The Princeton municipal property tax rate will hold steady at 49 cents per $100 of assessed value under the revised 2020 municipal budget approved by the Princeton Council at its April 27 meeting.
The proposed 2020 municipal budget that was introduced at the Princeton Council’s March 9 meeting carried a one-cent increase in the municipal property tax rate, which would have increased it from 49 cents to 50 cents.
But the Princeton Council subsequently instructed Administrator Mark Dashield to review the proposed budget, anticipating reductions in revenue because of Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order issued March 21.
At the Princeton Council’s April 13 meeting, Dashield presented revisions to the proposed budget that reduced it from $64.8 million to $64.1 million. The revised budget, which carries a 49-cent municipal property tax rate, was adopted at the council’s April 27 meeting.
The 49-cent municipal property tax, which includes the open space tax and the library tax, means the owner of a house assessed at the town average of $838,562 will pay $4,277 in municipal property taxes. This is the same amount as in 2019.
The revised budget uses more money in surplus funds than the initial budget that was introduced in March. That version earmarked $6.9 million in surplus funds as a source of revenue, but town officials have dipped into the surplus account and will use $7.2 million to help support the budget.
Dashield said he expected to regenerate that amount for the surplus fund.
Overall miscellaneous revenue was reduced from $15.7 million to $15.3 million. Miscellaneous revenue includes licenses, fees and permits, alcoholic beverage licenses, and fire and housing inspection fees.
Municipal Court revenue from fines and court costs has been reduced from $1 million to $600,000. Parking revenue also is expected to decline because of the state-ordered shutdown. Most stores are closed and parking enforcement has been suspended.
The amount to be raised by property taxes to support the spending plan is $35.4 million.
Property taxes generate 51 percent of the overall revenue for the 2020 municipal budget. Miscellaneous revenue accounts for 19%, and surplus funds amount to 11%. Princeton University’s payment in lieu of taxes is 5%.
Although the ink had barely dried on the 2020 municipal budget, Princeton officials already are looking ahead to the 2021 municipal budget.
“We will really have to work and keep an eye on next year as we go through this process. As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still unknowns,” Dashield told the Princeton Council.
There are still possible budget implications, especially for the Princeton Health Department, Dashield said.
Mayor Liz Lempert agreed, and said that Gov. Murphy’s blueprint for re-opening the state requires some initial steps to be in place. This includes contact tracing – locating anyone who had contacted with an infected person – by the Princeton Health Department.