"To tell you the truth, it's not expected that they will receive any money
because typically the grant money goes to distressed urban school districts. But because there is a possibility, they had to hold off voting until they find out."
This is the third year that Franklin Township has applied to the state for the grant, Paul added. Each time the township has been turned down. He said he did not know when the township would get the state's OK to enact the budget.
If the budget stays the same, as is likely, the tax rate will increase to 82 cents from 78 cents per $100 of assessed valuation for homeowners. The owner of a home assessed at $65,000, the township average, would pay $533, an increase of $26.
There is little difference between the 1992 budget and 1993 budget. The most obvious difference is that total spending increases by $175,506, while actual appropriations under the budget dropped by $123,963 from last year's budget of $7.44 million.
During a public hearing on the budget last week, Alex Clemick, a retired tax collector for the township, criticized the committee for increasing taxes. He repeatedly held up a copy of the Franklin newspaper, the Sentinel, which is running nearly two full pages of names of tax-delinquent property owners.
"How can you increase taxes when people can't afford to make ends meet?" he said. He then lashed out at the tax office, saying that when he held the post he went door-to-door to encourage residents to pay their taxes on time.
Residents' failure to pay their taxes is the chief reason taxes are going up, officials said.
The township's reserve for uncollected taxes dropped from 87.6 percent to 86.55 percent, equalling about $300,000. In actual dollars, it means the difference between $1.7 million in 1991 and the $1.4 million that came in during 1992.
The reserve for uncollected taxes is the amount of money the township must set aside to pay local and regional school districts and county taxes. It accounts for nearly 22 percent of the township's budget.
Township officials have repeatedly vowed to increase tax collection and say they are exploring ways to encourage residents to pay their taxes on time.