Council Sends Out Appeal to Tax-Exempt Groups
Because of Lawrence Township's budget woes, township council has sent out a letter to dozens of tax-exempt organizations asking those groups to make a “voluntary contribution” equal to 25 percent of the property taxes they do not pay.
As discussed at their June 6 meeting, members of Lawrence Township Council recently sent out a letter to dozens of tax-exempt organizations and institutions in the township asking those groups to consider making a “voluntary contribution” equal to 25 percent of what they would pay in property taxes were they not exempt.
The appeal is in response to the township’s ongoing financial problems, as outlined in a news release issued Wednesday (Aug. 1) by Township Manager Richard Krawczun:
Tax exempt organizations, excluding government owned properties, located in Lawrence Township, account for $287,584,000 in assessed value for which no real estate taxes are collected. The amount that assessment would generate for just municipal real estate tax revenue is $2,500,000, which is greater than the budget gap that Lawrence faced in 2012.
Lawrence Township has been confronting many budgetary challenges. Some of those challenges are dramatic reductions in state aid, declines of miscellaneous revenues and less available surplus as budget revenue due to tax appeals. Since only 2010 Lawrence Township has lost $160,287,000 in ratables due to tax appeals. The township is responsible for the full refund of all successful appeals including the full portion of county and school taxes. In response to these challenges, staff has been reduced from 212 employees in 2008 to 182 employees in 2012, outstanding debt has been refinanced, fees raised and capital spending reduced.
The Township Council has pointed out that the township has tightened its belt and residents have shouldered the burden of higher taxes. Now the tax exempt organizations are being asked to consider providing a voluntary contribution to support municipal services. The council has asked that any contributions be received before Oct. 31 in order to facilitate the preparation of the 2013 municipal budget.
"The Lawrence Township municipal government is responsible for a wide range of services, public safety, public health, maintenance of roads, buildings, parks and community development operations,” Mayor Jim Kownacki said in Wednesday’s news release. “Residents, businesses and visitors all benefit from these services, as do the tax exempt property owners within our community."
Councilman Greg Puliti was quoted in the news release as saying: "The time has come that we not only seek financial support from Rider University and The Lawrenceville School for voluntary contributions, but as a matter of equity we request a voluntary contribution from all tax exempt organizations in Lawrence Township."
A PDF list of all tax-exempt properties in Lawrence Township (except for those owned by the government and disabled veterans), as provided by Krawczun’s office, can be found in the media box above.
A sampling of the dozens of tax-exempt groups on the list include: Lawrenceville School, Rider University, Educational Testing Service, the Diocese of Trenton, Chapin School, Project Freedom, HomeFront, the American Legion, Babe Ruth baseball, and numerous churches and other religious organizations of various denominations.
For Municipal Budget Background, See:
- July 18: “Council to Ponder More Layoffs, Ending Garbage Pickup”
- June 21: “Cuts to Township Brush Collection Schedule Proposed”
- June 11: “Township to Seek 'Voluntary Contributions' from Tax-Exempt Organizations”
- May 24: "Amended Municipal Budget Adopted, Layoffs to Happen"
- May 24: "Letter to the Editor: 'Day of Reckoning' for Lawrence"
- May 18: “Letters to the Editor: Police Chief Should Retire”
- May 16: “Township Council Moves Forward With Layoff Plan”
- May 14: “Letter to the Editor: ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship”
- May 2: “Patch Readers: No Cuts to Police”
- May 2: “Township Council to Decide Budget Changes by May 15”
- April 25: “Balancing Lawrence Township’s Budget”
- April 20: “Help the Council Balance the Budget”
- April 20: “Council Gets an Earful in Wake of Referendum's Defeat”
- April 18: "Tax Increase, School Budget Shot down by Voters"
- April 16: “Governor Weighs in on Municipal Tax Referendum”
- April 16: “Sample Ballot for Tuesday’s Election Contains Error”
- April 13: “Letter to the Editor: Resident Opposed to Tax Hike Urges Council to 'Go Back to Drawing Board'”
- April 12: “Municipal Tax Referendum Forum to be Held Tonight”
- April 11: “Letter to the Editor: Township Manager Explains 'Need' for Tax Referendum's Approval”
- April 10: "Letter to the Editor: Municipal Tax Referendum is 'Best Option to Preserve Services With the Least Cost'"
- April 2: "Residents Grill Township Officials on Tax Referendum"
- March 28: “School Budget, Municipal Tax Referendum Subjects of Rival Meetings Thursday”
- March 26: “Municipal Budget Introduced, Stage Set for Tax Increase Referendum”
- March 26: “Last Chance to Register to Vote for School Board & Tax Referendum”
- March 20: “Township Manager Answers Tax Referendum Questions”
- March 14: “Trash ‘User Fee’ Would Be Mandatory If Tax Referendum Is Voted Down”
- March 8: “Usage Rate for Sewer Bill to Increase 15 Percent”
- Feb. 23: “36 Layoffs, Recreation Cuts Rejected by Town Council”
- Feb. 9: “Details of Tax Referendum, Other Alternatives Given”
- Jan. 18: “Township Manager Presents Proposed 2012 Budget, Recommends Referendum to Exceed Tax Increase Cap”