Lumberton ready to go out to bond on $5M public safety building, introduce budget
|By Danielle Desisto on Mar 7, 2017 for the Burlington County Times|
LUMBERTON — When the township goes out to bid on a $5 million public safety building later this month, officials hope to realize savings thanks to an upgraded credit rating.
Plans call for a new building on Municipal Drive across from the municipal building to house the Fire Department, Bureau of Fire Protection, EMS squad and Office of Emergency Management. Plans for the public safety center will be finalized by Garrison Architects of Bellmawr in April with the goal of breaking ground this summer, Township Administrator Brandon Umba said. The funds also will cover $500,000 in proposed improvements to the firehouse on Main Street.
Standard & Poor’s credit rating service raised the municipality's rating from AA- to AA, marking improvements in stability and budgetary performance, including implementing strong financial controls to help maintain its fund balance.
“They were impressed that we have definitely improved from a financial perspective, and that’s why they gave us an upgrade,” Umba said.
Mayor Sean Earlen said the credit rating upgrade will help extend the township’s borrowing capacity for future projects. Lower borrowing costs also mean reduced costs to taxpayers. Township officials estimated that the stronger rating will save taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the bonds, which is expected to be 25 years.
The financial improvement is years in the making and will also be reflecting in the new budget, officials said.
The township has reduced its overall spending budget by $1.19 million over the past 10 years, according to Committeeman Mike Mansdoerfer, liaison to the Finance Department. The committee plans to introduce a $8.78 million budget for 2017-18 at its March 14 meeting. Officials said they expect the local property tax rate will decrease by about a cent, translating to a $30 tax break on the average residential bill.
“It’s been an ongoing process, but now with the recession on its way out, it’s finally come to fruition,” Mansdoerfer said.