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Budget for '02 may include tax increase

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2001

Elizabeth Township residents are facing the third hit to their wallets this year.

On Monday, commissioners are expected to vote on a 2002 budget of almost $3.9 million that would raise the property tax from 3.615 mills to 4.429.

If that increase is enacted, the owner of a house assessed at $100,000 would pay about $80 more to the township.

Commission President Joanne Beckowitz called the budget "no-frills" and said the increase is needed to cover contracts with township employees, higher insurance premiums and the ½-mill fire tax the board enacted in April.

Furthermore, she said, "we had to close the gap" after many residents won their county property reassessment appeals, which has cost the township about $18,000 in income this year.

The township also has new expenses, notably $50,000 for police radios and $2,500 for emergency management.

After more than a year of negotiations, commissioners enacted the fire tax to help the municipality's seven volunteer departments. The tax replaced the $2,000 a year the township had given each company for a number of years and is expected to generate about $200,000 a year.

The owner of a home with a market value of $50,000 will be paying $25 toward funding the fire companies, each of which still will get up to $625 a year in fuel that can be pumped at the township building.

Each department will get an initial payment of $5,000 as soon as it gives the seven-member Elizabeth Township Fire Service Committee, which is overseeing disbursement of the tax, budgetary information and plans for how it will use the money.

Committee members Peter Hough and Richard Maha doubted any department would balk at producing financial records or receipts to show how they have spent the first $5,000, as the committee has requested each do by Dec. 31.

Hough is chief of Elizabeth Township Fire Department No. 1. Maha is a township commissioner.

Earlier this year, residents also were hit with a 4.2-mill tax increase by the Elizabeth Foward School District.

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