Pointing to increases in state pension costs, a $100,000 overrun in snow removal costs and other increases in costs and losses in revenue, the Township Committee voted on Tuesday to approve a $35.6 million municial budget which would raise the municipal tax levy for the first time in five years.
This year's municipal budget relies on taxpayers for a $17 million contribution, a 2.89 percent increase above 2010.
The increase in the tax levy from $16.6 million for last year's budget would add about $58 onto the municipal portion of the tax bill for an average township home, assessed at $518,059.60.
However, Township Administrator Bruce McArthur and other township officials pointed out the municipal portion of local property tax bills is still less than it was in 2005, at $1,342.25 for this year on the average assessed home, compared with $1,372.01 for a comparable home in 2005. Home assessments have continued to drop in recent years, McArthur noted.
Township officials said the municipality is alone in the state in reducing its tax levy over a five-year run through last year, and has controlled taxes by reducing staff and declining to take on additional debt payments.
"We have controlled taxes and spending...a tougher job every single year," said Township Committeeman John Carpenter. "We also managed to pay off our general debts."
Except for open space investments funded through a separate open space tax, the township will be completely debt free by Nov. 1 of this year, McArthur said on Tuesday.
Figures released by the township on Tuesday put the largest single budget increase for 2011 at $134,000 for pension costs required by the state.
The township also added another $100,000 to the 2011 budget to cover unanticipated extra costs for snow and ice removal this past winter. An increase in group health insurance added another $85,661 and a 2.31 percent increase in this year's police department budget added $95,530, according to township figures.
At the same time, interest income on reserves and surplus funds has dwindled to an anticipated $45,000 for this year, even less than last year's $54,000, McArthur said. In 2005, the township could expect to earn about $1 million in interest income, he said.
The municipal tax portion of a local property tax bill is about 16 percent, according to figures from McArthur.