VERNON TOWNSHIP — Vernon residents will not see the average annual township real estate tax bill of around $56 increase in 2010, according to officials, but across-the-board cuts could be needed to cover an anticipated $190,000-plus shortfall in the township’s municipal budget.
The first draft of a 2010 budget — presented to the township Board of Supervisors this week — shows $1.4 million in expected revenues, but $1,590,481 in anticipated expenses, making for a projected deficit totaling $190,481.
Township Manager Dave Stone said the shortfall is specifically due to an anticipated decrease in the amount of revenue from the township Local Services Tax, which by state law now exempts workers who earn less than $12,500 annually. The $52 annual workers’ tax was previously established as the Emergency and Municipal Services Tax and had yielded about $450,000 in annual revenues, but under the current exemption provisions the township is expecting to take in only about $270,000 from that tax this year, according to Stone.
To balance the 2010 budget, Stone said, it’s likely there will have to be various forms of spending cuts in virtually every township department, as well as cuts on routine spending for personnel training, municipal conferences and similar activities. Officials have set their next budget work session for Nov. 24, and are expected to then begin nailing down what specific cuts may be needed to balance the budget.
Another option officials are considering for balancing next year’s budget and creating additional revenue in general is a sale of the township’s water authority to a private firm. “It would lower the (water) costs for our homeowners and our businesses,” said township Supervisor Tim Mullen, and “set us straight for some time in the future without a tax increase” or cuts in services.
Stone said two companies have expressed interest in discussing a possible deal to buy and privatize the township’s water service, and officials are continuing to research the possibility.
Another option, Stone said, could be tapping into some of the township’s capital reserves, which currently stand at around $900,000.
However it’s brought into balance, officials said they won’t increase the township’s long-standing 2-mill real estate tax rate, which leaves the owner of a home with the median assessed value in the township of $28,000 with an annual bill of $56. Township residents haven’t seen an increase in that tax rate for about 20 years, officials said.
Last year, Vernon approved a $1.34 million general fund budget for 2008 that kept the township’s real estate tax millage at 2 mills, leaving the owner of a home with the median assessed value in the township of $28,000 with a bill of $56.
Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org