Home Medford News Medford adopts $25-million budget for 2024

Medford adopts $25-million budget for 2024

VFW post also honored police Criminal Investigations Bureau

Courtesy of Medford Township
VFW Post 7677 presented a member of the Medford police department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau with the 2024 Community Service Award on June. 5

Medford council has adopted its $25.67 million budget for 2024.

Mayor Charles “Chuck” Watson took time to explain the financial plan before its final adoption at a June 5 public hearing. He shared where the township stands compared with other municipalities in Burlington County.

“We can take pride in the fact that fiscal year 2023, out of 40 municipalities, Medford was 12t from the bottom in local budget per resident and 16th from the bottom in local purpose property taxes per resident,” Watson said.

“What makes this truly impressive is of the eight largest municipalities of Burlington County, we are only one of two towns to fund fire and rescue services in our municipal budget rather than (have) a separate, stand-alone fire district and a subsequent separate tax.”

The proposed budget’s total represents a 7% increase over 2023.

“Unfortunately, Medford is not immune from the inflationary pressures faced by all local governments and households in 2024, and the lingering impacts of the COVID emergency,” Watson explained.

Coming into 2024, the township’s contract for household waste removal increased from $862,000 to $1,537,000, nearly 82%. It is one of the township’s largest operating expenses, the mayor noted. Another factor weighing on the budget is the end of federal American Rescue Plan grants that enabled the township to maintain services over the past few years.

The new budget addresses increases in salary costs and a projected salary budget gap of $952,324. Other significant increases include landfill costs, health-care expenses and utilities totaling more than 250,000.

“It is critical for Medford to continue to plan for the future,” the mayor emphasized. “We need to plan our finances in a way to keep our bond rating strong – presently AA2 from Moody’s – while also making important investments in our infrastructure rather than delaying the inevitable. That would only cost more in the future to correct.”

In order to maintain a healthy debt-service level, it was important to focus the township’s 2024 capital improvement program on priority projects, according to Watson. This year’s capital budget includes $1.8 million in funding to continue road improvements.

“It’s our seventh year in row that we have spent over $2 million,” Watson said. “It goes back to letting things go for too long. We are trying not to do that. (That’s) why we are constantly playing catch up.”

The capital budget also includes critical upgrades to township buildings and facilities:

  • Replacement of the antiquated HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system in court/police headquarters
  • Security cameras at township parks and the public works facility
  • Upgrade to the playground at Freedom Park
  • An upgraded fire-alarm system
  • Server upgrades for the police department and software radar upgrades for its vehicles.

The township is also setting aside dedicated funds to enable the purchase of a new ladder truck in the coming year. The truck will be “better suited to reach buildings set back further on residential lots,” Watson said.

“In addition, it’s time to upgrade personal protective equipment for firefighters and EMTs and other safety investments, such as thermal imaging cameras,” he pointed out.

The 2024 budget also includes funds to meet the township’s matching share of nearly $200,000 in grants to improve pedestrian safety.

The 2023 local purpose tax was 4.16 cents, with an overall tax levy of $13.68 million to support the budget. This year, the local purpose tax rate is 4.7 cents, resulting in a local purpose tax levy of $15.35 million. For an average home assessed annually at $330,800, a homeowner’s local tax portion will go from $1,370.09 to $1,611.18, or a $241 increase.

“… Generally, only 12 to 13 cents of the property tax bill supports the township, which also includes (Burlington) county, Lenape (Regional High School District) and (the) Medford school district,” Watson said.

“It’s important to note Medford has been extremely prudent and careful in respect to its budget and taxes, he continued. “We have consistently paid our budgets and taxes below the rates and maintain a very low budget and tax levy compared to our peers.”

For argument’s sake, Watson said for the average assessed home that has not changed in 10 years, the increase in county taxes totals $261, the increase for the Medford school district totals $826, the increase for the Lenape district is $443 and the increase in municipal purpose taxes is $13.23.

In other news:

Every year, members of the VFW Post 7677 select a member of law enforcement to honor for a community service award, according to its post commander Mark Preston. The award is voted on by post members and recognizes exceptional service to Medford and surrounding communities in the past year.

This year’s award went to Det. Mark Hunsinger, Sgt. Amanda Mack, Det. Patrick Robey and Lt. Jeffrey Samalonis of the township police department’s Criminal Investigations Bureau. Preston and Stephen Emery, post vice commander, presented the award at the public hearing.

“Usually, we give $100 to the person awarded,” Preston said, “but (Police Chief Arthur E. Waterman) asked us to donate it.”

The money went to the Veterans Memorial Home in Vineland.

Exit mobile version