May 1, 2016
CFR has gathered updated data on the town's finances to share with residents. Some facts are not yet available, but we will keep you informed as we learn more.
According to Township debt reports, the debt owed by Readington Township dropped slightly in 2015. The debt at the end of 2015 was $56.55 million, down 1.15% from $57.21 million at the end of 2014. This drop occurred despite additional borrowing to finance the purchase of a costly new rescue squad vehicle. Readington's debt has dropped for five out of the last six years.
Debt owed by the Readington School District will temporarily show a strategic increase this year as the district takes advantage of a State bond program that provided funds to undertake repair projects (See CFR article for description of the January 2016 referendum). This temporary debt will not impact taxpayers. After this debt is paid off in 2017, the District should resume its long-term trend of lowering debt.
Each year, Hunterdon County publishes the ratio of the assessed value of property to its true value. The county does this for each township. The true value is based on the selling prices of those properties that actually sold. With a few calculations and the assumption that the assessed value in the ratio is the same as last year (99+% true), we can derive that true property values increased by 3.9% last year.
The assessed value of a home is what the township uses to determine the property taxes on that home. Assessed values are usually fixed for a number of years and thus do not reflect the changes in the selling value (true value) of the property. Assessed values do change when the property owner adds a shed, a swimming pool, or an addition to the home. The bottom line for Readington is that most homes kept the same assessed value in 2015.
Total Township Assessed Value
The total township assessed value is the sum of all the township's homes, businesses, farms, etc. The total value is important in determining the tax rate.
As of December 31, 2015, the overall township assessment is down very slightly, by one-half of one percent (-0.5%). (Data from the assessor's office)
The overall decline is mostly due to the lowering of assessments on a few key Merck buildings. Partially offsetting this decline are the new homes in the Regency at Readington subdivision. This subdivision is senior housing and thus does not add children to the school system.
The proposed township budget for 2016 of $18.7 million is down very slightly, by seven tenths of one percent, (-0.7 %).
According to the Superintendent's April report, the taxpayer portion of the school budget for school year 2016-17 is up by one percent, (+1.0%).
Readington municipal and school budgets are essentially experiencing no change, for which the Township Committee and Board of Education should be applauded.
Information for property taxes for the new tax year that begins in July is not yet available. There are some complicated rules on how the budgets translate into the tax rates. In addition, the county, the regional high school, and a few other entities contribute significantly to our tax bill expense. More on this in the future.