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Mercer County’s proposed 2021 budget calls for flat tax rate

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes has presented to the County Board of Commissioners his administration’s proposed 2021 budget, a $332.2 million spending plan that stays within the state-mandated 2% cap and would result in no change in the overall county tax rate.

Hughes presented an overview of his administration’s budget proposal to the commissioners on March 11, who will review the document over the coming weeks before voting on its adoption.

Of the total budget, $269 million would be collected through property taxes, the same levy as last year. The overall county tax rate would remain at 58 cents per $100 of assessed value, according to information provided by the county.

“This document represents our effort to provide the best possible government in the most cost-effective manner to the taxpayer,” Hughes said in the statement. “The fact of the matter is that many of our residents are suffering because of the pandemic, and it is up to us to tighten our belts and hold the line.”

A resident’s actual tax rate will rise or fall depending on his or her municipality once the county rate is equalized to reflect the difference between municipal property assessments and property market values.

The budget proposes that $14 million of the county’s surplus be used, leaving a $21 million balance, according to the statement.

“It has been my policy to keep a healthy balance in our surplus fund to cover unforeseen circumstances,” Hughes said in the statement. “While no one could have imagined living through a pandemic, our fiscal prudence over the years has helped us weather this unprecedented storm.”

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