ROBBINSVILLE – Mayor Dave Fried delivered a $21.9 million budget proposal to the Township Council that would cut taxes an average $76 in the short term, while also paying down municipal debt service to help keep taxes stable in the long term.
Council President Ron Witt called the mayor’s 2013 spending proposal a “great start” and said the council would review the thick budget binders it was given Feb. 14 in the weeks ahead.
“I appreciate the fact that we’re looking at a budget that starts with a tax decrease,” Witt said.
Fried is proposing cutting the municipal tax rate by 2 cents to 52.2 cents per $100 in assessed valuation. For a home assessed at the township average of $381,000 that means a municipal tax bill of $1,989 a year, a savings of $76.
Municipal taxes comprise about 20 percent of a homeowner’s total property tax bill. County, school, library and open space taxes account for the rest.
Fried said his budget also proposes paying down the debt service on the Kushner property, a 46-acre tract near Route 33 that the township purchased for $12 million in 2007.
Instead of making the scheduled $309,000 debt payment on the Kushner property, the mayor is proposing making an $809,000 payment that he said would help stabilize taxes in the long term.
“The more we wean ourselves off of debt the less interest we’ll be paying, which will allow us to either provide further tax relief or continue to maintain services as services get more expensive,” he said.
The mayor said the tax cut and debt service reduction has been made possible by redevelopment projects, including the 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center that Amazon will open next year off Old York Road. The 20-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program that the town signed to attract Amazon to Robbinsville will provide a total $20.1 million in revenue for the town, county and school district over the next 20 years, beginning in 2014.
In the meantime, the project will provide $650,000 this year in farmland rollback taxes, which are separate from the PILOT revenue, to reflect the change in the intended use of the property. State law requires developers to pay farmland rollback taxes whenever land assessed at a much lower farmland rate changes ownership and use.
“We were able to win a very big ratable, which provides a significant amount of revenue,” Fried said. “The administration showed a lot of restraint in not spending the money and providing it for tax relief.”