Township eyes $4.1M capital improvement bond

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Road paving, tax reval, boat ramp included

UPPER TOWNSHIP – Township committee could bond as much as $4.1 million this year to fund infrastructure improvements and equipment purchases.

 

The cost to taxpayers could be almost four cents on the tax rate, or $120 a year for the owner of an average home.

The list of improvements includes $1.5 million for road paving, $750,000 for the purchase of three new trash trucks and 10,000 trash containers (another $350,000 of that cost will be paid by recycling grant money), $700,000 for a mandated tax revaluation, $300,000 for a new boat ramp in Strathmere, and a number of other projects.

The bond would mark the first time the township has borrowed money to pay for road paving or vehicle purchases. In the past, Upper officials have simply cut a check for what they needed.

That practice ended when Upper Township implemented a local purpose tax for the first time in 2011. The initial tax rate was 9.3 cents per $100 of assessed value. The tax rate held steady in 2012 with no increase.

Upper Township has bonded for beach replenishment projects in the past, most recently in August of 2011 when it approved a $4.2 million bond for a beach fill in Strathmere. Seventy-five percent of the cost of that project will be reimbursed by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) because the erosion occurred during storms that had been declared national disasters. The township also bonded the cost of a 2009 beach replenishment project.

It still owes around $2 million for those projects, said township finance director Barbara Spiegel. Another beach replenishment project will also be needed to repair damages in Strathmere from Hurricane Sandy, according to officials. That will cost around $3 million, with FEMA picking up 75 percent of the cost.

Many of the items have been needed for years. The township discussed a $2 million bond in 2011 but never moved forward.

The price tag has increased since then with the addition of the tax revaluation and other costs.

In October, 2011 auditor Leon Costello said the $2 million bond would increase taxes almost two cents. That equated to a tax increase of $60 a year for the owner of a $300,000 home.

At an estimated $4.1 million now, the cost to the average homeowner could double to around $120 a year. The tax impact wouldn’t be felt until 2014 when bond payments started.

Officials discussed doing the tax revaluation in-house to save money, but solicitor Dan Young said the state Division of Taxation would have to approve it. It was questionable whether the amount of work could be done by township staff, he said.

“The concern is the massive scale to do it in-house,” said Young. “You need to go into every house. That generally requires an outside firm.”

Committeeman Tony Inserra said the township should look into the option nevertheless. It could save $40,000 to $50,000, he said.

The revaluation has to be completed by next year, said Young.

Dietrich said the $4.1 million bond will fund capital expenditures required this year. Another $530,000 in improvements could be included, which would cover anticipated improvements over the next five years. That number includes the cost of a new roof for township hall ($100,000), another trash truck ($180,000), a snow plow ($125,000), pickup trucks ($60,000) and a mini-dump truck ($65,000).

Deputy Mayor Curtis Corson, Jr. said he would like to see the cost of the roof replacement moved into this year’s bond.

“In the last year it has deteriorated noticeably,” he said.

Dietrich said the roof is approaching its 20-year life. There are two areas where the roof leaks now. The township has had to do repairs and replacement will be necessary within five years, he said.

Inserra said “a lot of the things” on the list are needed. He emphasized the need for road paving especially.

“The street paving project is a five-year project,” he said. “That is something we definitely need to do.”

Other items in the bond are: $160,000 for lights at the Amanda’s Field baseball fields, $125,000 for a snow plow and spreader, $95,000 for a roadside boom mower, $95,000 for a mower for recreation, $80,000 for improvements to the municipal parking lot, $65,000 for a miniature dump truck, $50,000 for building and facility security, $45,000 for an emergency generator for the rescue squad, $60,000 for two pickup trucks, $30,000 for a vehicle fueling system, $30,000 for a vehicle lift, $14,000 for digital radios, $12,000 for a loader bucket, $9,500 for new carpet in the Township Hall meeting room, $7,000 for a groundskeeper mower, $6,500 for emergency shelter, and $6,000 for the playground on Golden Oak.

A resolution to retain bond counsel will be on township committee’s agenda for its Monday, Jan. 28 meeting. That is the first step in preparing a bond ordinance.

 


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