Shamong Township Committee approves 2019 budget, discusses cannabis ordinance

Shamong residents living in the averaged assessed home of $308,000 will pay an extra $160 in annual municipal taxes, or a total of $8,531 for the year.

The Shamong Township Committee unanimously approved a final adoption of the 2019 municipal annual budget during its latest meeting on Wednesday, June 5.

Shamong residents living in the averaged assessed home of $308,000 will pay an extra $160 in annual taxes, or a total of $8,531 for the year.

Municipal taxes are not going up, but, the overall property tax bill – which includes the municipality, school districts, county, etc. – for the owner of the average assessed home will increase by about $160. 

The final tax rate will not be calculated by the Burlington County Board of Taxation until later this summer, due to the state needing to finalize its budget before calculation can take place.

This year’s revenues and appropriations reach a total $3,423,918, a change compared to last year’s total of roughly $3,258,367. A large portion of the increase in the 2019 budget is new payments for a plow truck totaling $44,000, debt services of $39,000, a purchase of a backhoe at $58,000 (after grant funding of 25 percent) and $40,000 worth of repairs to the public works building.   

In other news:

  • The township committee passed a resolution expressing intent to adopt an ordinance governing the production, distribution and sale of cannabis. The resolution did not put in effect any changes to the town, but served as a way for the committee to share to the public in advance its intentions for future cannabis production.
    Mayor Michael DiCroce, who has gotten media attention over recent months of his plans to make Shamong the “pot capital of New Jersey,” expressed to residents attending the meeting that since the state has given up on the effort to legalize recreational marijuana through the Legislature, they are instead leaving the issue up for voters to decide in 2020. DiCroce, with the support of the committee, stated that the resolution simply expressed their desire to prepare in advance for next year’s state-wide vote, and by doing so, invite a dialogue and possible avenues with those in the cannabis industry.
    “My goal, and the vision is, if we could be the only town in New Jersey that was property tax-free,” said DiCroce in the meeting.
  • Several members of the public expressed opposition to the committee’s decision during last month’s meeting to approve a roundabout at the intersection of Willow Grove Road and Stokes Road.
    According to the Burlington County Division of Roads and Bridges, the intersection is among the top-10 most dangerous in the county. As a result, the county has offered the town a federal grant that will completely pay for the project. Consequently, a few residents of the town will most likely have their property acquired by the county under eminent domain.
    Some of the residents in attendance stated the town and its residents should reach out to the county board to reconsider. However, Township Solicitor Douglas Heinold doubted that the county will change its decision, stating that they could face similar lawsuits as Shamong if a serious crash would occur without the roundabout.