BOROUGH TRIMS A PENNY FROM LOCAL RATE

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s property tax won’t rise as much as expected this year.

Councilman Mike DuPont, chair of the council’s finance committee, says a penny has been trimmed from the increase anticipated as recently as two weeks ago.

That means the owner of a residential property assessed at the borough-average $401,000 will pay 1.4 cents more per $100 of value than last year, or a full-year increase of $56.50, DuPont said following the formal introduction of the $20.8 million spending plan Wednesday night.

The budget, which calls for raising $12 million from borough property owners, is $209,000 lighter than expected last month, said Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lapp. The biggest individual component of the drop came on an audit of payments for health insurance, which yielded $32,000 after some borough employees were found to have been billed for the wrong plans and other clerical errors.

A line item for arborist’s services was reduced from $27,000 to $5,000 after more funding became available under a shared services agreement with neighboring towns, she said. Red Bank will now hire an arborist on an as-needed hourly basis, DuPont said.

A public hearing and final vote on the budget are scheduled for May 23.

Meantime, DuPont said borough officials are still receiving and reviewing private-sector proposals to take over the town’s health insurance plan. A 22-percent increase in costs handed down earlier this year by the multi-town Health Insurance Fund, which Red Bank helped found, has officials considering a departure from the plan, DuPont said.