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Rise in Pension Costs Contribute to 3.13% Borough Tax Hike

The increase equates to $85 more for the average borough household.

Tammie Kopin, the chief financial officer of Chatham Borough, made a presentation of the municipal budget of $13,606,140 to the Borough Council on Monday night. The overall budget will increase by 3.66 percent over 2010, and the tax levy will increase by 3.13 percent.

Kopin said that 13 different departments in the borough made $122,600 reductions to their budget requests from 2010. Employees from the police department and the Department of Public Works renegotiated their contracts to halve their salary increases.

The 2011 local municipal tax rate increase will be 0.368, or a 1.3 cents, over the 2010 rate of 0.355. For borough residents in a home assessed at $658,000, the increase amounts to an additional $85 in taxes for 2011. Kopin said that this amount accounts only for municipal taxes, not county or school tax increases.

 

Tax Levy 2010 Tax Levy 2011 Increase in $ Increase in % $7,343,862 $7,573,840 $229,978 3.13%


"Every year we have mandatory increases in our budget that we cannot escape," Kopin said. In 2011, these mandated changes (outlined in the table below) amounted to a 3.5 percent increase since 2010.

2011 Mandatory Increases Pensions - Public Employees Retirement System $99,446 Pensions - Police and Fire Retirement System $135,377 Debt Service $90,536 Madison/Chatham Joint Meeting Contribution $13,136 DPW Contractual Salaries $35,443 Police Contractual Salaries $93,108 Non-Contract Salaries $22,105 TOTAL $489,151

The Finance Committee also restructured the timeliness of the debt service payments to reduce that amount from about $200,000 to $90,536.

Budget Caps

Kopin said, "There are two caps that we work under in a municipal budget. there's first the approproations cap, which is 3.5 percent. That puts a cap on your expenditures."

The cap for budget appropriations is 3.5 percent, for an allowable maximum of $9,357,768. The borough's budget allows for an appropriations budget of $8,736,258, or $621,510 under what the cap allows.

"When you don't go to your maximum any given year, you have two years to use that in the following year if you need to," Kopin said. The $621,510 will be available for CAP banking and use in the next two years. "You can use that for mandatory increases," Kopin said.

Under the state-mandated tax levy cap of 2 percent, the borough could raise a maximum of $7,761,632. The actual amount they will raise by taxation in 2011 is $7,573,840, with a difference of $187,792 under the 2 percent tax cap.

"If we went to that maximum," Kopin said, "we would actually be at 6.19 percent increase in the tax rate rather than a 3.6. That's because there are exemptions added to that 2 percent property tax cap." The exemptions include increases in pensions, capital improvement fund payments and debt service payments.

Incoming Revenues

The budget anticipates raising $1,679,000 from miscellaneous revenues, such as licenses, store user fees, rentals, fees and permits. State aid for Chatham Borough will remain flat from 2010 at $572,099, and the reserve for uncollected taxes is $2,021,912.

The budget also has a capital improvements budget of $1,445,480 for everything from a new in-car camera system and vests for the police department, improvements to the firehouse, roads, drainage, curbs and sidewalks, equipment for the DPW and water utility capital projects.

Kopin broke down the allocation of tax dollars for borough residents. For each tax dollar paid, 62.25 perecent goes toward the school taxes; 16.58 percent goes to the county; and 21.17 percent goes toward municipal taxes.

A formal introduction of the budget will take place at the March 28 Borough Council meeting and a vote to formally adopt the budget on April 25.

Ron Swanson March 15, 2011 at 01:47 PM
A quarter of a million $ increase in mandated pension contributions? That is outrageous and is evidence of the need for serious pension reform from Trenton. These increases remove from Borough officials the ability to manage the town's finances and reign in the tax levy increase, which at 3.13% is very high in my opinion. Also, noonoe wants to talk about what our cops are pulling in - $93,000 in salary increases for cops? Chatham isn't exactly Fort Apache - let's hope future contract negotiations aren't as generous. I know our cops do a good job, but we can't continue to have property tax increases of this magnitude.
kjchat March 15, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Agree with Rt. 124 guy.... this is just part of our tax increase (and unfortunately the smaller contributor to our overall tax burden).. sure while it sounds small, these couple of hundred dollar increases every year suddenly add up to real $$, and next thing you know your property taxes are up 50% over the course of a few years. I also don't understand how this 2.5% cap that Christie imposed is supposed to work, given that our tax increase is already above that...
Ed March 15, 2011 at 11:34 PM
Christie's tax cap ........ politics as usual ?
L22 March 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Borough residents should be outraged. This is EVERY year - an increase. It is ridiculous, given where the economy has been. I don't care that it is only 3.66% - it should be ZERO. The exceptions on the 2% cap include pension - exactly what is spiraling out of control in this state,
DMM March 20, 2011 at 05:07 PM
this tax increase is ridiculous. My income hasn't increased to keep pace with the increased cost and expenses of living here. I'm a lifelong resident of NJ and was happy to leave Essex County years ago but it looks like the corruption continues to spread. Gov. Christie needs to enforce the limits he put in place and Chatham residents, when it's time to vote, start saying "NO" to the increases and let's get these people out of office and maybe get someone in who actually represents US and not the special interests. I don't see anyone asking if this will put more of a burden on us--I love our police force but just look at other towns that are putting excessive tax burdens on their residents--they aren't pretty and I fear we are losing sight of what made Chatham a good place to live.
Jason March 21, 2011 at 02:21 PM
As a family, when money is tight and and times are tough, you cut back on the spending, you sacrifice and make do with less. How come government can't do that?! So, some of our streets don't get re-paved. Or we continued to walk on concrete instead of brick pavers. Big deal! You just say, "If we don't have the money, we can't do it." Plain and simple. I love what Gov. Christie is doing!

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