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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Flat Tax Rate Proposed for Blairstown in 2023 Budget

The Blairstown Township Committee introduced the 2023 tax budget in a meeting on March 22, announcing as promised after last year’s 15-cent municipal tax hike, that local tax rates will not increase in 2023.

This year, the average Blairstown resident with a property value of $275,000 will pay $687 to the township.

Committeewoman Karen Lance summarized what those tax dollars might go toward: properly maintained roads, public parks, a flourishing recreation department or emergency services.

“What keeps a value of a home and a town, is a town that has services, and that provides them in an efficient way,” Lance said. “I think $687 in a whole year is not a lot of money.”

In 2023, the total general revenues for Blairstown are $5,911,125.89. This number consists of state aid and any other township programs that pull the municipality out of the red, such as interest on investments and state aid.

The General Capital Fund balance contributes to revenues as well. This year, the committee estimates the total appropriations for municipal purposes to cost $3,510,709. This number can be split into two categories: operations and deferred charges.

In 2023, $1,821,321 will pay the salaries of municipal employees. Fifty-nine percent of all salary and wage payments go the Blairstown Police Department, up 5% from last year. These are operation costs.

An estimated appropriations cost of $524,040 will go toward deferred charges and statutory expenditures such as retirement systems and pensions. Both operations and deferred charges are classified as “within CAPS”— the fixed limit of $3,510,709 that cannot be exceeded.

“There are budget items, however, excluded from “CAPS” that have some financial wiggle room,” said Lance.

Before introducing the budget, the committee voted to exceed the municipal budget appropriation limit and establish a cap bank of 3.5%. This means, if necessary, the township could increase its budget by 3.5% for extra appropriations, but if the entirety of that money is not used it will be “banked” for the following year.

“Does that mean that taxes are going up by 3.5%? No, it does not,” Lance explained. “It means our ability to spend from our savings side to our checking side.”

Excluded from CAPS are items such as health insurance and capital improvement funds. One of the main reasons for the increase in municipal taxes in 2022 was to build up revenue for capital projects.

In 2023, $861,690 has been earmarked for capital improvements. Funds will go toward road improvements, road equipment, first aid equipment, fire department equipment and police equipment.

Finally, the township will need to budget for debt payments. This year’s payment of bond principal and interest on those bonds will cost more than $650,000.

The Blairstown Township Committee will hold a public meeting on April 19 so Blairstown residents can ask questions and raise concerns on the 2023 budget.

To read the budget in its entirety click 2023 Introduced Budget.pdf (revize.com)

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Alex Tironi, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

A recent graduate of George Mason University in Virginia, Alex pursued a degree in journalism with a double minor in American Sign Language and nonprofit studies. She worked as assistant news editor to the Fourth Estate, the university newspaper where she reported on many things but mostly focused on campus crime and PD activity. While working for a nonprofit called the Borgen Project, she wrote about global health and poverty in third-world nations. Alex recently finished an internship writing and editing for a business consulting company in NY. Growing up in the area, she has always been active in her community and brings the same intention as a contributing writer for the Ridge View Echo.