Pennington Council introduces $4.5 million municipal budget

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As Pennington continues the municipal budget process, property owners are projected to have a 1-cent tax rate increase for 2024.

The Pennington Council voted to introduce a $4.5 million municipal budget to fund borough operations this year on March 4.

A public hearing for the 2024 municipal budget is scheduled for April 1 at 7 p.m.

In 2024, the municipal tax rate is projected to rise from 54 cents to 55 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of an average assessed home at $488,000 will pay $2,684 in municipal taxes, a $49 increase from 2023 municipal taxes.

Municipal taxes are one item on a property owner’s total tax bill, which also includes school taxes and Mercer County taxes.

The amount an individual pays in taxes is determined by the assessed value of a home and/or property, and the tax rate that is set by each taxing entity.

The Finance Committee, in its review of the budget, increased the money in the planning budget for the master plan to $19,000, according to Sandra Webb, Pennington’s chief financial officer.

“They have been making good strides ….” she said of the Finance Committee. “Areas in Need of Redevelopment ($10,000), we know that this will be money we eventually recoup but we have to lay out the money for the consultants to do some of this work.”

The Finance Committee made a number of reductions in the budget – the Shade Tree Committee budget by close to $12,000, engineering services and costs by $2,500, and utilities by $11,000. The committee also reduced the road repairs and maintenance budget and included it in the water and sewer and equipment repair section.

“… We were hit with a little over $40,000 increase for recycling by the Mercer County Improvement Authority, so that is a huge hit,” Webb said, noting it’s one of the biggest things that drives this year’s budget.

“Everyone in the county got hit with that.”

Additional budget drivers are an increase in police salary and wages for cost of living, which is a $15,000 increase this year; liability insurance; workers compensation; police and fireman’s retirement system; and library expenses, according to the budget presentation.

Revenue decreases include interest and costs in taxes by $4,000, receipts from delinquent taxes by $4,000, and American Rescue Plan funding by $17,000.

“The 1-cent tax increase is going to generate about another $57,000 for us,” Webb said.

Pennington’s municipal appropriations are expected to be $4.5 million for the year.

The borough’s residential and commercial owners support the municipal appropriations through a tax levy.

In 2024, the tax levy is projected to be $3.1 million, a $77,204 increase from what residential and commercial property owners paid in 2023.

On the revenues portion of the 2024 budget, Pennington plans to use $574,752 from surplus as revenue in the budget, and $85,000 is projected in uniform construction code fees. Other revenues include $61,000 in trash collection fees; $47,000 from the municipal court and $33,994 from Verizon and Comcast Franchise fee.

On the appropriations side, the budget is projected to fund $768,000 in police salaries and wages; $419,102 for pensions and social security; $393,000 for insurance; $330,000 for municipal debt service; $290,000 for streets and roads salary and wages; and $98,000 for utilities.