Sewerage costs to send Kenilworth taxes higher

Photo By Jenny Goldberg
The Kenilworth Borough Council introduces the 2018 municipal budget at its April 11 meeting.

KENILWORTH, NJ — Municipal taxes would increase an average of about $69 according to a budget introduced at the borough council’s April 11 meeting, with most of the increase due to a 28-percent spike in sewerage costs.

The $16.7 million budget, with an accompanying tax levy of $11,548,421, increases taxes by $69.39 for the average home assessed at $180,948 owing to a $201,000 jump in the assessment to Kenilworth by Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority approved in January.

Without the RSVA increase, the property tax hike would have been $24.78, Councilwoman Linda Karlovitch said at the April 11 meeting.
The $11.5 million tax levy represents a 2.6-percent increase, or $289,634.69, from the previous year’s $11,258,786.

The RVSA is an 11-member cooperative of municipalities that owns and operates a 35-acre wastewater treatment plant in Rahway, serving approximately 250,000 residents and 3,500 commercial users.

The RVSA calculates its charges based on a five-year rolling average. Each member municipality of the cooperative is assessed a percentage of the yearly budget based on a formula of three components: total flow, biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids. A number for each town is generated from metering conducted by the RVSA at multiple locations.

From 2016 to 2018, the RVSA assessment for Kenilworth increased by 59 percent or $338,922.
After an investigation into the cooperative’s methodology for calculating the assessment, RVSA Executive Director Jim Meehan and staff engineers are mulling ways to improve the current system.

“There will be a letter coming to residents explaining the recent issues with RVSA,” Kenilworth Mayor Anthony DeLuca said at the April 11 council meeting. “Expect to hear more about this, it’s a significant hit on the town, and we were not prepared for this.”

Despite the increase, Kenilworth Chief Financial Officer Joseph DeIorio told LocalSource that both the tax levy and total municipal appropriations remain under the state-mandated cap increases due to exemptions.

Once debt service is applied to the tax levy, the percentages for both the budget and tax levy remain under the state limited 2-percent cap, Delorio told LocalSource in a recent phone interview.

The final adoption and public hearing of the municipal budget is scheduled for May 9, at 7:30 p.m.