Vernon’s budget increase has been lowered to 0.68 percent since the council’s last budget meeting, Mayor Howard Burrell announced on March 8.
The council also introduced an ordinance that will increase the township’s cap bank to 3.5 percent. Any amount not appropriated in the budget will be retained for the next two years.
Burrell said the average home in Vernon, assessed at about $216,000, would see an increase of $7 per month.
“I wish that was the whole of the taxes our residents would have to pay,” Burrell said.
Under state law, the township is designated as the receiver of taxes. That means the township will pay the complete sum owed to Sussex County and the Vernon Township School District.
Before the budget discussion began, several residents said they believed the budget was being increased by 3.5 percent, judging by the proposed cap ordinance.
Donelle Bright, the township’s chief financial officer, said the cap bank is a standard ordinance passed every year. It gives the township access to funds from taxes it didn’t assess for the previous two years.
“The reason we establish the cap bank is for emergency situations,” she said. “We can use the appropriations for other things in the future. It’s for appropriations and not for tax increases, or the amount raised by taxes.”
She stressed that the budget increase was less than 1 percent.
“It’s not the 3.5 percent you see in the cap bank,” she said.
Burrell said the township used less of the fund balance when implementing the current form of the budget. Last year, he said, the township used about $1 million of fund balance, and this year the township used $600,000.
“What we can control from the town side, we’re at 0.68 percent, and we’re moving in the right direction,” said Councilman Andrew Pitsker.