Concord passes budget

Concord Township has its budget set for 2019. It anticipates $4 million in revenue and expenditures with no tax increase.

Taxes remain what they were for this year at 0.981 mils for those with property in fire hydrant areas and 0.848 mils for properties outside a hydrant district. (A mil is a tax of $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value.)

The spending plan passed by a 6-1 vote Tuesday night. Voting no was Councilmember Joshua Twersky who proposed cutting a portion of the township tax burden by 25 percent. However, his fellow council members disagreed, with some speaking out against his proposal.

Twersky said he wanted the general purpose portion to be reduced by 25 percent but Council President Dominic Pileggi said that represented only half of the township’s tax levy, so the proposed cut was actually 12 percent. Pileggi said that would amount to an annual savings of less than $27 for a home assessed at a value of $230,000.

“That’s just a little more than $2 per month, he said.

Council members Libby Salvucci and John Crossan also said they preferred to keep the taxes where they are so more money could be used for open space acquisition.

Using tax revenues to add to open space funds became part of the budget conversation last month when Twersky first mentioned a tax cut. He said at the time, and again during the Dec. 4 meeting that the township has a fund balance of $10 million and that money should go back to the residents in the form of a tax break. When he was told the fund balance could now be used for open space, Twersky said he’s seen no plan for that.

However, Crossan said residents continually tell him they want “less traffic and less development. They want more open space and more trails.” He added that keeping the tax rate as proposed would allow the township to save smaller parcels that may become available in the future.

Multiple residents echoed the desire for saving money for open space with one saying, “Township taxes aren’t drowning me. It’s school taxes that are drowning me…Leave the taxes the way they are.”

Earlier in the evening, council members voted to move some of the general fund balance to other fund areas. Council moved $1 million to the open space fund and another $3.5 million to the capital reserve fund. That $3.5 million, Pileggi said, is earmarked for open space.

Concord Township gives $36,000 to Rachel Kohl Library.

Other business

Council accepted the resignation of Steve Miller from the Planning Commission. Miller has served on the commission for 30 years. He was first appointed in 1987 and he became chairman in 1997. State Rep. Steve Barrar was on hand to present Miller with a state flag and to read proclamations in honor of his 30 years of service.

Hearings are scheduled to resume in January for the Concord Ventures proposed development of 29 townhouses and 166 apartment units on a property adjacent to Route 202 at Watkin Avenue. Those hearings are currently set for 4-6 p.m. on Jan. 8 and 22. Hearings began earlier this year but were suspended in June after it was discovered that a variance granted three years earlier had expired without the applicant asking for an extension.

Council presented a check for $36,000 to Rachel Kohl Library.

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