Marlboro council adopts $39 million budget for 2019

MARLBORO – With a 4-0 vote by the Township Council, Marlboro’s municipal budget for 2019 has been put in place and is expected to result in a $2 decrease in municipal taxes for the owner of a home assessed at the township average.

The $39.06 million budget was adopted on April 11 by council President Scott Metzger, Vice President Carol Mazzola, Councilman Jeff Cantor and Councilwoman Randi Marder. Councilman Michael Scalea was absent. No one from the public commented on the budget when given the opportunity to do so.

Under Marlboro’s form of government, the administration develops the budget and presents it to the council. The council members review and adopt the spending plan.

The $39.06 million budget was unchanged from the document that was introduced on March 7. The spending plan will be supported by the collection of $27.19 million in taxes from Marlboro’s residential and commercial property owners. Other revenues will account for the remaining $11.87 million in appropriations, according to municipal officials.

In 2018, the municipal tax rate was 37.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, the average home assessment was $493,926 and the owner of that home paid about $1,871 in municipal taxes.

In 2019, the municipal tax rate is projected to be 37.8 cents per $100. The average home assessment has increased to $494,605 and the owner of that home will pay about $1,869 in municipal taxes – a decrease of $2.

The municipal tax rate and the assessed value of a home and/or property determine the amount of municipal taxes a property owner pays.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s tax bill, which also includes Monmouth County taxes, Marlboro K-8 School District taxes, Freehold Regional High School District taxes and other assessments.

Township officials anticipate receiving $2.3 million in state aid in 2019, the same amount Marlboro received in 2018. Officials will use $5.5 million from surplus funds (savings) as revenue in the 2019 budget. In 2018, officials used $4.6 million from surplus.

In a budget statement, Mayor Jonathan Hornik said, “The challenge of managing the extreme weather conditions of the last several years continues to drive the township’s cost of operations. Our budgets have had to absorb the increased costs of snow removal, in particular, which has increased more than 300 percent since 2007.”

There are two line items under snow removal: salaries and wages, and other expenses. For 2018, the township appropriated $211,000 for salaries and wages and paid or charged $169,359 in that line item, and appropriated $1.18 million for other expenses and paid or charged $1.14 million.

For 2019, the township has appropriated $211,000 for snow removal salaries and wages and $1.02 million for snow removal other expenses.

“We also continue to grapple with state mandates, including an 11 percent increase in our New Jersey pension system contribution. Despite these pressures, we continue to deliver and expand the services our residents expect while remaining $1.95 million below the state tax levy cap and $1.24 million below the state spending cap,” Hornik said.

He said the 2019 budget provides funds for a down payment on another $5 million road improvement program.

“The erratic and extreme weather of the past decade continues to take a toll on our infrastructure and we hear from residents about road conditions more than any other issue,” the mayor said.

“With an AAA bond rating reaffirmed by Standard and Poor’s in 2018, we continue to invest in infrastructure at rates three times higher than in past years, and at the lowest cost of financing available,” he said.

Hornik said the 2019 budget includes $320,000 for the township’s share of a school security program that was initiated in 2018 with the Marlboro K-8 School District and the Freehold Regional High School District.

“School security has been the utmost importance to this council and myself and will remain very important,” he said. “Our views of the world have changed. We have to keep our students safe and the way to do that is to have an armed Marlboro police officer in each school.”

Hornik highlighted the budget’s inclusion of a $119,531 recycling tonnage grant award from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, an award three times what Marlboro has received in the past.

One of the largest line items in the municipal budget is the Marlboro Police Department. Police base salaries and wages in 2018 totaled $8.88 million. That amount is expected to increase to $9.29 million in 2019. In 2018, $505,042 was budgeted for police operations. In 2019, the budget for police operations is $607,839.