Hillsborough municipal taxes reduced for third consecutive year

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The Hillsborough Township Committee adopted the 2020 municipal budget at the Township Committee meeting on July 28, with a tax reduction for the third consecutive year.

“As indicated during the introduction, 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 released by township officials.

The 2020 Municipal Finance team was composed of Tomson, Committeewoman Gloria McCauley, Administrator Anthony Ferrera and Chief Financial Officer Nancy Costa.

As a result of extensive business continuity planning over the years, municipal services were operational despite the building being closed for a period 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. 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, according to the statement. 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.

The municipal budget represents just over approximately 13% of the total tax bill in Hillsborough Township.

The total municipal budget is $29,994,726 and the total municipal tax levy is $20,060,789, according to information provided by Nancy R. Costa, Hillsborough’s chief financial officer and tax collector.
The 2019 tax rate was $2.404 and the 2020 final tax rate will be $2.384.
The township uses $350,000 as the average assessed value of a home, she said.
The total levy for 2020 – which includes county, school, municipal and fire district taxes – is $151,219,973.97 – that is the amount of taxes that will be billed out this year, she said.

“This Township Committee remains committed to fiscal responsibility, working efficiently while providing our taxpayers the same level of service excellence they expect and deserve,” said Tomson, who is the liaison to the Finance Committee, in the statement.

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, according to the statement.

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.