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Slight Tax Hike as Manchester OKs Transition Year Budget

Spending plan required as township changes from fiscal to calendar year operation

Manchester residents will see a slight increase on their property tax bills because of a change in assessed valuations, even as the amount of tax revenue in the $16.1 million transition year 2012 budget remains flat. 

Introduced by the Township Council on Sept. 24 and unanimously approved Monday evening, the transition year budget includes an annualized property tax increase of $7.50 for a home assessed at $125,000, according to township CFO Diane Lapp. 

The property tax rate increased from .509 to .52 per $100 of assessed value because the valuation of properties in the township decreased from calendar years 2011 to 2012, Lapp said. The township's rateable base is $3.96 billion, down from $4.08 billion in the fiscal year 2012 budget, and a penny increase on the tax rate raises $396,428.

Fiscal to Calendar Year Accounting

The transition year budget is required for township operation between July and December as Manchester switches from a fiscal to calendar year operation, a change "highly recommended" by the state, Lapp said. 

Because it covers half of a year, the budget was not subject to the 2 percent or other appropriations caps but had to come in between 95 and 105 percent of 50 percent of the 2012 fiscal year budget, which ended in June, Lapp said.

"Which we did. That was the only criteria from the state, besides submitting the application to them," she said.

The amount to be raised by taxation is $10,288,856.84, which is flat from the calendar year 2012 amount. That budget raised $20.5 million in property tax revenue.

"For the municipal part of it, it's remained stable," said Council President Craig Wallis. "So that's a good thing."

The budget includes $16,192,863 in total expenditures. Of that, 42 percent goes toward salaries and 58 percent is operating revenues, Lapp said, which includes the debt service, healthcare premiums and statutory expenditures.

The township will utilize $525,000 in surplus, leaving $900,000 in that account. State aid came in at $3.9 million and the receipt from deliquent taxes is $800,000, according to Lapp.

"We had an excellent collection rate late year, over 98 percent," Lapp said.

Over 2,000 property tax appeals were filed last year, Lapp said. Those appeals will be reflected in the upcoming tax bills.

"We're estimating that the credits for tax appeals will be $1.3 to $1.6 million, but we do see that it could go as high as $1.8 million," she said. "So we have set some money aside, almost $1 million for tax appeals, and we're also going to do some budget cuts so that we will be able to maintain the payments that we have to make up for our tax appeals and also so that it doesn't hit our surplus too badly."

'People are Hurting Financially'

Few residents in attendance at the meeting spoke during the public hearing on the budget. Leisure Village West resident Fred Lund questioned what the township is doing to alleviate financial burdens to homeowners during the current economic downturn. 

"People are hurting financially, in particular seniors on fixed incomes," Lund said.

Lund suggested that employees contribute more toward their health insurance, work to find a way to stop payment for accumulated sick leave, and cut costs in the township's Department of Recreation, an area Lund said increased over the 50 percent allotment for this budget.

"The first two are state law and there's not much we can do to correct them," Wallis said. The Recreation Department fee appeared greater than half of a full year's budget because most programs are held in the summer, which is covered in this budget; fewer programs are held in the fall and winter, Wallis said.

Switching from a fiscal year to calendar year operation is expected to make things easier for residents.

"The theory for that is our residents will receive one tax bill per year," Lapp said. "I said theoretically because there are exceptions. If you receive a Homestead rebate, rebates are now credits on your tax bill which requires us to send you a revised bill."

A calendar year cycle also better aligns with municipal elections, which residents voted to move to November from May, Wallis has said. Terms will begin in January. 

Half-year utility budgets were also approved: 

  • Eastern water: $1.5 million, eastern sewer: $2.26 million.
  • Western water: $1.045 million and western sewer: $1.5 million. 

"The rates for all utilities have been stable and the utilities have been self-liquidating," Lapp said. 

The township has taken over operations from United Water in both of the service areas, which saved about $400,000, according to Wallis.

Work has begun on the 2013 budget, Lapp said, adding that department heads will soon meet with administrators to work on numbers.

Menendez & Corzine Perfect Together October 25, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Nobody special - "Still no raise....lil over 2 years and I pay % for my benefits...sick time is capped already....I dont understand how much more the town wants to keep taking without giving...inflation is through the roof with no compensation in any form" That's really strange.....that is what a large share of the taxpayers are saying about themselves too. Should they pay more taxes for you at their own detriment? You say inflation is through the roof. I agree. What the heck is Menendez or Obama doing to fix it? Sick time is capped. Why wouldn't it be? If you are sick and take off you get paid. if you work you get paid. Should taxpayers really pay you a 2nd time for not being sick even though you got paid to work? If Menendez and Obama would stop spending trillions and borrowing from China and raising taxes on businesses, people might find work.
nobodyspecial October 25, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Since you want to get technical and political let's go....Corzine started his own hedge fund...whoops yea lil over million in funds missing and lawsuits filed...NEXT.. in last 3 1/2 years Obamas inflation package sky rocked burring us gas milk etc. making it harder for us...all of us to get ahead.. NEXT...since the politic part is put aside let's talk facts again..you say large share that pay taxes support us....you mean the 33.1% that are under the age 55 of the town population pay taxes to support us. Yes! And the people on payroll are paying the same too!But before you jump to conclusions let's just get something straight.you can work at McDonalds and get paid sick time...no one is crying to Ronald are they?...we are getting way off topic... the point is stop looking at the little guy barley eating peanuts and start looking at the big guy eating steak and tail...the money isn't coming to us...
Common Sense Kills October 25, 2012 at 11:48 PM
It's easy to pick on the guys that the public only sees...there always on the spot light out on the road....but like special said....if only the tax payers could see....its all public knowledge app.com data universe it...see for your self
Dan January 21, 2013 at 03:26 PM
STATE OF NEW JERSEY LOCAL FINANCE BOARD NOTICE OF VIOLATION In Re: [Michael Fressola, Mayor, Township of Manchester, Complaint This matter having come before the Local Finance Board (Board) pursuant to the Local Government Ethics Law, N.J.S.A. et seq., upon complaint that Mayor Michael Fressola used the address and telephone number of the Township of Manchester City Hall in a political mail piece, using the resources of the Township for his personal gain and securing unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself and his campaign in violation of N.J.S.A. and, WHEREAS, the Board determined that the allegations were within its jurisdiction, were not frivolous and were based upon a reasonable factual basis, authorized an investigation of this complaint; and WHEREAS, the Local Government Ethics Law states: N.J.S.A. 40A: No local government officers or employee shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or advantages for himself or others; and,
Dan January 21, 2013 at 03:27 PM
WHEREAS, the Board, having considered the matter and the relevant statements and presented and all documentation with the written response to the allegations submitted by Mayor Fressola, concluded that the use of the Municipal Building address and telephone number in the letterhead of a political mailer distributed in connection with the May 11, 2010 election constitutes the use or attempted use of Mayor Fressola's official position to secure an unwarranted privilege or advantage for himself or others in violation of N.J.S.A. It is therefore, DETERMINED that Mayor Michael Fressola shall be assessed a fine in the amount of $100.00 for the violation as related to his engaging in activities prohibited by the statute. Said fine shall be payable to: Treasurer, State of New Jersey, and be submitted to: Thomas H. Neff, Chair, Local Finance Board, P.O. Box 803, Trenton, New Jersey, 08625 immediately. If payment of said fine is not received within 10 days receipt of this NOTICE, Mayor Fressola is subject to additional fines as determined by the Board in accordance with its powers in N.J.S.A.40A:9- 22.10, Violations and Penalties.

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