Hillsborough Township introduced the 2020 municipal budget at the Township Committee meeting on June 9, with a tax reduction for the third consecutive year.
“This budget is a result of our team’s continued fiscal responsibility regarding municipal operations, despite continued operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Doug Tomson said in a statement prepared by the township.
The finance team is composed of Tomson, Committeewoman Gloria McCauley, Administrator Anthony Ferrera and Chief Financial Officer Nancy Costa.
The township’s Business Continuity of Operations Plan was integral in the township’s ability to continue to operate and offer services despite being closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the statement.
The township saw an increase in the total ratable value for 2020 of $188 million, a 3.06% ratable increase, which therefore increases the tax base over which the tax levy is distributed.
The municipal tax rate is reduced for the third year in a row. While the school board and county portions of the tax rate have increased from 2015, the township’s tax rate has decreased by 1.4 cents since 2015, according to the statement.
As has been the practice of the township, allowable exceptions over the 2% levy cap which for the 2020 budget could have added $26,213 to the tax levy, were not utilized in order to reduce the tax impact on township residents. Available exceptions include pension obligation increases, deferred charges to future taxation and increase in debt service and capital improvement appropriations. Since the inception of the levy cap in 2011, the township had $2,147,361 in available exceptions which could have been used to increase taxes above the 2% cap, according to the statement.
“It is important to note that this budget represents just over 13% of your total tax bill,” Tomson said upon Costa’s presentation, according to the statement.
“If the township were to take advantage of the allowable exceptions and exceed the 2% levy cap, the taxpayers would have incurred an additional $26,213 in taxes. As Mayor Tomson previously stated for the 10th consecutive year, the municipal budget comes in below the 2% tax levy cap while receiving no additional State aid,“ Committeewoman Gloria McCauley, Finance liaison, said in the statement.
“This budget is a direct result of the Township Committee’s commitment to continued fiscal responsibility; working efficiently while providing our taxpayers the same level of service excellence they expect and deserve,” Tomson said in the statement. “It has been the position of this Township Committee to take a fiscally prudent stand when dealing with the township’s finances. In addition, cost savings have been a part of the municipal employees’ annual goals and objectives. Their efforts are additionally realized in the results of this budget.”
The township continues the “Pay As You Go Program” for routine capital purchases and further makes payments on debt service greater than what is required, therefore further reducing the debt of the township. This practice affords the township to maintain its AA+ bond rating. The budget includes monies allocated for the Capital Improvement Fund of $600,000 which will help to fund future capital ordinances, according to the statement..
The public hearing and adoption of the 2020 Municipal Budget is scheduled for July 14.