Township Council introduces budget with flat tax rate

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There will be no increase in municipal property taxes from 2023, under a $60.7 million municipal budget introduced by the Lawrence Township Council at its March 5 meeting.

The municipal property tax rate will remain flat at 65 cents per $100 of assessed value. The owner of a home assessed at the township average of $284,792 would pay $2,851.14 – the same as in 2023.

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A public hearing on the proposed 2024 budget is set for April 2.

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

The spending plan was introduced unanimously. Prior to the vote, Councilman John Ryan sought to table the budget introduction because he said it was incomplete. It did not include a list of jobs, job descriptions and salaries for municipal employees, he said.

Prior to the introduction, Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski said the administration previously – on a repeated basis – asked council members if they had questions about the budget.

Since no one responded, Nerwinski said he assumed the budget was ready for introduction and would be on schedule for a public hearing in April.

Nerwinski said although the information that Ryan sought had been included in information on the budget given to council members, he agreed he would provide the information again on the following day. The council does not have the authority to hire or fire employees, he noted.

At that point, the council approved the introduction of the 2024 municipal budget.

The main source of revenue to support the municipal budget is property taxes. The amount to be raised by property taxes is $30.7 million.

The 2024 budget also anticipates using $8.3 million in surplus funds as a source of revenue. Lawrence Township had $20.6 million in surplus funds on Dec. 31, 2023.

Miscellaneous revenue totals $20.8 million. It includes revenue from licenses, fees and permits, the hotel and motel tax and cable TV franchise fees.

Lawrence Township also expects to generate $43,000 in alcoholic beverage licenses and $150,000 in fees and permits.

The hotel and motel tax is expected to generate $250,000, and the cable TV franchise fees are expected to be $269,000.

A 2% local sales tax on cannabis sales will generate $900,000.

The township will receive $4.4 million in state aid.

On the expenditure side, $8.2 million has been allocated for the Lawrence Township Police Department, and $780,000 for Lawrence Township fire services, which includes paid firefighters.

Also, $950,000 has been earmarked for the Lawrence Township Emergency Medical Services.

The budget sets aside $3.7 million for the Department of Public Works, which is made up of the Streets and Roads Division, the Building and Grounds Division and the Park Maintenance Division.

Contributions to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) is $1.2 million, and $2.2 million to the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS).

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