New Budget Calls for 1.8 Percent Increase Over 2017 Budget

Jefferson residents can expect to pay $10,359,000 in municipal salaries this year for 95 employees, according to a 2018 township budget totaling $27,504,537. The budget was passed unanimously by the township council at its meeting last night, May 2.

The salary allocation represents an increase of $141,969 compared with 2017, which averages out to a 1.39 percent hike. This is below the 3 percent average for salary increases projected nationally, according to research by The Jefferson Chronicle.

Although some residents raised concerns about salaries at previous council meetings, the new budget was passed with only five residents in attendance. The 2018 budget does keep raises below the national average forecast by economists, which includes a range of large corporations to small businesses as well as governments. Therefore, the increase may not be comparable to neighboring municipalities.

The 2018 township budget of $27,504,537 represents an overall increase of 1.8 percent over the 2017 budget. Total taxes to be raised to supplement the budget are $20,594,929, up $232,692 from last year.

Factoring out the $230,000 intentionally added to the capital improvement fund plus the debt service category to pay off notes, the increase is 1.3 percent over last year’s budget, officials noted. They added this means the tax levy is down 2.3 percent.

$35 Tax Increase Per Household

In dollars and cents, residents can expect their local taxes to increase annually by about $35 per household, according to Bill Eagan, chief financial officer for the township. He added there was no material change to the original budget introduced on April 2.

In spite of local buzz complaining about high taxes and salaries in the township, former Democratic mayor Horace Chamberlain was the only member of the public to speak regarding the budget. He questioned salary raises for supervisors and department heads.

Council president Debi Merz responded, “We are in the middle of salary negotiations, so there is no set percentage yet.” The council confirmed for Chamberlain that although there is a salary increase included in the budget, none of it is allocated due to the pending negotiations.

The budget also includes funding for four capital projects and two projects requiring bond issuance. The ordinances for all projects will be open to public comment at the next council meeting, May 16 at 7:00 p.m., in the municipal building. The proposals include paving plans, the Liffy Island boardwalk, the expansion of police headquarters, and a new tennis court for Prospect Point.

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The garbage collection budget took a big hit this year, adding a whopping $250,000 due to the current contract. The good news is that residents will be spared from shouldering most of this burden due to clean community and recycling grants. These grants offset the impact to $54,600, a 2.49 percent rise over last year.

The Jefferson Township Council meets to discuss the 2018 budget on Wednesday, May 2, 2018. (Photo: April Leaver)

A more in-depth report about the May 2 budget meeting will follow in an upcoming Chronicle post.

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