Linden sees municipal tax decrease for third consecutive year

LINDEN, NJ — Good news for the city of Linden and its residents: For the third consecutive year, the municipal portion of taxes will decrease. The City Council introduced the 2020 municipal budget on March 17 and introduced a budget amendment on April 21; the budget was passed on final vote on May 19. This year’s township budget comes in at $110,451,334.69.

Mayor Derek Armstead and his administration have reduced the municipal portion of taxes, for the last three years; in those three years, he also eliminated the garbage surcharge, which had been $120 annually per household.

According to budget documents sent to LocalSource from the city, the average home is assessed at $131,835 in 2020. With a municipal tax rate of 2.218 percent, the average homeowner will pay $2,923.32 in taxes to the municipality for the year. In 2019, the average homeowner paid $2,930.73 in taxes, and in 2018, the average homeowner paid $2,936.91. Of course, taxes paid to the municipality account for only part of one’s property taxes. According to the city, just 31.73 percent of 2020 property taxes will go to the city of Linden, with 1.1 percent going to the library, as mandated by the state. Approximately 16.28 percent will go to Union County, with approximately 0.49 percent going to preserving open space in the county. The largest portion, approximately 50.4 percent, will go to the school district.

Of the city’s appropriations for the 2020 budget, nearly half, or $50,454,329.08, is going to salaries and wages; the remaining $59,997,005.61 is going to other expenditures. The city has 568 employees: 486 full-time, 41 part-time and 41 crossing guards.

Of all the appropriations, the largest slice of the pie, 31.5 percent, goes to public safety, which includes police, fire, Office of Emergency Management and dispatch. Community services, such as Department of Public Works and the Recreation Department, will receive 14.61 percent; insurance will receive 14.12 percent; statutory expenses will take 10.78 percent; debt service will take 10.7 percent; general government will take 10.42 percent; the reserve for uncollected taxes will take 3.76 percent; utilities will take 2.22 percent; and the library will receive 1.89 percent.

This year’s budget also allows for capital improvement, allocating $1,146,800 to improving the police department by purchasing and upgrading six SUV patrol vehicles, a terrestrial drone, radios, cameras, body cameras and computers. The fire department has been allocated $1,169,300 for the purchase of firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment, an ambulance, a new fire engine, and a new crew cab pickup truck.

Nonpublic safety capital improvements include allocating $1,135,200 to the Department of Public Works, public property, town planning, and buildings and grounds; $94,600 to the library for a van and computer upgrades; $2,614,400 to the Recreation Department; and $4,258,100 to engineering.