LINWOOD — There will be no municipal tax rate increase for Linwood residents this year. City Council introduced a $13,047,214 municipal budget for 2021 at its March 24 meeting that holds the line on taxes. The total budget is down $676,387 from 2020 and reflects a tax rate of .929 cents per $100 of assessed property value. The budget slightly decreases the debt tax rate for 2021 to .039, down from .043 last year.
Councilman Matt Levinson presented the budget and explained the spending plan, while down overall, increases the operating budget for the municipality to $4,036,326. That is up from $3,942,030. Levinson highlighted the increased costs that have been passed on to the city. Increases in statutory costs, which include pensions, are up $62,204. Buildings and grounds costs are up $52,000 and the group health insurance increased $62,588.
Levinson said tax appeals and the decline in ratables continue to hit taxpayers in the wallet. The city’s net valuation is $930,606,100, a decrease from 2020 of $192,300 due to tax appeals. The city had 71 successful tax appeals in 2020 that resulted in $4,484,400 in lost ratables and $159,465 in lost tax revenue. Linwood Mayor Darren Matik said he is hopeful residential tax appeals will decrease significantly, citing the upward trend of local real estate values thus far this year. The tax collection rate was at its highest in several years at 98.76%.
Keeping the city residents safe is the largest portion of the city budget. Linwood police salary and wages are scheduled to be $2,031,884 for the year. That is up $16,102 over 2020. The police operating budget decreased for this year by $16,349, dropping from $147,399 in 2020 to $131,050 for 2021.
The public works operating budget remained static from 2020 at $175,000. Public works salary and wages increased by $11,444 for the year, going from $444,337 in 2020 to $455,781 for this year. The city of Linwood fire department operating budget remained the same as 2020 at $80,500. Salary and wages increased over last year, going from $365,898 to $377,292.
The city’s capital budget is $75,000, down from $4,778,000 in 2020. Many capital projects such as street repaving and sewers replacement were completed in 2020. The city continues to see significant savings through shared services such as dispatch that is shared with the Egg Harbor Township Police Dept., shared municipal court with Northfield along with shared EMS services with the City of Northfield.
Levinson said the municipal tax bill represents only a small portion, 26%, of the local taxes property owners pay each year. Schools represent the largest share of the tax bill pie, with Mainland Regional School taking 21% and Linwood School District taking 36% along with 1% for Linwood school debt. The county portion of the tax bill is 13% and residents pay 1% of their tax bill to support the operation and programming at the Linwood Library.
Matik said the city continues to operate in an efficient manner that keeps a close eye on balancing services and the needs of the taxpayers.