Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin’s proposed 2020 municipal budget includes a tax increase of 4.4 cents. The township says the increase is necessary to fill a budget hole the township faces due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This increase would result in a municipal tax increase of $8.33 per month for an average Hamilton home with an assessed valuation of $225,000.

Martin is set to present his inaugural budget to the Township Council tonight. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. via teleconference. Residents can find instructions on how to join the call on the township website, www.HamiltonNJ.com.

As of Jan. 1, Hamilton found itself in a budget hole totaling roughly $4 million, the largest portion of which was from a decrease in available surplus funds, according to the township.

At the end of 2019, Hamilton had approximately $6.1 million in surplus funds available, compared to the $9.2 million available in the surplus the prior year.

The township had cost increases totaling $2.125 million in operating expenses, compared to the 2019 adopted budget.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, Hamilton anticipated revenue losses. These losses ranged from $300,000 in Municipal Court fees, $450,000 in bank interest income, $25,000 on golf center revenue and others totaling $1.85 million as a result of the pandemic.

Altogether the township’s budget gap came to nearly $8 million. To overcome the gap, the township decided to furlough nearly all part-time employees, cut overtime and cut many of its activities due to both health and budget concerns.

These cuts totaled over $650,000.

Additionally, almost all employees on expired contracts agreed to a one-year contract extension, which includes a 0 percent pay raise this year. The township is working to secure the commitment to these savings from other unions. These savings, once agreed to by all unions, would result in additional savings of approximately $1.25 million.

The savings made were not enough to overcome the township’s budgetary needs, resulting in the tax increase.

For more information on the township visit, www.HamiltonNJ.com.