Princeton Council introduces 2022 budget with first increase in two years


Princeton property owners will see a 1-cent increase in the municipal property tax rate – the first increase in two years – under the $68.2 million municipal budget for 2022 that was introduced by the Princeton Council at its March 14 meeting.

A public hearing and final action on the proposed spending plan has been set for the Princeton Council’s April 11 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.

The municipal property tax rate will increase from 50 cents per $100 of assessed value to 51 cents. The owner of a house assessed at the town average of $844,781 will pay $4,308 in municipal property taxes, or $97 more than the 2021 municipal property tax.

A house assessed at $500,000 would pay $2,550 in municipal property taxes and a house assessed at $1.2 million would pay $6,120 in municipal property taxes to support the 2022 municipal budget.

A Princeton property owner’s tax bill includes the municipal property, library and open space taxes, the school district property tax and the Mercer County property and open space taxes.

Property taxes are levied on residential and non-residential properties with the exception of those that are tax-exempt under law. Tax-exempt properties include governmental and educational facilities, as well as religious-affiliated properties.

Princeton Councilwoman Michelle Pirone-Lambros said the Princeton Council held to a zero tax rate increase during the two years that the town was battling the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a significant decline in municipal revenues.

“We had to dip into surplus. We were fortunate to receive federal funds through the American Rescue Plan, which allowed us to not increase municipal property taxes,” Pirone Lambros said.

“We feel now that we are recovering (from the pandemic) and yet have not recovered all of our pre-COVID-19 non-tax revenues, that this increase will allow us to replenish our surplus and also cover the additional expenses our growing town is incurring,” Pirone Lambros said.

The main source of revenue to support the spending plan is property taxes. The amount to be raised by property taxes to support the 2022 budget is $36.6 million.

The 2022 municipal budget anticipates using $9 million in surplus fund as a source of revenue. The surplus account was $16.8 million on Dec. 31, 2021.

Miscellaneous revenue totals $21.5 million. This includes revenue from licenses, fees and permits, municipal court fines and costs, and the hotel and motel tax.

The town expects to generate $55,000 in licenses for alcoholic beverages and $350,000 in fees and permits. Municipal court revenue is expected to be $550,000, and the hotel and motel tax will generate $50,000.

Princeton University will contribute $3.7 million as its fair share toward the budget. It will contribute an additional $150,000 to help support the Princeton Fire Department’s paid firefighters.

Payments in lieu of taxes from the Institute for Advanced Study amounts to $250,000. The Tenacre Foundation will contribute $500,000.

Additional payments in lieu of taxes include $350,000 from Princeton Community Village and $100,000 from Elm Court.

Princeton will receive $2.4 million in state aid as a source of revenue.

On the expenditure side of the budget, $7.7 million has been allocated for the Princeton Police Department and $1.1 million for the Princeton Fire Department.

The budget also earmarks $4 million for the Department of Public Works, which includes Road Repair and Maintenance, Public Buildings and Grounds, and vehicle maintenance budgets.

Finally, $1.5 million is included in the budget for pension contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System and $2.2 million for the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System.