Middletown officials introduce $71.44 million municipal budget

By Kelly Giuliano
Staff Writer

The Middletown Township Committee has introduced a 2018 municipal budget and will collect the same amount of property taxes this year as was collected in 2017.

On March 19, committee members voted unanimously to introduce a $71.44 million budget. The spending plan will be funded in part through the collection of $47.44 million in taxes from residential and commercial property owners; the use of $6.26 million from surplus funds (savings); $6.05 million in state aid; and $4.16 million in local revenues, according to the committee.

In 2017, the budget totaled $73.59 million and relied on property taxes of $47.50 million.

With no significant change in the tax levy this year, the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $423,427 will continue to pay $1,841 in municipal taxes.

Municipal taxes are one component of a property owner’s total tax bill.

Middletown property owners also pay Middletown Township Public School District taxes, Monmouth County taxes and other assessments. The municipal tax rate, which will be 43.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, has a different impact on each property owner depending on the assessed value of his home and/or property.

The Township Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the budget for April 16.

Residents may ask questions about or comment on the spending plan at that time, and committee members may adopt the budget following the public hearing.

“I am happy we are once again able to offer a 0 percent increase within the budget, all without sacrificing any of our services,” Mayor Stephanie C. Murray said.

The 2018 budget will rely on a $700,000 increase in the amount of money being applied from the surplus account. Officials used $5.5 million from surplus last year and will use $6.26 million from surplus this year.

“We are using a little bit more (from surplus) this year in order to offset one-time costs,” Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lapp said.

According to township officials, the budget includes an overall operational cost reduction of more than $700,000. Reduced costs are seen in legal costs, insurance, the township clerk’s office, the police department, the Office of Emergency Management, streets and roads, health and recreation, among other accounts.

“We started the budget process early. We asked everyone (department heads) to please review where cuts could be made,” Lapp said.

One difference from 2017 to 2018 is an increase in local revenues being applied in the spending plan. In 2017, the budget used $3.59 million in local revenues and in 2018, the budget shows $4.16 million in local revenues to support the budget, an increase of $575,165.

Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante said the change in local revenues is due to an increase in cable franchise amounts to be received from Comcast and Verizon. Another factor is the interest that has been generated from property owners who prepaid a portion of their 2018 taxes following a change in federal law that will limit their property tax deduction moving forward, according to Mercantante.

“Because a lot of people prepaid their 2018 property taxes, there was a lot more money on hand to generate interest,” he said.