Tax rate to increase to two percent
Council adopts budget at April 7 meeting
Deputy Mayor Jerry Murphy said the Economic Development Committee met to discuss the sewer hook-up fees for businesses and its high costs.
“It’s a concern for everyone in town regarding economic development. They are extremely high,” Murphy said. “ We need to do something to reduce those fees.”
Murphy said the committee will consult with the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority.
“How we are going to go about this remains to be seen,” Murphy said.
BY JOE WESTON
Sparta — The Town Council unanimously adopted the 2014 budget at their April 7 meeting, increasing the tax rate by two percent over last year’s budget, according to Municipal Town Manager William Close.
“I think this is an excellent budget,” said Town Manager William Close. “It represents an outstanding job in keeping the tax rate to a minimum while maintaining high service standards.”
Budget appropriations for 2014 were $24.9 million, an increase of 1.75 percent over last year’s actual expenditures, according to the 2014 Municipal Budget Public Hearing Report.
The budget showed the heaviest line items as the police department at 19 percent, an uncollected taxes reserve at 13.5 percent, insurance at 13 percent, municipal debt service at 7.6 percent, roads at 7.5 percent, pension costs at 5.6 percent, library at 4.2 percent, and capital improvements at 4 percent.
The other departments such as finance, tax collector, tax assessor, legal, court, engineering, buildings and grounds, land use, fire, code enforcement, First Aid, dispatching, recreation, and utilities made up the balance, according to the released report.
Sparta Township CFO Sam Rome said that due to homeowners seeking and winning a reduction in property taxes, the average residential home in Sparta was calculated at an assessed value at $293,400 in 2014, down from $295, 900 in 2013.
Rome showed a comparison of Sparta Township’s property assessment per $100,000 of assessed value against other neighboring townships and said that Sparta’s tax rate was relatively low.
Sparta was listed as 15 lowest out of 24 townships, although the comparison does not include school or county taxes.
Rome said the municipal tax rate increased by 21.34 percent in 10 years while the school tax rate increased more than 84 percent in 10 years.
The budget includes a cash surplus of $2,550,000.
“There were a couple of years when there was zero or a negative surplus,” Rome said. “You can see on the chart how we have progressed out of that now. We’ve actually started banking the surplus and have cash in the bank.”
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