Borough Tax Levy Stays Under 2% Cap
Impact to average homeowner is $79.
Municipal taxes on the average Chatham Borough home will rise $79 under the terms of a $13.6 million budget introduced at Monday’s Borough Council meeting.
The overall tax levy for municipal purposes, $7,540,389, will rise 1.72 percent, Business Administrator Robert Falzarano said, under the 2 percent state-mandated cap. The rest of the budget will be funded by other revenue, including income from leases, parking, fees and state aid.
The annual municipal tax bill for a home assessed at about $600,000 will rise from $3,449 to $3,528, Falzarano said. The increase includes the library tax and the fees for water, sewer and solid waste.
A public hearing on the budget will be held April 8.
The municipal portion accounts for about 22 percent of the overall property bill, Falzarano said. School taxes make up 63 percent of the total bill, with the county tax accounting for the remaining 15 percent.
Representatives of the the Morris County freeholders will present the county budget to borough officials at the March 25 council meeting.
One of the priorities in the budget, the business administrator said, was paying down the borough’s debt. “We have a Triple-A bond rating,” Falzarano said. “That’s unusual for a municipality the size of Chatham Borough.”
State aid remains the same at $572,099. That is a drop from $925,000 in state aid received in 2007.
“That’s a dramatic impact for a small town,” Councilman James Lonergan said. “We’re falling behind.”
Since 2008, the number of municipal employees has dropped from 66 to 54. Shared services, including the municipal court, police dispatching and inspections, contribute to the net savings in the borough.
The borough will also save $100,000 in health insurance premiums because of a switch to the state program, Falzarano said.
The police department accounts for the biggest slice of the budget pie at 20 percent, down from 23 percent in 2012.
Mandatory expenses, such as salary increases, are up about $252,000 in the budget, but the overall budget is up $230,000 because of cost-cutting measures.
“The department heads understand where this town is at,” Lonergan said.
The councilman, who is also chairman of the finance committee, said the borough doesn’t “have the luxury of a padded budget.”
“We have to be as tight as we can,” he said. “In Chatham Borough, we run a pretty tight ship.”
Mayor Bruce Harris said budget planning has become part of the municipality’s “culture,” as work on the next year’s budget begins in the previous summer.
The borough council on Monday also transferred $350,000 not spent in previous bond ordinances to help fund capital projects and purchases this year. Added to this is $485,000 in new bond funds.