Budgets and Audits
Listing files in 'PGBudgets'
Listing files in 'PGAudits'
A Few Words about the 2015 Municipal Budget
The Borough Council recently completed the 2015 Municipal Budget after four months of review and deliberations in what would best be characterized as a comprehensive exercise of due diligence conducted by the Mayor, Councilmembers, and administrative staff. Collectively, we solicited the input from the various department heads who were present to justify their anticipated and respective needs in order to provide the most cost effective means to maintain, or in some instances improve upon, the services that are provided to our residents. Tim Vrabel, the borough auditor, further examined the results of that exercise for purposes of accuracy and compliancy. The resultant budget was then subject to a public hearing that was held on April 14th.
In short, the municipal tax rate remains unchanged from 2014; however, the municipal taxpayer will realize a slight increase in property taxes directly related to an increase in property assessments as compared to the previous year. There was a 2.77% increase in net property values municipal-wide, with the residential component experiencing the greatest increase of 4.07%. The average residential property value for 2014 was $640,038.00, but with the increased reassessment, that same property today is valued at $666,088.00. So the municipal tax levy apportioned to each property is the product of the calculated tax rate (unchanged from the previous year at .536), multiplied by the corresponding property reassessment, which in this example has increased from $3,436.02 to $3,572.67, or a net average increase of $136.64 per residential household.
The municipal ‘in-cap’ appropriations (anticipated expenditures) have increased only .73%, or $33,221.54, relative to the prior year, which is notably below the statutory 3.5% spending cap that would have allowed for an increase in spending of $158,418.05. I share this with you to demonstrate the council’s resolve to be fiscally prudent, this notwithstanding the progressively increasing health care costs and awarded salary-merit increases to our deserving staff.
The municipal tax levy is the total amount necessary to support the municipal appropriations in any given budget, minus the calculated miscellaneous revenue anticipated to alleviate that burden. Our straight levy comparison is $98,445.41 higher than last year, which represents a 2.67% increase. This ostensibly exceeds the mandated 2% tax levy cap; however, the statutory method to calculate the tax levy cap places that figure at $170,545.72 under the permitted tax levy limit, which in this budget translates to 4.32% under the tax levy cap. All things considered and despite this year’s favorable calculations, the borough council will nonetheless remain cognizant to identify and cultivate new revenue sources, this while exploring new approaches to minimize rising expenditures, such as the prospect of shared services, addressing the tide of rising health care, and adhering to a philosophy that will make us less dependent and obligated on debt as a means to address our capital needs. It is important to note that Mayor Muller’s past efforts to establish and perfect a shared court system with Bedminster has effectively reduced our court expenditures this year by approximately $70,000.00. This is indeed promising and should serve as a model for other considered shared services moving forward.
The council has also adopted a philosophy to conservatively reduce our dependency on debt service to satisfy future capital needs; for instance, we have collaborated with both the police department and DWP to acquire new utility vehicles on a pay-as-you-go basis (as opposed to assuming new debt obligations), and to do so on a fixed schedule that will permit versatility of vehicle use over a protracted time frame. In addition, there was a consensus to commit more money to our Capital Improvement Fund relative to the prior two years. This fund serves as reserve to cover multi-year expenditures of major capital projects with the intent to stabilize debt and to reduce borrowing costs. Instead of exercising an ad hockery approach to municipal budgeting, the mayor and councilmembers remained not only diligent to the municipality’s current needs, but were also presciently mindful of the future needs and expectations.
The council unanimously adopted this budget on the 14th of April because it not only maintains the the current level of municipal services provided to the residents with least possible tax burden, but also because it establishes a meaningful template to remain fiscally responsible in subsequent years.
Anthony T. Suriano
Chairman of the Finance Committee
Borough of Peapack & Gladstone
Borough of Peapack & Gladstone
1 School Street, PO Box 218,
Peapack, NJ 07977
Chief Financial Officer, Tax Collector, Sewer Collector
Mary P. Robinson, CMFO, CTC
Phone: (908) 234-2250 ext. 102
Deputy Treasurer, Purchasing Coordinator, Payroll Clerk, Assistant Tax Collector
Phone: (908) 234-2250 ext. 103