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November 3, 2014

Re:      User Friendly Budget Proposed

Dear Mayor:

Local Finance Notice 2014-19 provides an overview of the Division of Local Government Service’s proposed rule on the User Friendly Budget.  In 2007, then Governor Corzine signed into law P.L. 2007, c. 63, which among other things required the Local Finance Board to adopt rules for a plain language budget summary form.  The plain language budget summary is required to provide the public with information in a summary form about the budget of the local unit and must include statistical information useful for the public’s understanding of the local unit’s fiscal matters and conditions.

The proposed User Friendly Budget is an excel spreadsheet with 11 sheets as follows:

UFB-1 Property Tax Breakdown:  This sheet has the various categories of property tax broken down by tax rate, tax levy and the amount the average residential taxpayer pays towards each.  A comparison of the municipal purpose tax rate and levy, along with the residential taxpayer impact, between the prior and current budget years is also calculated and displayed.

UFB-2 Anticipated Revenue Summary (All Operating Funds):  This sheet provides total revenues in general categories, including surplus, along with comparison from the prior to current budget years.  Revenue is reported for the proposed budget from the current fund and from each utility.  

UFB-3 Appropriations Summary (All Operating Funds):  For this sheet appropriations would be allocated into summary categories for the current fund, grant fund and each utility fund, along with a comparison from the prior to current budget years.    All full-time and part-time budgeted personnel positions for the current year are listed for each category.  Employees are to be shown as funded by each category.  If an employee is funded in more than one department, their time charged to each department must be shown as a fraction.

UFB-4 Structural Budget Imbalances:  This sheet requires an individual listing of all structural imbalances, including offsets, with a description for each and the amount thereof.  Revenues at risk, non-recurring current appropriation reductions, future year appropriation increases and structural balances offsets must also be listed individually with a description.  This sheet is the same sheet currently found in the Municipal Budget as Sheet 3b(2).
UFB-5 Property Tax Assessment:  This sheet includes the aggregate values of properties subject to property tax assessment, as well as tax-exempt properties for the prior year.

UFB-6 Property Tax Abatements/Exemptions:  This sheet requires a municipality to include a list of projects (i.e. properties) subject to the Long Term Exemption Law and the aggregate impact of exemptions/abatements subject to the “Five Year” law, the taxable value of those projects, the actual revenue generated from the projects and the amount of revenue that would have been generated if those projected were subject to full taxation.

UFB-7 Budgeted Personnel Costs:  This sheet includes the base pay, estimate pension costs, health benefit costs (net of employee contribution), overtime and other compensation and employment taxes and other benefits for police, fire, supervisory staff, governing body members and all union and non-union employees. 

UFB-8 Health Benefit Costs:  This sheet details the current year health benefit costs for active employees, elected officials and retirees, along with the extent of employee cost sharing contributions. 

UFB-9 Accumulated Absence Liability:  This sheet details the gross number of days of accumulated absence, which is for unused sick and vacation time, the dollar value, the legal basis for the absence (i.e. municipal ordinance, employment contract), and the funds available to fund the liability.  Each non-union employee eligible for the benefit must be listed individually.  This sheet is the same sheet currently found in the Municipal Budget as Sheet 3(b)(3).

UFB-10 Debt:  This sheet details the debt obligations for current and future budget years.  Current year gross and net debt is broken down not only into the various types of municipal purpose debt but also by utility fund and school debt. 

UFB-11 Shared Services:  This sheet list each shared service that the municipality provides or receive, the other entity providing/receiving the service, the beginning and end date of the agreement and the amount paid or received for the service.

The proposed User Friendly Budget form is available at www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dlgs/programs/mc_budgets.html#1

The deadline to submit comments on the proposed rules is December 19, 2014.  We are currently reviewing the proposed rules and will be submitting comments as appropriate. 

If you have any questions or need additional information please do not hesitate to contact Lori Buckelew, Senior Legislative Analyst, at 609-695-3481 ext. 112 or lbuckelew@njslom.com.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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