Council Ups Budget to Aid Sparta Civic Groups
$24 million spending plan to receive final vote April 9.
The Sparta Township Council tweaked the proposed 2013 municipal budget to add additional funds to support local civic groups.
The change, which will be discussed in detail at a 7 p.m. March 19 special budget workshop, raised the overall budget by an additional .05-percent, said Mayor Gilbert Gibbs.
He said that in recent years the township had held flat or reduced its support of local groups. This year, Gibb said, the council wanted to see if it could increase that financial support.
The preliminary budget called for a 1.77-percent increase, which was set at 1.82 percent in the budget formally introduced Tuesday. The new figure is still below the state mandated 2-percent tax levy cap.
The issue of funding civic groups was raised by the Sparta Historical Society which asked for an additional $5,000 to help with renovations of the Van Kirk House.
The historical society purchased the 1790s-era home and three acres on Route 517 from the Sparta school district last year. The site has been used in the past for Civil War re-enactments. It plans to convert the home to a museum.
On Tuesday Bernice Verwys of the Sparta Cultural Affairs Committee also asked the council for additional funds to support its concert and theater presentations.
Gibbs said the request would be considered at the budget workshop.
The proposed budget sets township spending at $24 million. A public hearing and a vote to adopt the budget will be held April 9.
An owner of a home assessed at the township average of $295,600 would see a $39.54 increase in their 2013 tax bill.
The estimated 2013 municipal tax bill would be $2,027.
In 2012, the increase was $80. The 2012 municipal tax rate was 66.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, and the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $301,368 paid $1,988 in municipal property taxes.
The 2012 municipal budget called for $23.53 million in spending, with a local tax levy of $15.6 million.
The tax levy for the proposed 2013 budget is $17.02 million, and state aid is expected to be flat, $1.2 million.
Finance director Grant (Sam) Rome said the budget calls for a $1 million surplus. He said ideally the township should have enough cash in reserve to pay one month’s bills, including making the monthly payments to Sussex County and the quarterly payments to the Sparta schools, for which the township collects the property taxes. Rome said that amount is $4 to $5 million a month.