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Princeton Council introduces ‘worst case scenario’ for 2023 municipal budget

Princeton property owners will see a five-cent increase – a worst case scenario – in the municipal property tax rate under the proposed $72.4 million municipal budget for 2023.

The budget was introduced by the Princeton Council at its March 13 meeting. A public hearing and final action on the proposed budget will be held at the Council’s April 10 meeting.

The municipal property tax rate will increase from 46 cents per $100 of assessed value to 51 cents. The owner of a house assessed at the town average of $850,320 would pay $4,336 in municipal property taxes, or $399 more than last year.

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.

Princeton Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros said the budget increases were “really unavoidable this year because of economic drivers.”

Pirone Lambros pointed to increases in trash collection costs, health benefits and debt service. The cost of trash collection increased by approximately $800,000, and health benefits went up by $500,000.

“Tonight, what we are introducing is a worst case scenario (budget),” Pirone Lambros said. “It may be possible to move more money from the surplus account into the budget as a source of revenue, or maybe bring money over from the parking utility. It may even be possible to shave some more off the budget appropriation requests.

“All of this is still in the works,” she said.

The main source of revenue to support the spending plan is property taxes. The amount to be raised by property taxes is $39.6 million. This compares to $38.3 million for 2022.

Miscellaneous revenue is expected to generate $22.9 million. This includes revenue from licenses, fees and permits, municipal court costs and fines, and the hotel and motel tax.

The town expects to receive $60,000 in licenses for alcoholic beverages and $350,000 in fees and permits. Municipal Court revenue is expected to be about $700,000, and the hotel and motel tax will generate $300,000.

Princeton University will contribute $3.7 million as its fair share toward the budget, plus an additional $150,000 to help support the Princeton Fire Department’s career 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 $375,000 from Princeton Community Village and $100,000 from Elm Court.

Princeton will receive $2.4 million in state aid.

On the expenditure side, $9 million has been allocated for the Princeton Police Department and $1.9 million for the Princeton Fire Department.

The budget earmarks $5.5 million for the Department of Public Works, which includes road maintenance and repair, public buildings and grounds, vehicle maintenance and maintenance of sewerage facilities.

Finally, $2.4 million is included in the budget for pension contributions to the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System and $1.8 million for the Public Employees Retirement System.

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