Data Sources and Calculations


Overview

All of the data used in TownStats, the New Jersey Municipal Budget Database project, is drawn directly from federal , state or municipal governments.

TownStats provides Demographics and Basic Information, Crime, State Aid, Property Tax, Ratable, and Employee Salary data for all 566 New Jersey municipalities.

We are displaying Municipal Budget categories individually for each municipality, using the standardized 60-to-90 page Municipal Data Sheets for adopted municipal budgets that are submitted to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (NJDCA) for fiscal review. Our Municipal Budget categories are based on NJDCA standardized categories, with modifications made at the suggestion of municipal finance experts from state and local government and academia.

We currently have more than 50 municipal budgets on-line and will be adding 25 to 50 per week throughout the spring until all 566 budgets for Calendar Year 2010 and State Fiscal Year 2011 are completed. Municipalities that are on a calendar year budget (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) will be developing their new budgets this spring and those on a state fiscal year basis (July 1 to June 30) will be doing their new budgets from late summer into early fall. We will begin adding Municipal Budget data for Calendar Year 2011 budgets in June.

Demographics and Basic Information

Population and Racial/Ethnic percentage breakdowns are drawn from the United States Bureau of the Census (link to Census) and are made available for the 2010, 2000 and 1990 census years.

The Area in Square Miles figure comes from the 2009 New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Report (http://www.nj.gov/oag/njsp/info/ucr2009/index.html), and Population Density Per Square Mile is calculated using the 2010, 2000 and 1990 Census Population figures.

Character is a descriptive category used by the New Jersey State Police in its annual Uniform Crime Report. The State Police describe each New Jersey municipality as Urban, Urban Suburb, Suburban, Rural Center or Rural. Our Character category also comes from the 2009 Uniform Crime Report (http://www.nj.gov/oag/njsp/info/ucr2009/index.html), which was completed by the State Police in December 2010.

Municipal Website links come from the list of County and Municipal Websites (http://www.state.nj.us/nj/gov/county/localgov.html) on the New Jersey state government home page (www.state.nj.us)



Crime

All of our Crime data is drawn from the Uniform Crime Reports compiled annually by the New Jersey State Police and available on-line under NJSP Crime Reports and Statistics (http://www.nj.gov/oag/njsp/info/stats.html) for the years 1998 through 2009. Our database provides crime and police staffing data for 2009 (http://www.nj.gov/oag/njsp/info/ucr2009/index.html) , the most recent year for which data is available, as well as data for 2005 (http://www.nj.gov/oag/njsp/info/ucr2005/index.html) and for 2000 (http://www.nj.gov/oag/njsp/info/ucr2000/index.html) for purposes of comparison. The data appear as Chapter VII under the heading “New Jersey Municipal-County Offense and Demographic Data.”

Total Index Crimes is the total of the seven crimes categorized as index crimes by the New Jersey State Police: Murder, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny and Motor Vehicle Theft.

Total Violent Crimes is the total of the four crimes categorized by the New Jersey State Police as Violent Crimes: Murder, Rape, Robbery and Aggravated Assault.

Calculations of Index Crimes Per 1,000 Population and Violent Crimes Per 1,000 Population are provided by the New Jersey State Police using their population estimates for that year.

Total Police Employees is a figure provided by the New Jersey State Police that includes civilian employees, although most police employees are uniformed in every town. For a breakdown by gender and uniformed/civilian, go directly to the 2009 Uniform Crime Report (http://www.nj.gov/oag/njsp/info/ucr2009/index.html).

Index Crimes Per Police Employee and Police Employees Per 1,000 Population are our calculations using the New Jersey State Police data listed above.



State Aid

CMPTRA stands for the Comprehensive Municipal Property Tax Relief Act, which has long been the main source of municipal aid given out by the state on a formula basis. Like all data in this section, it is taken from the Municipal State Aid Certification http://www.state.nj.us/dca/lgs/muniaid/aidmenu.shtml

maintained on the web by the DCA's Division of Local Government Services.

Energy Tax Receipts Payments from the state replaced Gross Receipts and Utility Tax Revenues provided to municipalities that house utility plants and other structures.

Other State Aid includes all municipal aid programs other than CMPTRA and Energy Tax Receipts Payments. The programs change periodically: The 2010 figure includes Garden State Preservation Trust and Watershed Moratorium Offset funding. The 2005 figure includes Legislative Municipal Block Grant, Municipal Homeland Security Assistance, Watershed Moratorium Offset and Pinelands Property Tax Stabilization funding. The 2000 figure consists of Legislative Municipal Block Grant funding. For a detailed breakdown, see DCA's Municipal State Aid Certification http://www.state.nj.us/dca/lgs/muniaid/aidmenu.shtml spreadsheets for that particular year.

Total State Formula Aid represents the total of CMPTRA, Energy Tax Receipts Payments and Other State Aid.



Property Taxes and Ratables

Number of Residences is drawn from the Division of Local Government Services' Abstract of Ratables http://www.state.nj.us/dca/lgs/taxes/taxmenu.shtml

Average Residential Property Value is drawn from the Division of Local Government Services' Property Value Classification tables http://www.state.nj.us/dca/lgs/taxes/taxmenu.shtml and reflects a home's assessed value.

Average Total Property Taxes reflect the average total property tax per residence paid for municipal, county and school taxes combined. It is compiled in the Division of Local Government Services' Property Taxes tables.http://www.state.nj.us/dca/lgs/taxes/taxmenu.shtml

Average Property Tax Rebate is the average direct aid payment received per residence in that town to offset property taxes. It appears on the DLGS Property Taxes charts.

Average Net Property Taxes is the difference between Average Total Property Taxes and Average Property Tax Rebates.

Total Local Municipal Tax Levy is the total property tax charged to support municipal government services.

Total County Tax Levy is the total property tax charged to support county government services.

Total School Tax Levy is the total property tax charged to support school district K-12 services.

Total Property Tax Levy is the total property tax charge to support municipal government, county government and K-12 school district services combined.

Total Valuation Taxable is the total assessed value of all property subject to property taxes in a municipality. It is drawn from the Property Tax Classification tables.

Residential Value is the total assessed value of residential property, including farms.

Non-Residential Value is the total assessed value of commercial, industrial and other non-residential property.

Vacant Land Value is the value of all property on which no taxable structure stands.

Percentage Residential Value is the percentage of total assessed value zoned for residential use.

Calendar Year Equalized Value is derived by formula by the Department of Community Affairs to reflect the actual value of all property subject to property taxes in a municipality. It is drawn from the DLGS Abstract of Ratables.

Calendar Year Total Equalized Rate is the ratio of true value to the assessed value of residential property.



Employees and Salaries

Data for the Employees and Salaries section are compiled from New Jersey Treasury Department's Division of Pensions and Benefits (http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/).

We currently provide Employees and Salaries data for 2009, but we have requested a computer run of pension data for February 2011 from Treasury and anticipate adding the new data during the first two weeks of March.

Total Municipal Employees reflects the total number of employees in each municipality enrolled in the Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), which covers police and firefighters, and the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), which covers non-uniformed employees. Our figure does not include employees of any municipal authorities, such as sewerage, utility or parking authorities. Our figure does include a significant number of part-time employees, such as crossing guards, who are part of the PERS pension system, and that is one reason that the median base salary for PERS employees is usually in the $40,000 range, rather than the $50,000 range, which would be more often the case if part-time employees were excluded. The PERS data do not distinguish between full-time and part-time, however, and some part-time employees, such as municipal judges or municipal prosecutors, are highly compensated.

For both the Police and Fire Retirement System and the Public Employees Retirement System, we provide Total Number of Employees, Number of Employees with Base Pay of $100,000 or More, Median Base Pay, and the Name and Base Pay of the highest-paid individual, who is usually the police chief in the PFRS system and the municipal administrator in the PERS system.

Median Base Pay is the amount that the individual located in the middle of the list earns. In a town with 101 employees, we would show the base pay of the 51st-highest paid employee in that retirement system. In towns with 100 employees, we would use the 50th-highest base pay as the median, rather than “rounding up” to the 49th-highest base pay or averaging the 49th and 50th highest-paid.

Detailed information on all employee salaries in a municipality from 2009, as well as school district, county and state employee data, are provided as part of Gannett's Data Universe section (http://www.app.com/section/DATA?nav=2) on the Asbury Park Press website.



Municipal Budgets

Municipalities supply their adopted municipal budgets to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs' Division of Local Government Services on Municipal Data Sheets, running from 60 to more than 100 pages that follow a specified format for budget categories. These budgets are submitted on paper, rather than electronically, and whether obtained from municipal websites or directly from the Division of Local Government Services, the budgets appear as PDF's, rather than in the Excel spreadsheet format in which most were originally compiled by the municipalities' accountants.

These Municipal Data Sheets provide lists of appropriations under various headings such as Parks and Recreation or Public Works, but no calculation of subtotals for these categories is made. In addition, while the Division of Local Government Services provides numerical codes for particular appropriations categories, such as Solid Waste or Public Defender, for example, municipalities frequently list an appropriation for one category under another code, often one of the range of numbers used for General Government. In calculating individual budget categories, we assign spending that is marked by the municipality for a specific purpose to that category, rather than following the numerical code when it is clearly mismarked.

The hour it takes to compile budget spending categories from paper or PDF documents for each municipality is one reason that such a project has never been undertaken previously in New Jersey by any government agency, college or nonprofit group. We make at least one judgment call on virtually every budget, and we encourage municipal officials who have questions or corrections to suggest to contact us by email at info@independentcenter.org. Please review the detailed description of budget categories below before contacting us, however, because some numbers will differ because of policy decisions on where to allocate spending. The Division of Local Government Services, for example, includes Employee Group Health Insurance as one of its Insurance categories, while we put it into the Pensions and Benefits category because we believe that most elected officials, journalists and citizens think of health insurance as a benefit, and because we believe that it more logically belongs in that category. Similar decisions in other budget categories are explained below.



Municipal Budget Categories:

Budget Year shows the most recent Calendar Year (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) or State Fiscal Year (July 1 to June 30) budget. All budgets are current except for towns that are in six-month Transition Year budgets, such as Jersey City and Hamilton Township in Mercer County, which are currently preparing their Calendar Year 2011 budgets; for those towns, we provide State Fiscal Year 2010 budgets.

Total Municipal Budget is the Total General Appropriations figure that appears as No. 4 on Sheet 3 on all Municipal Data Sheets.

Local Property Tax is the Local Tax for Municipal Purposes including Reserve for Uncollected Taxes that appears as No. 6 on Sheet 3. It does not include the school or county portion of local property taxes.

State Aid is the figure for State Aid Without Offsetting Appropriations listed under Miscellaneous Revenues as “Total Section B” (FCOA 09-001) on Sheet 11.

Local Revenues is listed as “Total Section A” (FCOA 08-001) listed under Miscellaneous Revenues on Sheet 11, and includes Fees, Permits and Licenses (FCOA 08-103 through 105), Fines (08-110), Parking Revenues (08-111), Interest & Costs on Taxes (08-112) and Interest on Investments (08-113).

Other Miscellaneous Revenues is our calculation of the Total Miscellaneous Revenues (13-099) on Sheet 11, minus State Aid and Local Revenues as described above. It includes Dedicated Uniform Construction Code Fees (08-002) and four categories of Special Items of General Revenue Anticipated with Prior Written Consent of Director of Local Government Services, including, for example, revenue from Interlocal Municipal Service Agreements.

Surplus Anticipated is the total of the FCOA 08-101 and 08-102 regular and special surplus categories on Sheet 11.

Reserve for Uncollected Taxes (FCOA 34-499) appears as No. 3 on Sheet 3.

Receipts from Delinquent Taxes (FCOA 15-499) appears as No. 4 on Sheet 11.

General Government (FCOA 20-100 through 129 and 20-165 through 179) includes salaries and expenses for elected officials, the town clerk or administrator, and generally for township office employees not included in other budget categories listed below. The category also includes such miscellaneous expenses as equipment leases. Engineering services also fall under this category.

Financial Administration (FCOA 130 through 154) includes salaries and costs for tax collection, financial administration, audit services and computerized data processing.

Legal Services (FCOA 155) includes the cost of the municipal attorney and the municipal prosecutor, but not the municipal court and public defender, which are listed separately. Some towns apportion legal costs throughout various departments, so comparison of spending between towns in this category is difficult.

Police Budget (FCOA 25-240) is the direct cost of the Police Department.

Fire Budget (FCOA 25-255 and 25-265) covers the cost of fire services, but it is one of the categories that varies most widely from municipality to municipality. It isn’t only that some towns have paid departments and some have volunteer departments that do a lot of their own fundraising and only receive minor contributions from their town. It is also that some towns are covered by separate fire districts, whose costs are often not reflected in municipal budgets.

Other Public Safety (FCOA 25-250, 25-252, 25-260, and 25-270 through 25-289) includes Public Safety Communications (Dedicated 911), Emergency Medical Services, Office of Emergency Management and other miscellaneous services that do not fall specifically under Police or Fire.

Municipal Court and Public Defender (43-490 through 499) are grouped together for budget purposes. While it would be logical to include the Municipal Prosecutor in this category, most towns lump the prosecutor’s budget into general legal services, so it is not possible to do so at this stage of the TownStats project.

Public Works includes Street and Road Maintenance (25-290), Sanitary Sewer Services (31-455), Stormwater Management (xx-510 through 515) and miscellaneous public works functions, but not Solid Waste and Recycling, which we broke out into a separate category.

Solid Waste and Recycling (25-305 and 32-465) appears as a separate category because so many towns have private garbage collection services for which residents pay separately.

Parks and Recreation (28-370 through 389) is expanded to include the cost of special community events and celebrations, which often appear in budgets as miscellaneous items with no FCOA code attached.

Health and Human Services (27-330 through 369) includes animal control and deer management programs, as well as the Board of Health and the usual health and human services categories.

Land Use Administration (21-180 through 194) includes the budgets for the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Code Enforcement (22-195 through 209) includes the budget for all building subcode officials.

Library Services (29-390) vary widely from town to town and do not appear in the budget at all where large county library systems are funded through county taxes.

Total Operations reflects Total Operations including Contingent Operations within Caps (FCOA 34-201)

Total Salaries and Wages for Operations appears as FCOA 34-201-1.

Other Expenses for Operations appears as FCOA 34-201-2.

Pension and Employee Benefits includes Statutory Expenditures on Sheet 19 for Contribution to Public Employees Retirement System (36-471), Social Security System (36-472), Consolidated Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund I36-474), Deferred Compensation (36-476), plus the cost of Medical Insurance, including dental and prescription plans (23-220).

Compensated Absence Liability in both days and dollars appears on Sheet 3C of Municipal Data Sheets.

Insurance Costs include Liability, or Property and Casualty (23-210), Workers Compensation (23-215) and Unemployment Insurance (23-225). While NJDCA usually includes Employee Health Insurance coverage in this category, we are including that category under Pensions and Benefits.

Debt Service includes both debt service and capital lease obligations (45-900 through 999)

Capital Budget includes all capital costs funded in that year’s municipal budget (44-900 through 999). Many budgets include five-year and six-year budget plans.

Utility Expenses (31-430 through 460, except 455) cover all utility costs paid through the municipal budget except for Sanitary Sewer expenses, which are included in Public Works. Because many municipalities have services provided by separate utility authorities whose costs to taxpayers may not be included in the municipal budget, this is a very difficult budget item to compare.