Reimbursement of $185,081 in property tax appeal judgments headlines the agenda for the January 8, 2013, town council meeting.
The agenda also includes the traditional New Year resolutions setting a temporary 2013 budget, cancelling 2012 unspent budget appropriations and transferring funds among budget accounts. The town had unspent appropriations of $477,008.
The administration also asks council approval for $386,128 in transfers among accounts, including $46,519 from waste management operating expenses (distributed to various other accounts) and $211,096 from public works salaries and wages (to various accounts). Major recipients of the transfers were $210,893 for prescription insurance claims and $15,400 for the jitney bus service. The administration also asks to continue membership in the joint municipal insurance fund and to authorize the annual cash-management plan, which invests and safeguards the town’s funds until needed.
The council is also asked to review a proposed six-month extension of a contract for planning services while the Town Planner is on medical leave. These fees are primarily paid from escrow accounts deposited by applicants for planning and zoning matters. In a related resolution, the administration is asking to use this vendor – Phillips, Preiss, Grygiel, LLC -- to help with a project to develop standards and/or zoning ordinances for stand-by generators for condominium and multi-family communities. This work would be paid by township funds not to exceed $2,500.
The resolution authorizing rebate of property tax payments is the latest in a long series of reductions in the township’s revenue and tax base from appeals to the assessed value of property relative to the market rate, as required by law. The resolution states that the court judgments are for the year 2011, so I’ve asked for clarification on whether these are for 2012. In addition to the $185,000 payout, the judgments reduce the township’s tax base by $5.3 million, meaning it will produce less revenue going forward at a constant tax rate. The judgments included 13 reductions in assessed value of more than $100,000 from among the 114 judgments, including one of $619,400. All the cases appeared to be for residential properties, although they might include a handful of small commercial properties.
The agenda does not include a resolution the administration withdrew from the December 18 agenda that proposed to award a $316,270 contract, apparently without competition, to Birdsall Services Group. The company is under state investigation for trying to evade laws on political contributions for vendors that get public contracts http://bit.ly/TXtEkn.
The council meeting is also likely to include discussion of the recent response by Prism Capital Partners, the designated downtown redeveloper, to a demand letter from the town requesting information to help judge its financial ability to proceed with construction for the Edison Battery Factory site. Council members received the filing, estimated at 600 pages, late Friday.