Council addresses cap bank, increase in property taxes during public hearing

Blackwood resident argues levies are already too high

Gloucester Township Council approved on second reading an ordinance to exceed budget appropriation limits and establish a cap bank and discussed municipal property taxes at its Feb. 22 meeting.

The annual proposal allows the township to increase its budget by up to 3.5 percent over the prior year’s appropriations — instead of the typical 2.5 percent cap — while banking the excess, according to Business Administrator Tom Cardis.

According to the ordinance, which passed following a public hearing, the proposed increase amounts to approximately $1,416,664, while the 3.5 percent increase amounts to approximately $1,983,331. The proposed 2021 budget was not included in the ordinance.

During the second public comment, Blackwood resident Paul Krug conveyed his belief that  township property taxes are too high, an opinion he shared at prior meetings.

Krug presented council with a document that shows aggregate municipal property taxes levied by the township increased over the past 20 years, compared with taxes in Cherry Hill and Washington Township.

“The trend here is one only matched by the pharmaceutical industry and higher education,” he argued. “It’s a trend that I feel is unsustainable for this body to continue to accept.”

In response to Krug’s analysis, councilman Michael Mignone said he felt the number and standard of services provided by the township was fair for the amount residents pay in taxes. Meanwhile, councilman Dan Hutchinson argued there was more to the story than what the data shows.

“Numbers are going to tell you whatever they want to tell you,” he noted. “This town has developed significantly over this period of time on your chart, and I don’t think you can just look at raw data because the 4.5 percent increase doesn’t take into account who the town was in 1998 versus who it is now in comparison to Cherry Hill and Washington Township.”

Hutchinson added that while it’s true the numbers do show a significant increase in comparison to other large area municipalities, Gloucester Township has grown significantly more than Cherry Hill since 1998, because the latter was more developed 20 years ago.
Councilwoman Carolyn Grace agreed with Hutchinson, saying that throughout her 30 plus years of living in Gloucester Township she has seen the town transform.

“To see it today … I’m wondering, are we just still growing?,” Grace asked. “You’re seeing our growth and, at some point, will we plateau? I can’t look at everything right now and say we’re not doing a great job or we’re doing a poor job.

“I personally think we’re doing a good job.”

Council’s next meeting will be held on Monday, March 8.