Dear Lawrence Township Residents:
I would like to take a few minutes from your busy schedule to briefly explain the need for approval of a referendum to exceed the state imposed limit on raising the municipal taxes. The limit or "cap" mandates that the aggregate amount raised from taxes cannot exceed two percent (2%) above the prior year. The limit is not on the tax rate.
The first question you must have is how did this budgetary problem happen? Significant sources of revenue have been on the decline. Notable is a $1,000,000 reduction in state aid and lower amounts collected from real estate taxes which were the result of tax appeals. Due to tax appeals, taxable values have declined $160,287,000 in just the past three years which means $1,426,000 in lost real estate tax revenue. Finally, budget revenue from surplus is no longer available at previous levels. Surplus has decreased for two reasons: surplus was impacted by tax appeal refunds and financial conditions have prevented the regeneration of surplus funds for future use. These losses have necessitated increasing other revenues to fully balance the budget without negatively impacting services.
Please note that tax appeal refunds are paid by the municipal government for municipal, school and county taxes that were previously received.
Most likely your next question is what has the Township been doing about this budget issue? There have been proactive steps implemented to mitigate the impact of these negative fiscal conditions. Over the past five years the municipal work force has been reduced 10 percent, including the police department. Outstanding debt has been refinanced, electric costs have decreased through a public bidding process and phone service has been competitively bid. Capital expenditures and departmental operating budgets have been reduced or frozen where possible. Various user fees have been increased. The Township currently shares over 35 services with other municipalities and private organizations. The Lawrence Township municipal budget has and will continue to be prepared with balancing levels of service against limiting the amount of taxes paid by property owners.
Prior to approving the referendum, the Administration and Council reviewed the budget in order to see if it was possible to cut the $2.25 million needed to balance the budget. However, in order to achieve such savings significant cuts, including the reduction of police officers, would have to be made. Those deep cuts would negatively impact all Township residents. After reviewing the options the referendum question was approved.
What happens now? Township voters will be presented with a referendum question on April 17. You and members of your household will be offered the opportunity to approve or disapprove the Lawrence Township municipal government exceeding the state imposed two percent (2%) limit on the amount to be raised by taxes. Certainly no one wants to raise taxes, but it is important to consider the impact to residents if the referendum does not pass.
A "yes” vote will authorize the Lawrence Township Council to adopt the 2012 budget that was introduced and published that provided for an increase in the tax levy over the allowable property tax levy cap authorized by State law at the rate of increase of $2,275,000.
A "no" vote means that the Lawrence Township Council must amend through appropriation reduction or allowable non-property tax revenue increases in order to adopt the 2012 budget within the tax levy increase set forth by law.
In plain language, the referendum results will dictate how the costs of curbside trash collection will be paid. Both options will keep the same level of curbside trash collection services. Approval will increase the tax rate by a tax deductible .09 to pay for the service. Disapproval will result in implementation of a non-tax deductible user fee estimated to be $336 annually or $28 per month.
I hope this information is helpful and that it will assist you in your consideration of the referendum question on the amount of revenue raised by Lawrence Township. More detailed information may be found on our website at www.lawrencetwp.com or please join the Lawrence Township Council for a discussion forum on Thursday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room in the Lawrence Police Department Headquarters.
Richard Krawczun, Municipal Manager
Solid Waste Collection Estimates
Referendum to Exceed Levy Cap by .09
Effects on Various Assessment levels
Residential Solid Waste User Fee
(Not Tax Deductible)
Annual Cost per Individual Residential Pickup
Monthly Cost per Individual Residential Pickup
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