The $15.4 million budget, which was approved by the committee – with the exception of Eileen Lukens, who was absent – was sent to the county for final approval. Copies of the budget are available at the municipal building, Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In it, the township seeks a 1.5-cent increase in taxes for every $100 of assessed home value. For an average home in Mantua assessed at $205,881, taxpayers could see roughly a $30.88 annual increase.
The township also adopted an ordinance on first reading to use a .5 percent bank cap on next year’s budget.
“We’re going to be doing road improvements (East Morris and Trenton avenues intersection; Bethel Mill Road; West and East Essex avenues;), seal coating of the municipal parking lot, purchasing three patrol vehicles, park improvements with playground enhancements (irrigation at Chestnut Branch and McCarson for playground equipment), and technology and IT replacements with two new servers – one each for the police and municipal buildings – since they’re past their life expectancies,” said Township Administrator Jennica Bileci. The capital program this year is estimated to be around $790,000.
Bileci added the patrol cars are being replaced this year due to the vehicles going out of commission due to a number of issues (fire, blown motors, etc.).
She added the main reason for the tax increase is due to the rising recycling costs from China the township has to pay and statutory costs such as salaries and health care.
The tax rate increase, however, was kept below the 2 percent cap largely due to the township utilizing surplus from the previous year’s funds, increase in ratables and the township operating with lean staffing to minimize costs.
“We’re keeping everything at minimum levels and doing more with less,” said Bileci. “We’re figuring out creative ways to provide services to the residents without additional costs to taxpayers.”
The township is also anticipating more revenue to come in through its shared services agreements with several surrounding municipalities, including Wenonah, where the police have patrolled since last summer.
She added the township has rejected bids for a pickleball court due to the bids exceeding the budget the township had planned for it, and no bids were submitted for liquor licenses.
A public hearing is scheduled for July 8 at 6 p.m. at the Municipal Building. There, Bileci said she will present the full budget. The June 17 meeting was previously cancelled.
In other news:
- The township is looking to convert the pickleball court back to a tennis court because the bids were rejected.
- The police department made an arrest for a burglary that occurred at Dunkin’ a few weeks ago and “knocked down a ring.”
- The police have been in conversation with the county’s engineer to mitigate car crashes on Center Street near Garden Center and Pond Supplies. Most of the crashes, Lt. Brian Grady said, occurred during rainy weather.