Good news for township tax payers came out of last week’s council meeting, as the township approved an introduction of the 2012 budget that will see the municipal tax rate remain flat.
Mayor Randy Brown said the $32.9 million budget was approved by all members of council.
“We will have a 0 percent tax increase again. We are staying at the same budget number as last year with no municipal tax increase. We’ve been asked by the residents to continue to provide them services and do it at a reduced cost. We are finding a way to make it happen right now,” Brown said. “A lot of credit goes to Tom Shanahan and Bill Cromie, and more importantly, all of our department heads who are coming up with creative ways to provide services without increasing manpower, utilizing their equipment better, and working with other entities such as the school district to save money.”
Brown said that while it’s great to keep the tax rate flat, the most impressive aspect of this budget is for the first time in four years, the township is not depending on deferred school taxes.
When Brown came to the council, he said the budget depended on $3 million in deferred taxes to keep the rate low. Now the budget has no school tax deferrals. Depending on school tax deferrals is what gets municipalities in trouble in the long run, he said.
“We have zero dollars in school tax deferral. That’s what buried Medford; it’s basically a credit card payment and when their reliance on the school tax deferral came due and they couldn’t make the payment, it killed them,” Brown said.
To continue to cut costs, the township council voted to public an RFP for grass cutting services. Cromie recently gave a presentation that estimated outsourcing the service could annually save the township close to $269,000.
The council is also investigating its fee ordinance to possibly adjust fees for field usage, Brown said. If the investigation finds the township is charging less for field usage than surrounding municipalities, the fees may be increased in the future.
Brown reminded taxpayers the last time the township raised taxes was two years ago when the township suffered through 160 inches of snow.
“We didn’t get a fair amount of money from FEMA or the state. If we had gotten the proper amount, we never would have had to raise the tax rate,” Brown said.
The budget is expected to be passed on second reading at an upcoming council meeting.