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Property taxes up in Somers Point, flat in Linwood, down in Northfield

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Northfield City Council on April 14 unanimously approved a municipal budget that will decrease the property-tax rate slightly from $0.968 per $100 of assessed value to $0.963.

The city’s general budget is $13,304,442, of which $8,442,419 is to be raised through local tax levy. That amount is $63,112 less than the amount raised by taxes in 2019.

The average home in Northfield is assessed at $218,158.

The public hearing on the budget was held on Zoom in accordance with state social distancing guidelines. Residents were able to view the budget on the city website prior to the meeting and were able to attend the meeting virtually and ask questions of council members.

Mayor Erland Chau said this year’s budget reflects a deliberate path of structuring the city and services within its means. He added it makes Northfield a well-run, safer and more livable community and maintains the city services residents are accustomed to while still investing in the city’s future.

Council President Frank Perri credited the tax decrease to a decrease in the number of tax appeals filed, a ratable drop of only $6.5 million over the past 12 months, shared municipal court services with neighboring Linwood, a restructuring in the Fire Department, the use of part-time employees, favorable construction fees, a resurgence of homes being rehabilitated, city debt being paid off and improved tax collections.

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If approved as proposed, Somers Point property owners will see a 2.96-cent increase on their municipal tax bill based on the budget introduced by City Council on April 23.

The 2020 spending plan of $16,712,582 calls for $11,536,693 to be raised by property taxes. The budget as proposed is $1.4 million less than last year’s overall budget of $18,126,223. The proposed budget will increase the tax rate to $1.0186 per $100 of assessed property value, up from $0.989 in 2019.

The average home in Somers Point is assessed at $210,015, according to the budget document on the Somers Point website. The tax increase would translate to residents in a home assessed at the city average paying $5.17 more per month, or an annual increase of $62.04.

The amount to be raised by taxes of $11,536,693 is up $262,004 over 2019 and includes the use of $1,996,211 in surplus. Included in the city’s budget is $5,175,889 in miscellaneous revenue derived from alcohol beverage licenses, municipal court fees, fines and permits, hotel fees and cable franchise fees.

According to city Administrator Wes Swain, the public hearing on the budget is slated for 7 p.m. May 28. It will likely be a virtual meeting.

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Property owners in Linwood will not see an increase in their municipal tax bill this year.

City Council on April 22 introduced its $13,480,513 budget, which calls for $8,804,335 to be raised by property taxes. That spending plan reflects an increase of $69,959 over 2019 but, according to Mayor Darren Matik, will not change the tax rate or impact the amount to be collected via taxes.

The municipal tax rate of $0.946 per $100 of assessed property value remains static for 2020. The average home assessment in Linwood is $298,933, according to city Chief Financial Officer Anthony Strazzeri.

Matik said the lack of a tax increase was due to privatizing landscaping services for the city, sharing services with other municipalities — such as courts with Northfield and police dispatch and sewer with Egg Harbor Township — and a leveling off of successful tax appeals in the city, with less than 60 last year compared with 230 in 2017. Residents can learn more about the budget at a council meeting 6 p.m. May 13 via Zoom. Budget committee chairman Matt Levinson and Strazzeri will present the city’s spending plan then.

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