County aid helps reduce expected So. River tax hike

Staff Writer

By takesha pettus

SOUTH RIVER— Borough residents may not get hit with the proposed 15-cent municipal tax rate increase after all.

With amendments recently made to the proposed $9.47 million 2000 municipal budget, the Borough Council is now saying that the tax rate increase will be 6 cents.

According to council President and Finance Chairman David Sliker, the proposed budget amendments are partly due to the $400,000 in aid the borough recently received from Middlesex County.

As a result, several borough departments were able to receive additional funding, Sliker said.

The fire department will receive a $36,000 increase, bringing its budget up to $76,000. The library will also receive an additional $28,000, bringing its budget up to $251,124. In addition, the rescue squad will also receive $25,000 for the first time.

In past years, the borough has given the rescue squad $10,000 in funding in the form of a donation.

The amendments would reduce the proposed tax rate of 15 cents to a new proposed tax rate increase of 6 cents.

Borough residents were expecting to pay an additional $1.14 per $100 of assessed value, or $118.50 more, for a homeowner with an average home assessed in the borough at $79,000.

But with a 6-cent tax rate increase residents can expect to pay about $1.05 per $100 of assessed value, or an additional $47, for a homeowner with a home assessed at $79,000.

The originally anticipated 15-cent tax hike was a result of last year’s hot summer.

The heat wave of 1999 caused electric rates to skyrocket throughout the summer months, increasing from $210,000 in May to $437,818 in June and as much as $1,288,079 in July.

As a result, the borough was forced to pass emergency appropriations totaling $1.3 million in order to pay for overdue bills and electric bills for the remainder of the year.

Homeowners still face an 18-cent electric rate tax hike.

That hike, which will be retroactive from March 1, will be limited to 12 months and will be based on the consumer’s electric use, Sliker said.

The average electric bill in the borough is $60 per month.

The borough has scheduled a special meeting for July 5 at 7 p.m. in the War Memorial Building, Main Street, for a public hearing on the amendments to the proposed budget.

The council is also expecting to adopt the budget that evening.