BY KATHY CHANG
HELMETTA — The 2016 municipal budget carries a $100 tax increase for the average homeowner in the borough.
The Township Council adopted the $2.07 million budget, which is increasing $6,300 from last year’s budget, at a meeting May 18.
The amount to be raised by taxation to support the municipal budget totals $1.35 million from last year’s tax levy of $1.27 million.
The tax rate is estimated to be 72.8 cents, which reflects a tax increase of 4.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation over the 2015 municipal tax rate for the average home of $205,000, which was at about 68 cents.
There were increases in employee group insurance from $194,458 to $222,360 and the first aid squad contribution from $4,000 to $15,000.
Borough officials have said they are in discussion to renegotiate a shared service agreement with Spotswood for emergency medical services.
There were decreases in general administration salaries and wages from $42,000 to $25,200; however, there were increases for the salaries and wages for the Public Works Department from $106,000 to $122,185.
There were increases for the contribution to the public employees’ retirement system from $21,473 to $28,647 and contribution to the police and firemen’s retirement system of New Jersey from $56,649 to $69,966.
The municipal state aid that the borough received remained level at $16,907.
Gerard Stankiewicz, public accountant for the borough, said borough officials need to continue to monitor every line item through the end of the year.
Stankiewicz said this year’s budget included $15,000 for what is left of animal shelter service fees that need to be paid. Last year, some $49,651 was budgeted for animal shelter service fees. The Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter has been vacant since it was shut down in December, 2015. Borough officials are currently seeking request for proposal (RFP) for the two-story building located at 58 Main St.
Councilman Joe Perez said putting together the budget was a long, drawn out process with everyone working together.
He said to keep in line with best practices, the borough’s finance committee will meet regularly, which he said has not been done in the past.