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Letter to the Editor: Township Manager Explains 'Need' for Tax Referendum's Approval

This letter, written by Lawrence Township Manager Richard Krawczun, was mailed to all Lawrence Township residents this week.

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.

Respectfully,

Richard Krawczun, Municipal Manager

 

Solid Waste Collection Estimates

Referendum to Exceed Levy Cap by .09

(Tax Deductible)

Effects on Various Assessment levels

Assessment

Annual Cost

Monthly Cost

150,000.00

135.00

11.25

161,292.08 (average)

145.16

12.10

200,000.00

180.00

15.00

250,000.00

225.00

18.75

300,000.00

270.00

22.50

 

Residential Solid Waste User Fee

(Not Tax Deductible)

Annual Cost per Individual Residential Pickup

336.00

Monthly Cost per Individual Residential Pickup

28.00

 

See Also:

  • April 10: ""
  • April 2: ""
  • March 28: “”
  • March 26: “”
  • March 26: “
  • March 20: “”
  • March 14: “”
  • March 8: “”
  • Feb. 23: “”
  • Feb. 9: “”
  • Jan. 18: “”
Patrick April 13, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Max, not sure at this point since the vote is already in action, I received my sample ballot yesterday, if I want to pay more just to make a point. Thing is my home is assessed less then 200k, so a no vote will mean I pay more for trash. And remember assessment and retail home value are very different. A no vote will actually hurt the people who need to keep their money the most. If you want to be heard or make a point, November is the time for that,
Chief Wahoo April 13, 2012 at 02:55 PM
you are sadly mistaken......and very selfish as well
Patrick April 13, 2012 at 02:59 PM
This isn't Brick. and if its selfish to want to pay less out of pocket, then so be it. I'd rather spend that money on maintaining MY home, then a mandated trash bill.
Stinki Garbaage April 17, 2012 at 10:47 AM
http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2012/04/two_boroughs_brace_for_upcomin.html Check out what Hopewell and Pennington pay in municipal taxes. We pay more than both of those municipalities combined! Pennington hasn't had a tax increase since 2008! Now THAT's proactive management
Stinki Garbaage April 19, 2012 at 10:29 AM
The fight is still not over. After a 2 to 1 vote and 100% unanimous anger from the residents last night, the council is STILL debating whether to move forward with the extortion. Mayor Kownacki said last night after all the residents gave them a piece of their mind that he hears us, but he still thinks the user fee is the best option. That's who's leading you. That's your mayor! Call Mayor Kownacki today and ask him what he's waiting for. Tell him to take the garbage nonsense off the table today! 844-7000 Ask for Mayor Kownacki. Tell him to take this off the table today. The vote was 2 to 1. Yesterday at council was 100% unanimous from the resdients. Don't take my garbage away. My Kownacki, what are you waiting for? ThisGarbageStinks.com - Tell your friends to flood the township until this nonsense is over. We're 75% of the way there. ThisGarbageStinks.com - until it's off the table. Keep fighting!

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