Municipal taxes reduced for fourth consecutive year in Hillsborough despite pandemic

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Hillsborough adopted the 2021 municipal budget at the Township Committee meeting on July 6, with a tax reduction and a taxpayer savings of $792,424.

“Hillsborough saw no reduction in revenue, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike many
surrounding municipalities,” Chief Financial Officer Nancy Costa said in a statement released by the township.
“This budget is the direct result of our dedicated staff. For Hillsborough to not have any
revenue reduction, even during the pandemic, is no small feat. Fiscal responsibility is
evidenced by our prudent spending and that deviation of all our employees regarding
municipal operations,” Mayor Shawn Lipani said in the statement.

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For 2021, the municipal tax rate is 31 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on a home assessed at the township average of $350,000, said Nancy Costa, chief financial officer. That homeowner will pay $1,085 in municipal taxes.
For 2020, the tax rate was 31.6 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on a home assessed at the township average of $350,000. That homeowner paid $1,106 in municipal taxes last year, Costa said.

The Finance team is composed of Deputy Mayor Frank DelCore, Committeewoman Janine
Erickson, Administrator Anthony Ferrera and Costa.
“It is notable that the increase in the total rateable value for 2021 of $243 million, up over
$188 million in 2020. This increases the tax base over which the tax levy is distributed and
assists the overall reduction of the tax rate,” Lipani said in the statement.
As has been the practice of the township, allowable exceptions over the 2% levy cap, which
for the 2021 budget could have added $792,424 to the tax levy, were not used in order to
reduce the tax impact on residents, according to the statement.

Available exceptions include pension obligation increases, deferred charges to future taxation and increase in debt service, capital improvement appropriations and health insurance costs.

Since the inception of the levy cap in 2011, the township had $3,591,717 in available exceptions which could have been used to increase taxes above the 2%, according to the statement.
The municipal budget represents approximately just over 13% of the total tax bill.
“If the township were to take advantage of the allowable exceptions and exceed the 2%
levy cap, the taxpayers would have incurred an additional $792,424 in taxes. As our CFO
noted for the 10th consecutive year, the municipal budget comes in below the 2% tax levy
cap while receiving no additional state aid,” Lipani 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,” DelCore, liaison and chair to the Finance Committee, 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,” DelCore said.
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, according to the statement. This practice affords the township to maintain its AA+ bond rating, officials said.

The budget includes monies allocated for the Capital Improvement Fund of $1.1 million, an increase of $450,000 for 2021, which will help to fund future capital ordinances, according to the statement.

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