As expected, the Township Council approved a $47.9 million budget that keeps the tax rate at 72 cents per $100 of assessed valuation Tuesday evening. The council began the budget process looking at a 10-cent tax rate increase, but whittled that amount down while analyzing about 700 line items in this year's budget.
"All of us take this job seriously, particularly when crafting the municipal budget," said Councilman Charles Carley. "All of us have a dedication to make sure, with what we have control of, that we can make a positive difference."
, from 72 cents to 75 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The council was then able to reduce the 3-cent increase down to zero.
"We got where we wanted, even though it didn't look like it was possible," said Councilman Joseph Camarota. "The residents of this town wanted this. A zero increase is unfortunately not a decrease, but we didn't cut any services."
. The township received money back from the state for cleanup of a landfill on New Road, .
"History will be made for the township tonight," said Councilman John O'Sullivan of the adopted budget. "The work on next year's budget has already started."
O'Sullivan said the township is already faced with nearly 400 tax appeals that could impact next year's budget. The council started the process this year facing a major loss of revenue due to a high number of successful tax appeals. The success of South Brunswick companies in challenging their property values resulted in the loss of over $100 million in ratables last year, according to township officials.
Over the last seven years, the township's ratable base has decreased by $180 million.
However, township officials are hopeful the pension and health reforms passed last year will take more of an effect next year.
"This process has become more difficult for every town because we no longer have the luxury of the economy growing," said Mayor Frank Gambatese. "Now in this economy, it really requires (fiscal) discipline."