HARPER

Hamilton Township formally introduced a $25.2 million budget on Monday that would raise the local purpose tax by about three cents.

Despite the increase, declining real estate values will mean the owner of a $177,000 home--the average home value here--will see their municipal taxes reduced by $23 over last year.

Township Administrator Michael Jacobs said the increase in the local purpose tax was needed to replace about $655,000 lost in tax appeals over the past year. The township is spending $300,000 on a reassessment this year, just four years after a $1 million reappraisal that has been continually undercut by declining real estate values.

Overall township spending will be down about $80,000, although township salaries and wages are expected to increase by 4.5 percent. In an email, township committeewoman Amy Gatto said that included two percent raises for most staff. She said the township also anticipated hiring two additional police officers, three part time special Class II police officers, two housing inspectors and a separate part-time employee.

The township plans to hold a hearing and adopt the budget on April 21.

Earlier in the meeting, the township committee made changes to a proposed veteran’s set-aside ordinance, requiring it be re-advertised for next month. The biggest change was Committeewoman Aline Dix wanted at least 50 percent of a qualifying business to employ veterans, up from 25 percent in the proposed ordinance.

Dix’s amendment passed 3-2, over the objection of the sponsor, Committeeman Rodney Guishard, who said the higher percentage would limit the number of qualifying firms.

Other changes postponed introduction of the set aside to 2015 and reduced the targeted amount from five to one percent of township contracting, or to roughly $184,000, Jacobs said.