Township finance director Barbara Spiegel and auditor Leon Costello present a $13 million budget for 2018, which includes a tax rate increase of about a penny per $100 of assessed value. The public hearing and final vote is planned of April 9.

Bill Barlow / For The Gazette

UPPER TOWNSHIP — The Township Committee on Monday unanimously introduced a $13.14 million budget, which includes an increase to the tax rate of slightly more than a penny.

The township shaved down the proposed increase after township auditor Leon Costello found some additional revenue from 2017 that could be applied to this year’s budget. About half of that extra revenue went to offset the expected tax increase, with the rest going to surplus, said Committeeman John Coggins, who oversees revenue and finance.

As proposed, the budget includes a tax rate of 18.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to township Finance Director Barbara Spiegel, an increase of 1.1 cents on the rate. That would mean the owner of a property assessed at $300,000 would owe $546 in municipal taxes if the budget is approved as introduced. That’s $33 more than last year. That number does not include school or county taxes.

A public hearing and final vote are set for April 9.

Costello presented the budget at the meeting. There was little discussion from Township Committee, but the introduction came after a series of budget workshops.

“Even though you’ve been working on this for several months, this is the formal state process starting point, believe it or not,” Costello said. “You beat it up pretty good for three or four work sessions.”

Costello said the committee needed three separate votes on budget issues at the meeting. The first introduced an ordinance establishing the cap bank, which has become a standard part of budget planning in recent years. Costello said the township’s budget proposal was within both the state’s spending cap and the state cap on increases to the tax levy.

“You’re not exceeding anything,” Costello told committee members.

A second vote formally introduced the budget, while the third affirmed that the township complies with federal employment guidelines under the Civil Rights Act. Costello said that vote was needed because of a change in the law last year.

“It’s a new thing,” Costello said. “You haven’t seen this before. You have no issues with it, other than to say that you’re going to do this.”

While committee members had no discussion Monday on the budget proposal on, the governing body had gone over the budget in detail in a series of workshop meetings starting in January. At those meetings, Coggins described this year’s proposal as a very tight budget, even as committeemen looked for ways to trim hundreds of thousand of dollars in hopes of avoiding a tax rate increase.

About half of Upper Township’s municipal budget is funded by $6.2 million from the state in energy tax receipts connected to the BL England power station in Beesleys Point.

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