Bloomfield Budget Update: Hefty Tax Hike Looms In Town’s Future

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Are you wondering how much your property taxes are going to increase this year in Bloomfield? Local homeowners now have a much better idea of what may be coming down the road after a highly anticipated town hall meeting this week.

On Monday, three Bloomfield town officials – mayor Ted Gamble, acting township administrator Anthony DeZenzo and chief financial officer Jennifer Semler – joined financial advisor Steve Wielkotz of Wielkotz & Company to discuss the still-in-development 2024 municipal budget.

Watch video footage from the town hall below or view it online here. A slideshow presentation from the meeting can be seen online here.

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An average home assessed at $354,400 would pay $4,524 in municipal taxes under the town’s tentative budget, up from $4,204 in 2023 – a $320 increase (about 7.6 percent).

It’s important to note that municipal taxes are only one component of a homeowner’s property tax bill. The other two major parts are the school and county taxes (and to a lesser extent, library and open space levies).

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Here’s how that broke down in Bloomfield last year, according to state data:

Bloomfield school taxes in 2024 will be $5,497 for a home assessed at $354,400 (an increase of about $113). Local officials are estimating the projected county tax increase will come to $51.

When added up, it would mean a $12,017 total tax bill for the average Bloomfield home in 2024. The tax hike – a $501 increase from last year – would need to be made up in the third and fourth quarter payments, since the first two quarters have already been billed and paid.

It’s a significant bump from recent years, according to slideshow, which included a five-year tally of overall property tax increases in Bloomfield (article continues below).

While the early numbers are officially out, the race isn’t run on this year’s spending plan.

The municipal budget is expected to be introduced at the July 15 meeting of the Bloomfield Township Council, which will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at 1 Municipal Plaza. The budget recommendation for adoption statutorily would be Aug. 12.

Bloomfield residents can access their tax/utility bills and account information online here.

“Since I’ve been on council, this is the largest increase that has been proposed,” Gamble said at this week’s town hall meeting.

“I don’t think anybody here is happy about that, including myself and the professionals here,” he continued. “I would hope between now and when we introduce on the 15th. We take another look at this and see if there’s any other opportunities to bring that number down.”

A major contributing factor to this year’s budget crunch in Bloomfield is the expiration of federal pandemic aid.

According to Wielkotz, Bloomfield received about $26 million from the federal government under the American Rescue Plan. From 2021 to 2024, a large portion of that money was used to help keep local taxes under control. But expenses kept rising each year: health insurance benefits, garbage, pensions.

Instead of raising local property taxes during a pandemic, the cost increases were mainly absorbed by using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, he explained.

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Semler said the township has been trying to “wean itself off” the soon-to-expire ARP aid and replace it with more sustainable revenue. But the expiration of federal pandemic aid isn’t the only significant challenge that Bloomfield is facing with this year’s municipal budget, Semler added.

“I’m sure you guys in your personal life can understand inflation-related increases in materials, cost of utilities and just other general expenses,” Semler appealed to residents in the audience. “Everything is costing more. And we still have the same needs.”

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