Camden City Council to vote on sending off first quarter taxes

Many Camden City residents are still trying to figure out a solution to their high property tax bills from 2011, whether it’s coming up with the money or appealing to local government. Well, they will soon be hit with the next round of property taxes -- for first quarter 2012 -- which will likely have only a slight increase (about $20 for the average home valued at $55,000).

Because the fiscal year 2012 city budget has yet to be adopted, City Council will have to vote tonight whether to allow the first quarter tax bills to go out based on the city’s proposed budget. It calls for an increase of less than 4 percent in the municipal tax levy.

The municipal property tax rate accounts for only one slice of the property tax pie. There are also county, school, library, and open space rates.

Last year, the city increased its municipal tax levy by 9.8 percent, while the county increased its levy by 21 percent. Also added was a library tax because the city joined the county library system.

Assuming that the other tax rates stay the same, a tax bill for a home valued at the city’s average of $55,000 would be $1,382, up from $1,365.  

Though city finance director Glynn Jones said he does not expect to raise the levy much higher than the 4 percent the city has suggested in its proposed budget, the state Department of Community Affairs has approved an increase as high as 20 percent if the city needs it.

"Camden was authorized by the Local Finance Board to increase its levy by 20 percent in 2011 ... and that approval still holds," DCA Acting Commissioner Richard Constable III wrote in an e-mail today.

Residents won’t know for sure until the budget comes up for adoption, which could take a couple more months. The final budget will depend on whether a regional police plan is a go and a few other factors, Jones said.  

Regardless, residents’ second quarter bills would be adjusted if the rate goes up or down once the budget is adopted.