In Your Opinion: Mayor Kramer’s Budget Statement

By Mayor Philip Kramer

The 2016 budget is $59,488,016, which is $55,461.77 less than the 2009 budget. That’s essentially flat over 7 years despite 12 percent inflation*. If passed, the Township Council will raise the levy (the portion of the budget paid by property taxes) by 1.75 percent, or $601,307. That is the lowest tax increase again since 2009.

Our debt service, or the amount we pay on loans or bonds, is down 8.85 percent from last year ($472,312.72).
I’ll reluctantly mention the municipal tax rate because some people follow it, but I caution, it can be a misleading number taken in isolation. Remember, the municipal portion of your property taxes is only about 15 percent of the tax. That being said, in 2015 the tax rate was 37.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation and this year it’s 37.8 cents per $100.

A more accurate way to express a change in taxes is to discuss how it affects the home owner of the average home. In 2015 the average home assessed value was $309,615, this year it’s $314,275. The tax increase for the average home is $18.38.

Several years past we got behind on paving our roads. This year we continue to pave roads at an accelerated rate of $2.5 million, (something Councilman James Vassanella fought for). Because paving roads has been and will be a yearly expense for the foreseeable future, it is best to pay in cash and we are moving in that direction. This year $1 million of the $2.5 million is in cash as opposed to bonding. This is harder to work into the budget but it saves money.

This budget includes adding a Captain to our police force. Council often boosts about our excellent police force, we however currently have no Captains on it. South Brunswick with 20 percent fewer officers has three. The new Captain will provide more command and control that our Chief has ensured us will help maintain a well-disciplined force and allow for increased policing on Hamilton Street and elsewhere.

Thanks to the leadership of Councilwoman Kimberly Francois the budget includes buying the old SCAP building with plans toward building a badly need youth center.

Councilwoman Roz Sherman, looking to the future, has fought hard for an economic development program and this budget moves that agenda forward with a study which will position Franklin for economic growth, including jobs in the decade to come.

This budget also includes many capital improvements to existing parks. And in the past year we have acquired approximately 200 acres of preserved open space. I expect more soon.

In all, the state of the Township is good. While we have more work to do, we are past the worst of our financial woes.

* http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpid1602.pdf – table 24 page 69. (236.916/211.143 – 1) * 100

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