Upper Township introduces budget, $3.5M bond

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PETERSBURG – Township committee voted unanimously Monday to introduce an $11.6 million budget that includes no property tax increase.

The spending plan will increase by $200,000 over last year, but most of that is from the inclusion of a state grant, said township auditor Leon Costello.

The tax rate will hold at 9.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. The owner of a $300,000 home will pay $282 in taxes, not including school, county and fire district taxes.

In 2011, the township instituted its first local purpose tax in more than 50 years. There has been no tax increase since then.

Costello said the township lost $30 million in rateables thanks to reassessments. That is the norm for Cape May County towns still dealing with the drop in real estate values, he said.

Committee also unanimously introduced an ordinance authorizing a $3.5 million bond for capital improvements.

The bond would fund $1.4 million for the purchase of automated trash trucks and $1.5 million for road repaving. There is $300,000 for a new boat ramp at Bayview Ave. in Strathmere and $160,000 for improvements at Amanda’s Field baseball fields. There is also money for a new roof for Township Hall and various vehicle purchases.

Deputy Mayor Curtis Corson, Jr. said approving the bond does not mean the township will spend all the money. Projects will still have to go out to bid and be approved in a separate vote, he said.

“Every nickel we spend, we’re gonna vote on,” Corson said.

But Committeeman Tony Inserra, who has opposed parts of the bond, said, “If the money is there, we are going to spend it.”

Mayor Richard Palombo said that has not been the case in the past.

“It’s not like we haven’t been frugal,” he said. “We had one small tax increase three years ago and no increase in the next two years. We’ve had a lot of discussion on these projects. I don’t think the history of this committee is that we’re going to go out and spend money.”

Committeeman Jay Newman said the bond total was a “worst case scenario.”

“We have to prepare for the worst and work towards the best,” he said.

Inserra singled out more than $1 million for road repaving in the bond for cuts. He said some roads need to be repaved, but the township should wait a year or more before doing major work.

The last township-funded road repaving occurred in 2008 and 2009, township engineer Paul Dietrich said. The township could borrow the money at .8 percent interest, Corson said.

Costello said the tax impact of the bond could not be calculated until the township actually spends some of the money and finalizes a payment schedule.

Public hearings and final votes on the budget and bond are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 8 at Township Hall.

 


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