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Hightstown Borough Council adopts 2021 municipal budget

The Hightstown Borough Council unanimously adopted its $8.1 million municipal budget for 2021 following a public hearing at its Sept. 7 meeting.

The budget increases the municipal property tax rate from $1.36 per $100 of assessed value to $1.41. The owner of a house assessed at the Hightstown Borough average of $214,558 will pay $3,025 in municipal property taxes for 2021, which is an increase of $121 over the 2020 municipal property tax bill of $2,904.

The municipal property tax is one component of a property owner’s total tax bill. The property tax bill includes funding for the East Windsor Regional School District and Mercer County government.

The $8.1 million budget for 2021 increased by $403,174 over the 2020 municipal budget. The amount to be raised by taxes went up by $251,112 – from $5.3 million to $5.5 million.

Miscellaneous revenues will generate an additional $1.3 million. This includes $7,500 for liquor licenses and $9,000 for other licenses.

Miscellaneous revenue also includes $21,000 in fees and permits; $160,000 in Municipal Court costs and fines; $65,000 for the lease of a Hightstown Borough-owned property for a cell tower; and $56,700 in interest on property taxes and $25,000 in interest on investments.

Miscellaneous revenue also included assorted grants and the annual $23,000 gift from The Peddie School. It also includes state aid, which remains flat at $503,550.

The spending plan also anticipates using $975,000 in surplus funds as a source of revenue.

Turning to the expenditure side of the budget, the Public Safety Department constitutes the single largest budgetary line item. The 2021 budget earmarks $1.8 million for the department.

The 2021 municipal budget also calls for spending $837,266 for the Public Works Department, which is the second largest budgetary line item.

The spending plan earmarks $510,000 for the reserve for uncollected taxes.

Hightstown Borough serves as the tax collector for property taxes levied by the East Windsor Regional School District and Mercer County government to help support their respective budgets. Hightstown is obligated to pay out what is owed to the school district and county government, and then “pays” itself.

Since municipalities rarely collect 100% of all property taxes, the municipal budget has a line item – the reserve for uncollected taxes – built into it to ensure that the school district and the county government receive all of the property taxes that are due to them.

Hightstown had a property tax collection rate of 97.1% in 2020.

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