Township Budget Updates
OVERVIEW: BERKELEY HEIGHTS TOWNSHIP BUDGET PROCESS
How does the Annual Budget process work? When does it take place? Can the public get involved?
The Township of Berkeley Heights is funded by annual Operating and Capital budgets, which must be approved by the Township Council. These proposed budgets are prepared by the Township Administrator and CFO who meet with each Township department to review departmental needs and requests for the next fiscal year as well discussions with the Governing Body (Town Council & the Mayor), consulting the Master Plan to ensure that Capital investments are aligned with the Township plan.
The Operating Budget includes personnel costs, annual facility operating costs and debt service. It is funded primarily through local property and sales taxes, licenses (such as building and department fees), charges for services and other similar sources of revenue.
The Capital Budget funds major improvements to the Township and its infrastructure (such as paving roads and major building projects); resources that have an expected lifetime that extends beyond the acquisition year. It is supported using multiple funding sources including different types of bonds (debt), grants, cash as well as other sources of funding.
Once the Operating and Capital budgets are drafted, the Governing Body holds public Budget Hearings to discuss and review the budgets. Each Budget Hearing includes a Citizens Hearing where the public can comment and ask questions. Each department head or their representative appears at the Budget Hearings to formally present their requests. The Governing Body may make changes to the budget as needed.
It is important for residents to understand that a significant portion of your tax dollars are allocated to areas that are beyond the control of the Council. The following chart illustrates how tax dollars are currently allocated:
Approximately 56% of our annual tax revenues go towards funding our schools and each year the independently elected Board of Education is responsible for overseeing a separate budget process for the school district. Similarly, 25% of your tax dollars are allocated to funding services provided by Union County and approximately 1% goes towards funding our local library.
That leaves 18%, or 18 cents on every tax dollar, to pay for all local services such as police, roads (excluding county roads), recreation, maintenance of parks and fields, waste water management, bulk pick up, required insurances, debt service on capital projects and general and administrative expenses required to run the town (eg, salaries, benefits, legal, audit, etc.). It should be noted that salaries and benefits alone comprise the vast majority of our annual controlled expenses.