HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — The Township Committee on Monday unanimously passed a $28 million 2020 budget that calls for no increase in the local purpose tax rate.
While more than 30 people viewed the meeting online, township resident and former Committeeman and Mayor Bruce Strigh was the lone person to ask questions about the budget. Strigh is running for Township Committee as an independent, under the banner of the Hamilton Township United Democratic Club.
Strigh expressed concern that due to present circumstances many residents who are newly unemployed will be unable to pay their property taxes.
“What would happen if we run out of money?” Strigh asked.
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“We have taken numerous steps,” township Administrator Arch Liston said. “We are not replacing employees who have left, anticipate potential retirements, instituted a hiring freeze and there is a potential for layoffs.
“We have been looking at revenue projections, but only through April at this point. We should not run deficits if we manage the budget all year. If we do not receive our anticipated revenue, we may have to seek an emergency appropriation.”
The township anticipates receiving $2,887,740 in state aid, but that is in question due to the present circumstances.
“I’m glad you are anticipating a problem,” Strigh said. “You have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.”
Liston said he expects the state to waive the 2% budget cap on municipalities next year.
“We also will not have the surplus going into next year that we had this year,” he said.
“I expect businesses to seek property reassessments,” Mayor Art Schenker said. “We will continue to evaluate the situation daily.”
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The proposed budget amounts to $28,085,259 with $18,170,806 to be raised through the local purpose tax. The average township home, assessed at $162,463, will pay $1,432 in local taxes.
That includes $859 for public safety, $265 for public works, $129 for solid waste collection and $179 for general government services, Liston has said.
The township’s part of the overall tax bill amounts to 27.3%, while the county’s piece is 18.3%. The school districts’ part comprises 54.4% of the overall tax rate.
The governing body also announced that the Cove beach on Lake Lenape will reopen Friday, but swimming will not be permitted.