November 1, 2016
CFR has gathered updated data on the town’s finances for your benefit. We realize this is complex and did our best to simplify the important items that affect our property tax bills.
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 an expensive new rescue squad vehicle. Readington’s debt has dropped in five out of the last six years. (See the various debt reports on http://www.readingtontwp.org/finance_main.html.) Kudos to the Township Committee.
Debt owed by the Readington School District increased temporarily this year as it repaired steps and repaved driveways and parking lots. This temporary debt will be paid off in 2017 from money already set aside and thus will not affect tax rates. The long-term trend in debt for Readington’s schools is downward.
Property taxes for the current tax year are distributed as follows: 39.7% for Readington’s schools, 25% for the regional high school, 18.9% for the municipal government, 14.4% for Hunterdon county, and 2% for open space, according to the information printed on the tax bills.
Over the last four years total property taxes have increased by 5% or just over 1% per year; over the last 10 years property taxes have increased by 8.7%, or less than 1% per year.
Every election year the budget and taxes for the municipal government become an issue.
CFR investigated and our findings are that the total budget has been managed well. The difficult part is how that budget gets put into the tax rate and the tax bill. Here are reasons why a comparison between carefully selected years could produce a misleading result.
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 lower assessments on a few Merck buildings, partially offset by the addition of new homes in the Regency at Readington subdivision. This subdivision is senior housing and thus does not add children to the school system.
The presentation of the township budget for 2016 can be found at:
The taxpayer portion of the school budget for school year 2016-17 is up by one percent, (+1.0%). http://www.readington.k12.nj.us/cms/lib011/NJ01000244/Centricity/Domain/12/User%20Friendly%20Budget%201.pdf