Buena Vista Township's municipal budget was unveiled Monday night, and while the tax rate is dropping significantly, the amount each homeowner will pay in taxes may increase.

The $4.427 million budget is a slight decrease from last year's spending plan. Because of a recent property revaluation, the municipal tax rate is expected to fall from 77 cents per $100 of assessed property value to less than half that amount, 35.2 cents.

The local tax levy will raise more than $2.3 million. Although it's different depending on the new assessed value of a home, Mayor Chuck Chiarello said the average resident with a home assessed at $100,000 will pay about $25 more on their 2010 tax bill.

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Chiarello said the township had about $281 million in taxable properties during its last budget process. Because of the recent evaluation, the assessed value of properties has jumped to about $660 million.

Although the tax rate has fallen so steeply, the percentage of the budget each resident is paying for this year compared with last year depends on the reassessment.

In some instances, Chiarello said, residents may find themselves paying the same amount; in other cases, residents won't be so lucky. In the Collings Lake section of the township - an example offered by Chiarello - assessed home values have in some cases more than tripled.

The proposed budget is slightly lower than last year's, said Chiarello, who attributed most of the decrease to lost or expired grants used for various projects.

Costs, however, have increased. Health care for township employees has gone up 17 percent since last year and fuel, electricity and payroll costs have risen this year, too, Chiarello said.

In all, Chiarello said, about $250,000 was trimmed from the budget. That figure does not include the $180,000 in state aid the township could lose as part of Gov. Chris Christie's proposed budget.

In anticipation of a budget crisis, the township laid off two public works employees at the end of December. The total savings, which includes the cost of salary and benefits, is just more than $100,000.

The public hearing for the proposed budget is May 10, but Chiarello said it's unlikely that the spending plan will be adopted soon thereafter. The township routinely waits until all state budget issues are resolved before approving its own as a way to accommodate for any financial changes that may result.

The township did not approve last year's budget until September.

Contact Edward Van Embden:


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