A budget that will see an average annual property tax increase of $29 was adopted by the Knowlton Township Committee April 10th.
The $1.58 million budget is within the state-mandated spending cap, said township auditor John Mooney said.
“We have a pretty good budget tonight,” Mooney said during the presentation. “There’s nothing that we really have to cut to be compliant.”
Mooney did offer one caveat, however, point to the volatility of the economy.
“There’s a lot of turmoil right now. I’m sure a lot of people watching the news of what’s happening with the banking industries and the amount of layoffs that are happening with Microsoft, JP Morgan,” Mooney said. “We’re concerned about residents not being able to pay their taxes and then we’re going to have less income coming in.”
Health insurance costs were on of the biggest hits with the 2023 budget, increasing more than 50 percent. The township’s share of the cost rose from $110,000 in 2022 to $175,500 this year. Employees’ share rose from $10,000 to $26,000.
Mooney explained that the employee share, which is set by the state of New Jersey, is a sliding scale with higher-paid employees paying a larger share of the costs.
“You could have two employees having the same exact policy, but an employee with a higher salary is going to pay substantially more than an employee with lower salary,” he said.
Mooney said the current health benefits policy is through the state of New Jersey and while alternatives have been explored, the small number of employees in Knowlton makes the cost disproportionately higher.
“If you were in a larger district, a larger school board, here you have hundreds of employees, it might be beneficial,” Mooney said. “But the municipality, after doing substantial research, it wasn’t beneficial, was not the risk of what you need. My understanding is once you leave the state of Jersey health benefits, there’s no going back.”
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.
Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.
Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.
Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.