Township Manager and Clerk Meredith Tomczyk confirmed at the beginning of the presentation that there will be no municipal tax increase or cuts in municipal services this year. A graphic appeared three slides into the presentation that showed the difference of net valuation taxable from 2011 to 2021.
“The … ratables did go up for 2021, which is good,” Tomczyk explained. “However, we did have a reduction in our ratables. It was a little bit over $24 million and the reduction was all due to tax appeals.”
Tax appeals are usually filed to settle disagreements with the IRS on items included in one’s tax return. Commercial businesses can file an appeal only if there’s a loss of revenue. An appeal can be filled through the state or county level.
If appeals are more than $750,000, they are filed through the state and would go through a trial if there’s not a settlement.
“I’ve had multiple meetings with our tax assessor that doesn’t feel like the appeals are going to affect us any differently than in previous years,” Tomczyk said.
The yearly levy to the township for municipal services is $836.70 for the average assessed home of $237,000. Each township fund was categorized and labeled with the percentage amount of money to be granted this year.
The remainder of a township tax bill is made up of 14 percent for the county, 3 percent for open space, and 39 percent for the local school tax, according to Tomczyk.
“The library is 1 percent of your tax, the regional school district is 25 percent of your tax bill and the fire district is 6 percent,” she noted.
Tomczyk compared the 2019 budget to 2020’s and emphasized that there is still a zero tax increase for residents, even though the township lost $2 million in revenue last year at the peak of COVID.
The township and the state had revenue in 2019 from $2.3 million of municipal occupancy tax from Mt. Laurel hotels, but in 2020, the occupancy tax loss was greater because of people not traveling during COVID.
“This is just a glimpse of how we lost over $2 million, but we’re still able to provide the residents with a zero tax base,” Tomczyk noted.
Council plans to increase usage of its surplus to 36.8 percent, compared with last year’s 35.2 percent of utilization.
Resident Linda Bobo commented on the council enacting an environmental commission that she felt was a form of bureaucracy, and also addressed the creation of three council positions, a confidential assistant, a deputy township manager, and a communications director.
Councilwoman Karen Cohen emphasized that without the commission, the residents of Mt. Laurel wouldn’t have open space in certain areas, and for the first time, the township is looking at environmental issues.
After no further questions from the public, Mayor Stephen Steglik set forth the motion to adopt 21-R-96, the 2021 budget.
The next Mt. Laurel council meeting will be a virtual session on May 24 at 7 p.m. For more information or to register for the next meeting, go to https://www.mountlaurel.com/government/meetings/council_meetings_2017.php