The Byram Township Council unanimously approved its $11.9 million municipal budget for 2021.
There will be a 0.89 percent increase in the municipal tax levy, with an estimated increase of around $17 for the average assessed home of $254,000, said township manager Joseph Sabatini said at the March 2 council meeting. He said Covid-19 has had an impact on the budget.
He said residents may go to the township website (byramtwp.org) and follow the quick link to 2021 municipal budget information for more information. The public hearing and adoption of the budget will be held on Tuesday, April 6.
Although Covid-19 dampened anticipated revenue, Sabatini said the budget accounts for the following reductions and increases in 2020:
● $107,000 reduction in interest income
● $10,000 reduction in court revenues
● $22,745 reduction in Garden State Preservation state aid
● $25,000 reduction from delinquent taxes
● $75,000 reduction in fund balance to support operations
● $35,000 increase in uniform construction fees because of schedule fee changes in the building department
Deputy Mayor Raymond Bonker noted that the tax levy increased by less than 1 percent despite state mandates that increased state police pensions by more than 5 percent and non-police pensions by 14 percent, all while still requiring Byram to remain within the 2 percent cap of spending increases.
Without the state mandates, Bonker said, the budget would actually have decreased taxes, as last year’s budget had.
Furthermore, he said, the 2021 budget includes sports equity for the first time, in which the township will treat all sports equally.
The council unanimously agreed to use the three-year average of Covid-19 affected revenue in the 2021 budget. Sabatini said the state passed legislation allowing Byram to average its court revenue for the last three years. Instead of being able to anticipate only $33,000, the anticipated average in the budget is $50,000.
The council also unanimously approved self-examining the budget instead of sending it to the state for approval. Sabatini said the township is allowed a self-exam every two years and send the budget to the state for approval every third year.
Route 206 tunnel work
Planned work on the Route 206 tunnel under the rail lines in Andover Borough could interrupt traffic for up to a year, said Mayor Alexander Rubenstein.
He said he would attend a conference call, along with Sabatini and Councilwoman Cris Franco, with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) to advocate for Byram Township. He said the township will challenge the DOT in decisions that seem to have already been made and recommend repair as an option.
Sabatini said the project proposes to fix culverts at the Route 206 tunnel, which run under the north and southbound lanes. The diversion of traffic would largely go through Byram Township, Roosevelt Road, and the Tamarack sections of town.
Byram’s infrastructure was not equipped to carry 206 North and South traffic for an extended period of time, Sabatini said.
The project affects Andover Borough, Andover Township, Greene Township, and Byram Township, and anyone who travels north or south on Route 206.