HOPEWELL BOROUGH: Council adopts $2.9 million municipal budget for 2017


By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
Hopewell Borough Council has adopted its proposed $2.9 million municipal budget for 2017, following a public hearing May 4.
Under the newly adopted budget, the municipal property tax rate is increasing to 56.2 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from from 53.6 cents in 2016. One penny is equal to $31,827 for 2017.
This means the owner of a house assessed at the borough average of $350,000 will pay $87.50 more in municipal property taxes. The 2017 municipal property tax will be $1,963, compared to $1,876 for 2016.
"This budget is essentially a cost of living increase without impacting the needs of the residents," said Borough Administrator Michele Hovan.
"The Borough Council Finance Subcommittee and Chief Financial Officer Diane McDaniel worked tirelessly to assemble what can only be described as a good budget," Hovan said.
The overall budget increased to $2,994,437.45 for 2017 – up from the 2016 budget of $2,993,172.29. Hovan pointed out that the 2017 budget is $18,000 below the appropriations cap and $24,763 below the 2-percent tax levy cap.
Hovan was especially pleased with the increase in the fund balance, or surplus account.
The surplus account contained $787,244 at the end of 2016. The low point was a balance of $344,242 in surplus funds at the end of 2010.
Municipalities use some of the surplus funds as a source of revenue in the budget, with the expectation that the amount that was used in the budget can be regenerated during the year.
The 2017 budget includes $271,000 in surplus funds as a source of revenue. Other sources of revenue include $7,500 in licenses and $10,000 in fees and permits, plus $24,820 in fines from Hopewell Borough Municipal Court.
State aid remains flat at $170,313.
The budget anticipates raising $1.8 million in property taxes to support the spending plan. This includes $106,000 for the library tax.
Some of the major expenditures include $454,980 for the borough’s contract with Hopewell Township to provide police services. The borough also has a contract with Hopewell Township for senior services at a cost of $6,170.
The borough also has contracts with Montgomery Township to provide local health services at a cost of $31,300, and for animal control services for $8,860.