Red Bank's property tax could jump 33 percent under the city's proposed 2012 fiscal year budget.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the city's Board of Commissioners also voted to approve a land swap, part of a $30 million project for a new Red Bank middle school.
After the meeting, City Manager Chris Dorsey said the property tax, currently at $1.10 per $100 of assessed value, would rise to $1.46. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $90 more each year, he said.
The move is needed, he said, to keep the budget balanced in the face of a 3.9 percent decrease in budget revenues, thanks to faltering local sales tax and a cut in state shared taxes after the release of the 2010 census, which showed a decrease in the city's population.
"With the economic makeup of Red Bank being primarily a bedroom community, our main dependent and reliable source of revenue continues to be and will always be property taxes," Dorsey said.
The last time Red Bank raised property taxes was in 2006.
Before voting on the budget in June, city officials will hold a series of "budget workshops" in which they'll comb through the document on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 3 p.m.
A public hearing is slated for May 23 at 6 p.m.
"My first response is that I'm opposed to any new taxes," said Red Bank resident Craig Troxler, who attended Tuesday's meeting. "I know they've made cuts and that they've got to balance the budget somehow, but I really hope it's not going to be as high as they're saying now."
Dorsey said city finances also are affected by climbing prices for various "municipal necessities," including landfill disposal costs, Hamilton County 911 funding and fuel for city vehicles.
The proposed budget cites a $282,045 increase in expenditures for the city. Increases also include a 2 percent "payroll parity adjustment," and an increase of health insurance for city employees.
In the land swap, Red Bank essentially will take 14 acres of park property behind Red Bank High School - originally developed with federal funding under the stipulation it be used for recreation - and swap it for a matching amount of acreage in the city.
The new middle school is slated for the 14 acres, while the city will replace the park property with about 10 acres on Stringer's Ridge and three acres at the current middle school's location, Dorsey said at a public hearing last week.
Because the money for the park originally came from the federal government, the swap must be approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Next, Erlanger North - which owns three of the acres marked out for the new school - must agree to the sale. Then the Hamilton County school board will vote on whether to approve the spending for the school's construction.
Lastly, the Hamilton County Commission must approve the project.
If all parties approve the deal, Dorsey said ground could be broken as early as this summer and be ready in time for the 2013 school year.
Before the commission voted on the land swap, Commissioners John Roberts and Floy Pierce explained they would be voting "no" because of what they called the commissioners' lack of attention paid to the Red Bank Girls Softball Association. The league has four fields that would be displaced once the school's construction begins.