Vernon adopts $19 million township budget

Vernon. The budget increased by less than one percent and puts millions into the Reserve for Uncollected Taxes.

Vernon /
| 14 May 2021 | 12:20

The Vernon Township Council on April 26 unanimously adopted its 2021 budget, which calls for a total budget increase of 0.67 percent and a total tax levy of about $19 million.

According to township’s chief financial officer, Donelle Bright, the budget allots about $18 million for municipal operations, accounting for 57 percent of the budget; $4.6 million in debt service and cap appropriations; and $3.1 million for the Reserve for Uncollected Taxes (RUT), which accounts for 11 percent of the budget.

The budget also includes $2 million for the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority, which will be paid for by the Vernon Township MUA.

The township has a local assessed value of about $2.5 million. The average township home is valued at about $206,000 and will see an $88 annual increase.

This year’s budget also used less fund balance, compared to the 2020 budget. Last year, Bright said, the township used $1 million in total fund balance, while this year the township used $625,000 in fund balance. Overall, the township’s fund balance grew to $3.8 million, about 13.8 percent of the budget. The recommended total fund balance is 16 to 20 percent.

Vernon had a tax collection rate of 96.01 percent in 2020 so needed to make up for more than $2.4 million owed to Sussex County and the Vernon Township School District.

“We’re required to pay the school and county and bring them to 100 percent, and that’s why we have the RUT,” Bright said. “It’s the amount required to account for taxpayers who do not pay taxes on time.”