The new budget calls for a 2.4-cent increase in local taxes for every $100 of assessed home value. For an average home in Harrison Township worth $342,650, this equates to roughly an $82.24 annual increase in taxes.
Mayor Louis Manzo said the increase was largely due to the rising costs of recycling, the township’s contractual obligation to the police department and using Payment in Lieu of Taxes to pay for one school bus per district (two).
He added China accepts U.S. recyclable materials, but with tariffs occurring, the country raised costs, which, for Harrison Township, went from $66 per ton, to $111 per ton.
In the police department, the township is paying $257,000 in salary increases.
He added the township was also “owning up to a commitment” to the districts to help where, and if, needed by using some of the township’s PILOT funds, for the schools. Both districts, he said, are projected to lose between five and six figures worth of state aid.
“They basically both asked us if we would be interested in buying them both one bus, each,” said Manzo. “They’re required to replenish the buses after a certain amount of years, so if we were able to help them.”
The buses total $186,000.
The new budget, he added, will also fund the township’s employees’ salaries, pensions and benefits; provide police and public safety; public works; recreational maintenance; capital improvement – among others.
The township isn’t looking into extensive capital projects because of the increases, Manzo said, and will be operating with a “fairly lean capital project” this year. It includes street improvements to areas in dire need. Further improvements in town, such as connecting developments to one another or a main road through sidewalks, are on hold until funds come up.
“Next year, we will move forward with the 2013 bike path program because the county’s paying for it,” said Manzo.
The county paid for engineers and designs of the path, which he said would start near the 322 BBQ deck and go over Mill Road.
Resident Rosemarie Matranga asked the township, during the meeting, about Mantua Township’s contribution to Clearview Regional School District because of Harrison’s $93,000 purchase.
“The west campus project you see us talk about with various things coming in, it’s a joint project with Mantua [and Glassboro and Pitman],” said Manzo referencing the MOTUS Project. The agreement, he added, is on the collection of PILOT dollars and taxes.
The project is expected to be open by March 2021 and is planned to be the new home of several Rowan athletic teams, a 340-room hotel, multi-purpose arena and a retail space, among others.
He went on to add that Mantua is aware of Harrison’s contribution, and the township is able to recoup the money through the redevelopment PILOT agreement once construction starts. He added a year from now, something on the campus will have happened.
“‘If you haven’t done your half, by the time this is happening, $93,000 is coming off the top to us and we’re even,” said Manzo, referencing a point he made to Mantua.
Matranga also asked about the traffic that would come from the project. Manzo said the county and state have done studies to the area on the current traffic patterns and what the project will do to it. He added Glassboro is working with the county on making Ellis Mill Road into County Route 641 and bridging connections to Inspira.
“Going into this, we know that we have to work through this because of the traffic flowing through Route 322, which is why we have that joint redevelopment agreement,” said Manzo. “It’s not just about the money, but it is about when the money is decided and what’s going to be built out there.”
The new $11.7 million budget is available to view on the township’s website on HarrisonTwp.US.