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Slight Tax Increase Projected in Chatham Borough

Final numbers are yet to be determined, councilman says.

Chatham Borough Councilman James Lonergan said borough residents could face a tax rate increase of between 1.5 and 2.5 percent.

The borough has felt the pinch of several declines in revenue, Lonergan said, including a decline in the tax base, decline in state aid and a decline in the reserve for uncollected taxes.

"We've tried to make up the difference," Lonergan said. Because the tax rate increase is limited by the state, that difference has usually been made up through user-based fees, such as water and sewer rates.

The reserve for uncollected taxes has also helped fill the hole made by the economic decline. Now, Lonergan said, the borough has to replenish the funds.

"This is one of the things the credit agencies look at when they give out ratings," Lonergan said, and holding on to a good credit rating is important with the economy barely starting to turn around.

2012 also presented other, unforeseen challenges that will have to be absorbed by the 2013 budget, including Hurricane Sandy and ongoing litigation, especially against TriCare.

The borough's anticipated budget for 2013 is $13.43 million, a slight increase over the 2012 budget of about $13.42 million.

"We're waiting for the auditors to send their statements," Lonergan said, "but we're shooting for an tax increase betwen 1.5 and 2.5 percent." Without Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing litigation, "we probably would have had close to a zero percent increase," Lonergan said.

Sewer rates will increase by two cents, from $3.45 per cubic foot to $3.47 per cubic foot.

A full presentation of the budget will be made on Feb. 25, Lonergan said.

Ron Swanson January 31, 2013 at 02:09 PM
How about we finally start talking about a taboo topic: merging police forces with neighboring towns or perhaps even at the county level. Too many police forces, too many police chiefs = high property taxes.
kjchat January 31, 2013 at 04:00 PM
there's always some excuse or unforseen circumstances... I'm waiting for the unforseen and unexpected flat or decrase in my property taxes.. can't wait to see the impact of the school budget...
desktopalert January 31, 2013 at 04:26 PM
Merger and consolidation sounds logical initially, but a very bad idea in my opinion. Chathamites want and deserve a best-of-breed police force; a best of breed team of town workers and our own municipal buildings. If you start swapping out the prestige and character and history of the town we become another brick in the wall instead of standout autonomous town (which we are) that has a most personal fabric and intimacy that makes Chatham OUR town, not just another town. You get what you pay for in my opinion. If we start outsourcing what and who we are through "consolidation" you remove the Chin from the town and borough. It is our town's character and trusted local elected officials who live among us that make Chatham the nicest place I have ever lived in in my 53 years (except two weeks in Tahiti!)
kjchat January 31, 2013 at 05:09 PM
to illustrate a point, which chatham are you talking about?
desktopalert January 31, 2013 at 05:10 PM
BOTH. I keep in mind that maybe someday we may "consolidate" the two. Ughhh.
John January 31, 2013 at 06:10 PM
That comment shows a complete lack of understanding for where the majority of our property tax dollars go which is to schools and to Trenton. You can merge all the Police and DPW's you want. It will have almost no effect on your property tax bill but a huge effect on the excellent services which we have become accustomed to. I'm not giving up my own P.D. and DPW to save $100 a year on a $15K property tax bill!

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