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Upper Foresees Small Hike in Taxes, Mainly to Pay Debts

Upper Foresees Small Hike in Taxes, Mainly to Pay Debts

By Christopher South

Upper Township Business Administrator Gary DeMarzo presented the township committee with a budget that contains a 1.4-cent tax rate increase, which he said would amount to an increase of $3.50 per month on a $300,000 house.
Christopher South
Upper Township Business Administrator Gary DeMarzo presented the township committee with a budget that contains a 1.4-cent tax rate increase, which he said would amount to an increase of $3.50 per month on a $300,000 house.

PETERSBURG – Upper Township will be looking at a tentative lower tax rate increase than last year’s, but no tax rate increase is not likely.

According to a presentation in a budget workshop on Monday, Feb. 12, the township will add just under $300,000 to its local purpose tax collection, chiefly to cover debt service.

Chief Financial Officer Barbara Ludy said the plan is to keep debt service level and spread costs out. Business Administrator Gary DeMarzo said that in the past there were some issues with how debt service was handled, and the township is still trying to level out the debt.

“It’s just like a household – you pay as you go, and you are doing a balancing act,” DeMarzo said.

The budget will be about $17 million. The township will need to raise $5,615,977 in 2024 to cover its expenses. The local tax rate will increase by 1.4 cents per $100 of assessed value to cover the $300,000, going unofficially from a tax rate of .2799 cents to .2939 cents. DeMarzo said 1 cent in the Upper Township tax rate is equal to $190,000.

The increase would mean that the average homeowner, whose home is assessed at $300,000, would pay another $42 per year, or $3.50 per month, in taxes to fund township operations.

DeMarzo said the township collects $41 million in taxes but only keeps about $5 million for local purposes. About 71% of what the township collects is school taxes; 16% goes to the county, and 13% is kept in the township.

“For every $1,000 collected in taxes, only $120 stays in the township,” he said.

The Upper Township Committee looks at slides during a budget workshop Monday, Feb. 12, in the Upper Township Hall meeting room. Photo Credit: Christopher South

DeMarzo called the 2024 municipal budget a “cleanup” budget, saying some of the items would not be recurring, including paid-down debt service.

Mayor Jay Newman said he has enjoyed working on this budget more than in previous years. He said it was a pleasure to sit down with the auditor, CFO and business administrator and go over what he considered a very stable budget.

“I know people want to have a zero (increase) budget, but zero doesn’t work – it will catch up,” Newman said.

Committeeman Curtis Corson echoed Newman’s remarks, saying the Township Committee could get to a zero increase, but that next year it would face a larger increase.

Resident Barbara Leary asked the committee if there were any cuts or reductions in the budget. Corson said the costs for legal services were down from last year, and the cost for the tax assessor’s office also was lower.

He said the township is attempting to make do with fewer employees as some retire and is cross-training new hires. DeMarzo told the committee about 70% of the municipal operating budget is for employee pay and benefits.

Corson said the budget would be introduced at the next regular committee meeting, scheduled for Monday, Feb. 26, at 4:40 p.m.

Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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