City Council to approve 2017 municipal budget

City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and final approval of the 2017 municipal budget during its combined conference and regular meeting tonight, starting at 7 p.m. The $54-million spending plan, which projects an average municipal tax increase of $81, was introduced at the April 24 regular meeting.

The budget in its entirety is available here through an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the city clerk’s office.

The average home in Rahway, assessed at $133,000, paid about $3,350 in municipal taxes last year based on a tax rate of $2.519 per $100 of assessed value. The estimated tax rate in the 2017 budget would be $2.580, projecting for average municipal taxes of $3,431 — an increase of $81. For a property assessed at $266,000, the municipal tax increase would be about $162. This does not include the school or county portions of property tax bills.

JUNE 12 UPDATE: With no comment from the public or its members, City Council approved the 2017 budget by a unanimous 8-0 vote (only 6th Ward Councilman Bob Bresenhan had an excused absence).

About $66 of the projected average increase of $81 is a result of the budget impact while an estimated $15 is due to the acquisition and demolition of about 20 flood-prone properties around the city. The 20 properties had a total assessment of about $2.556 million, generating property taxes of almost $162,000.

PILOTs from eight developments, both recent and not-so-recent, will total about $1.313 million in this year’s budget, down from $2.293 million in 2016. The city’s foreclosure registry is expected to yield $425,000 in revenue and the hotel fees about about $150,000.

Total surplus anticipated to be used in the 2017 budget is $2.2 million, slightly less than the $2.3 million realized in the 2016 budget. The anticipated water utility operating surplus is $1.3 million for 2017, up considerably from the $334,739 anticipated and realized in 2016.

Host community fees from the Union County Utilities Authority (UCUA) are anticipated at $2.35 million in 2017 and excess tonnage fees are anticipated at $350,000. Those two categories were $2.65 million and $109,810 in 2016, respectively.

Total spending is up about 1.66 percent, from $53.3 million to $54.182 million. Revenues are up less than 1 percent, from $16.59 million to $16.741 million. The total tax levy — the amount to be raised through property taxes — is up less than 2 percent, from $36.709 million to $37.441 million, making up about 69 percent of the revenue side of the budget.

Total salaries and wages were up about 1.99 percent, from $21.739 million to $22.172 million. Total debt service was essentially flat, $6.235 million last year compared to a proposed $6.248 million this year. Other expenses within departments actually will see a decline of 1.27 percent, from $16.298 million last year to $16.091 million in 2017.