The tax rate will remain stable for Hopewell Township property owners following the Township Committee’s adoption of a $25.2 million municipal budget for 2022.
Committee members voted unanimously to adopt the budget that funds municipal operation in 2022 at the governing body’s May 16 meeting.
Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning, Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger, Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski, Committeewoman Uma Purandare, and Committeeman David Chait vote “yes” to approve the budget.
“I look at the budget and what I like about this is that this is very realistic and not based on theoretical receipts the township may get, but on real numbers. I particularly like the fact that over the past few years we continue to reduce our debt,” Ruger said. “Does not matter how the debt got there, the fact is that it needs to be paid. Having the right mix of paying debt and making sure that residents’ tax burden is reasonable, I think we ended in a good place.”
Hopewell Township’s municipal appropriations are projected to be $25.2 million in 2022. Residential and commercial property owners support the appropriations through a tax levy.
The tax levy is slightly increasing from $16.67 million in 2021 to $17 million for the 2022 budget.
“The tax rate this year is essentially flat over the 2021 rate, while the tax levy is under the 2010 levy cap with a municipal levy increase over this year of 1.98%,” said Julie Troutman, chief financial officer (CFO) for the township.
The 2022 adopted budget includes a relatively stable municipal tax rate. The 2022 tax rate is 43.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. In 2022, the owner of an average home still assessed at $484,577 will pay $2,122 in municipal taxes.
The 2021 municipal tax rate was 43.7 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. In 2021, the owner of an average home assessed at $484,577 paid $2,117 in municipal taxes.
Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes Hopewell Valley Regional School District taxes and Mercer County taxes.
The amount an individual pays in taxes is determined by the assessed value of his or her home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.
For revenues in the 2022 budget, Hopewell Township will use $1.31 million from the surplus as revenue in the budget. The use of surplus as revenue has decreased from the 2021 budget, when officials used $1.73 million from the surplus funds as revenue in the budget.
Other revenues in the 2022 budget include $1.63 million in state aid, which remains the same amount of aid received in 2021; $1.11 million from delinquent taxes; and $927,000 in American Rescue Plan Funding.
“Our interest and operations still have not recovered from pre-pandemic years. We are still trying to get back up on these operational revenues,” Troutman said.
On the appropriations side of the budget, the budget will fund appropriations that include $6 million on municipal debt service. In 2021, Hopewell Township appropriated $6.32 million towards municipal debt service.
“Overall we have had our ups and downs with our increases and decreases with expenses this year. A couple things that are notable is the cost of our benefits have increased,” Troutman said. “That is due to both medical premium increases, as well as a modest increase in township staffing. Both our police line and general government line have increased slightly; that is due partially instead of capitalizing some of our expenses we have put them into our operating budget this year.”
According to the budget presentation, additional appropriations include $5 million towards benefits, $3.84 million for the police department, $2.95 million for general government, $1.93 million towards streets and roads, $584,369 towards shared service agreements, $358,000 on legal services and $258,000 towards capital improvements.
“One of the things we have identified is an opportunity to explore other non-tax revenue sources to assistance in supporting the cost of operations,” Kuchinski said. “What I propose is that we begin that effort as soon as the 2022 budget process is completed. There are a number of areas department heads have come forward and looked at where there are opportunities on the revenue side.”