Hightstown introduces 2020 municipal budget

The Hightstown Borough Council plans to hold a public hearing and take final action on its proposed $7.7 million budget for 2020 at a special virtual meeting set for Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

The budget, which increases the municipal property tax rate from $1.32 per $100 of assessed value to $1.36, was introduced Aug. 31 at a special meeting of the Hightstown Borough Council.

The proposed increase means the owner of a house assessed at the borough average of $213,073 will pay $2,904.18 in municipal property taxes for 2020, which is an increase of $74.58 over the 2019 municipal property tax of $2,829.61. The municipal property tax is one component of a property owner’s total tax bill.

The proposed $7.7 million budget decreased by $21,462 over last year’s budget. However, the amount to be raised by property taxes increased by $150,362 – from $5.2 million to $5.3 million. Property taxes represent the main source of revenue to support the spending plan.

Miscellaneous revenue will generate an additional $1.5 million. This includes $7,500 for alcoholic beverage licenses and $17,000 for other licenses, as well as $45,000 in fees and permits, $200,000 in municipal C=court fees and fines, $58,000 for the lease of Hightstown Borough-owned property for a cell tower, and $57,000 in interest on taxes and $20,000 in interest on investments.

Miscellaneous revenue also includes assorted grants and the annual $23,000 gift from The Peddie School, plus state aid, which remains flat at $503,550. The budget also anticipates using $275,000 in surplus funds as a source of revenue.

Turning to the expenditure side, the Public Safety Department constitutes the single largest budgetary line item. The budget earmarks $1.8 million of the Public Safety Department, which is nearly $100,000 more than in the 2019 municipal budget.

The proposed 2020 municipal budget also calls for spending $796,448 for the Public Works Department, which is $126,527 less than in 2019.

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