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$90 Tax Increase in East Hanover Under 2013 Budget

The tax increase for the average house in East Hanover will be $7.50 a month, with emergency operations a big expenditure.

The East Hanover Township Council heard the introduction of a 2013 budget with a tax levy increase of about $90 per household Monday.

East Hanover will raise about $640,000 in the local tax levy this year at a tax rate of 0.586, which is 2.5 tax points over the 2012 tax rate of 0.561.

According to Administrator Joe Tempesta, the increase amounts to about $90 for the year on the average home assessed at $362,000, or $7.50 a month.

Revenues and Appropriations

Several department budgets remained relatively flat, though Tempesta said revenues were affected by factors beyond the township's control, including weather disasters such as superstorm Sandy.

The Novartis project is finishing, which brought down revenues from permit fees, and "to be prudent, we also budgeted a quarter-million dollars for commercial tax appeals that we anticipate coming in later this year," Tempesta said.

As far as expenses, Tempesta said the township has made cuts or entered into joint service agreements with other towns.

"We've rung over $1 million in costs out in the last four years," Tempesta said. "The problem is that the revenues don't always come in fast enough, which isn't surprising in an economy like this."

Emergency Management

Spending by departments has remained fairly stable compared to last year, with few exceptions. Mark Curcio, the township's emergency management coordinator, said after "a very busy 2012," he was "putting more away for shelter operations."

The shelter opened after Sandy was the longest shelter operation in township history. It remained open for 15 days. "We were able to give shelter, give food to employees and volunteers and residents, and keep the government running," Curcio said.

Curcio said his office spent about $551,000 during Sandy. He said his office has applied for reimbursement from FEMA, but he only expects about 75 percent of the funds to be returned.

"FEMA also returns the money 12 to 15 months after the event," Tempesta said. "We may not get it back in the 2013 calendar year."

As currently drafted, Curcio said he has everything he needs in 2013 accounted for in this budget. "The only thing we can't control is the weather," he said.

Banked Cap

The council also approved an ordinance on first reading establishing a cap bank.

The tax levy for 2013 came in almost $1.7 million under the maximum allowable tax levy increase.

Under state law, the township can put those funds into a cap bank and use them to raise taxes in a future year without a public vote, even if it would exceed the two percent tax cap.

The funds must be used within three years or they will expire.

Public Hearing

The council unanimously approved a resolution examining the 2013 budget as part of the consent agenda.

A public hearing and approval of the 2013 budget will take place at the May 6 council meeting.

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