Princeton University increases voluntary payment towards municipal budget

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Health care premiums and trash collection remain main cost drivers 

Princeton property owners will see a three-cent increase in the municipal property tax rate, under a tweaked version of the proposed $72.1 million municipal budget for 2023 that was presented at the Princeton Council’s March 13 meeting.

The Princeton Council introduced the revised municipal budget at its April 10 meeting. A public hearing and final action on the budget is set for the Council’s April 24 meeting.

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The municipal property tax rate will increase from 46 cents per $100 of assessed value to 49 cents. The 2023 municipal budget had initially called for a five-cent increase.

The owner of a house assessed at the town average of $850,320 will pay $4,166 in municipal property taxes for 2023, or $255 more than last year.

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

The reduction from a five-cent increase to a 3-cent increase is mostly attributable to an increase in Princeton University’s voluntary contribution to the town, said Princeton Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros.

“In large part, it is (due to) Princeton University’s $5 million contribution. It is consistent with the conversations we have been having with the university (about a new voluntary payment),” Pirone Lambros said.

Princeton University previously was going to contribute $3.7 million as its fair share toward the town’s budget, plus an additional $150,000 to help support the Princeton Fire Department’s career firefighters.

Princeton Councilwoman Eve Niedergang said some of the main cost drivers in the budget increase are large increases in employee health care premiums and a significant increase in trash collection costs. Inflation also has taken its toll, she said.

“It is still a tax increase, which we don’t like to see, but it is still a lot less (than had been proposed),” Niedergang said.

The main source of revenue in the municipal budget is property taxes. The amount to be raised by property taxes is $38.1 million for 2023.

The budget calls for applying $8.7 million in surplus funds as a source of revenue.

Miscellaneous revenue is expected to generate $24.3 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. The hotel and motel tax will produce $300,000.

Payments in lieu of taxes from the Institute for Advanced Study amount 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 expense side, $9 million has been budgeted 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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