TWP June Workshop Crib Notes: No 24-hour police, no major road repairs this year, and what a 2019 Municipal Tax might look like

pothole
My favorite Heller Hill Pothole… as of June 2, 2018 (hopefully gone by this post)

I attended the Blairstown Township Committee monthly Town hall “Workshop” meeting on Wednesday, June 27, and learned a couple of things I thought I would pass along in case you hadn’t heard:

  • No 24-hour Blairstown Policing on the Horizon: The Township has scrubbed its previously announced November public referendum on whether to expand the Blairstown Police to a 24-hour operation. The Committee members stated that the move would be cost prohibitive given the current fiscal situation where there just isn’t even revenue to cover both the cost of additional policing and the Township’s pressing need to fix its roads…
  • No Major Road Repairs in 2018: New Jersey contributes one paved road to Blairstown a year. This year’s contribution will go to fixing Mohican Road. That’s it. All other paving repairs would need to come from the Blairstown budget. However, since there is no money in the 2018 budget for road paving, the only action the Township can take this year is to fill the worst of the potholes with patches. (If you have a doozy of a pothole you want fixed, contact the town and they will have the DPW fix it.) Any 2019 paving projects will need to be planned for in the 2019 budget
  • New Revenue Sources are Needed for the 2019 Budget: For months now, Township Committee members have been talking about the insufficient funds in the current budget to take care of our basic infrastructure, including roads. The discussion Wednesday night covered some specific ideas to include, establishing a new Municipal Tax and getting a loan to cover the cost of the road repairs. The cost of the tax to the tax payers’ would be offset by cutting the “Municipal Open Space” tax in half – from $.02 per $100 of assessed home value down to $.01.
  • How Much New Revenue is Needed? According to Township documents, every additional penny of taxes per $100 of assessed home value only provides the Township with an additional $71,000 in annual revenue. Mayor Lance felt that the Township needed to be aggressive with a possible temporary increase of $.05 per $100 of assessed value in order to care for just the road problem. Such an increase would add about $355,000 to the Township’s coffers. This would certainly be helpful given that at the May meeting the Township identified more than $1.5 million in needed road repairs. Deputy Mayor Van Valkenburg suggested that any additional taxes could be used to pay down the loan that would be needed to fix the roads.
  • How Much Might Your Taxes Increase by? The answer depends on your property’s assessment. According to 2016 data from the US Census Bureau there are 2,325 total housing units in Blairstown at a median value of $304,000. After analyzing figures from the Township’s May presentation, it appears that every penny of tax assessed on a $304,000 property is worth around $30. So at the end of the day, if the Township assessed a new five cent tax to fix the roads, while dropping our open space tax by one cent, the median household would incur an extra $120.00 annually, about $10 a month or $0.33 a day. If your house is worth more, the rate would be higher. If your house is worth less, the figure would be lower. The $10 a month is just an example.

For all this, it’s early days when it comes to decisions around the 2019 budget. Much will change in the months and weeks to come as more information becomes available and discussions take place. However, if we want to have a say in how our local government is run we need to be a part of those discussions. Yes, that means showing up. As you can see, attending the Township Committee meetings can be quite enlightening. I highly recommend it, though you may want to fuel up on some coffee before you get there as they tend to run a little long at times!

Kevin Doell

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