Good news for taxpayers in Berkeley Township who will see finances remain the status quo in 2019.

The municipal tax rate in the budget introduced at the township council meeting on Monday night shows no increase and the municipal tax rate will remain the same at .6460 of $100.00 of assessed valuation, according to Mayor Carmen Amato.

This is the third municipal budget in the last 5 years that has no municipal tax increase for homeowners.

The 2019 introduced Budget is under the State mandated 2% Levy Cap (amount to be raised by taxation cap) by $5,301,015.00 while the total municipal tax amount on an Average Assessed Single Family home of $201,200.00 is $1,299.72 for 2019 which covers all current municipal services, replacement of equipment and infrastructure improvements.

The Municipal portion of the overall tax bill is about 30% with 70% of the remaining overall tax bill for the Schools and County portion.

In a comparison to 2018, the total amount of the 2019 introduced Budget is $47,046,044.36 when lined up against the 2018 final Budget which was $46,716,487.43.

That reflects an increase of only $329,556.93 or a 0.71% increase over the 2018 final Budget.

The introduced Budget is under the State mandated 2% spending cap by $3,262,807.99.

An increase in the overall budget reflects contractual obligations and debt service.

The Operations and Expenditures in the introduced budget are once again frozen at 2018 levels.

"The Percentage of Tax Collection for 2018 was 98.20% compared to 98.79% in 2017 - down slightly because in 2017 many homeowners prepaid their 2018 taxes in 2017 prior to the new federal tax law effective date," Amato said. "The new law had a cap on SALT of $10,000."

The introduced Budget includes $2,552,725.44 for the Reserve for Uncollected Taxes.

Here is the breakdown of the Reserve for Uncollected Taxes:

  • Municipal: $652,003.49.
  • Open Space: $10,832.14.
  • County $470,903.52.
  • Schools $1,147,748.85.

"The municipality has no control over this line item," Amato said. "The Township lost nearly 100 million in Ratables from the Super storm Sandy, down turn in the market and economy."

RATABLES:

2010: 5,172,590,600

2014: 5,089,815,160

2019: 5,175,652,820

"We are now fully recovered from those losses," Amato said. "This budget emphasis remains on long range financial stability, continued public infrastructure improvements and our continuing commitment to provide the important services that our residents have come to expect."

An analysis conducted by New Jersey Advance Media in 2018 found that Berkeley Township has the 27th lowest overall property taxes in the entire state of New Jersey and 2nd lowest overall property taxes in all of Ocean County.

"I want thank the members of Township Council who have worked with me to keep costs down. The State of New Jersey has 565 communities and we are the 27th lowest," Amato said. "The average Berkeley Township homeowner pays less than half of the statewide average property tax bill. That is a significant accomplishment we all can be proud of."

In 2015, the rating service Standards & Poor’s increased Berkeley’s bond rating two notches from "A-" to "A+" and last year, raised them up another notch to "AA-".

"The increase in rating affirms our stable financial outlook and is based on the Township’s strong budgetary performance, flexibility and very strong liquidity," Amato said. "Once again we are extremely pleased that S&P has recognized the extreme effort we have made to be financially responsive to our taxpayers despite these difficult economic times. We are very proud to have received two bond upgrades in three years."

The rise of the bond raising will result in a high credit worthiness that means lower interest rates and savings on thousands of dollars for taxpayers.

"Considering what we’ve endured in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy and the resulting loss of ratables and downturn in the local economy, I am really proud of what we’ve done to keep Berkeley Township an affordable place to live for our hard working families and seniors living on fixed incomes," Amato said.

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