement of $2.65 million.
This short-sighted budget kicks the can down the road. Municipal debt increases by $13 million, and $4 million — 16 percent of the budget — will be spent servicing that debt. Most concerning, current leadership has provided no long-term plan for how to pay for the significant housing, infrastructure and school improvements necessary to support our affordable housing obligations.
Moorestown residents pay a substantial amount in taxes. We deserve transparency and fiscal responsibility, not irresponsible spending and election-year shell games, when it comes to how our tax dollars are spent.