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Home Hopewell Valley News Hopewell News Hopewell Township adopts 2024 budget with small tax increase

Hopewell Township adopts 2024 budget with small tax increase

Hopewell Township adopts 2024 budget with small tax increase

Property owners in Hopewell Township will experience a small tax increase after the Township Committee adopted a $27 million municipal budget for 2024.

The governing body adopted the budget on May 20.

“Our 2024 municipal tax rate will increase by less than a penny – .8 cents,” Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski said. “That is based on a couple factors – the town’s assessed value continues to increase, and we have been very disciplined from a spending standpoint.

“We can provide the services residents request and require without increasing the municipal tax rate beyond the two percent levy.”

The municipal tax rate with the small increase remains stable for the township.

The proposed municipal tax rate for the budget is 44.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The owner of an average home assessed at $491,000 will pay $2,175 in municipal taxes, an increase of $40 from 2023’s tax rate of 43.5 cents.

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.

Julie Troutman, the town’s chief financial officer (CFO), explained that there were a few factors that impacted the budget this year.

“Our debt payments are up just under $400,000 from the prior year,” she said. “The liability insurance is up, our pensions/medical insurance for our employees is up, our recycling with the county our shared service has had a dramatic increase over the prior year.

“Our reserve for uncollected taxes went up and that is based upon the amount of funds we put on reserve so that we are prepared for any unpaid taxes. Our department operations are down this year.”

Liability insurance increased by $47,000; pensions and medical insurance has increased by $168,000; recycling shared services increased by $226,000; reserve for uncollected taxes was increased by $392,000; and department operations decreased by $123,000.

On the revenue side, the budget was impacted by the $1.2 million decrease in the use of surplus; a $928,000 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding; an increase of $400,000 from PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes); a $443,000 increase on interest on investments; and a $1 million increase from receipts from delinquent taxes.

Hopewell Township’s municipal appropriations are expected to be $27 million, which is a $700,000 increase from the $26.3 million appropriated in 2023.

Residential and commercial property owners support the appropriations through a tax levy.

The tax levy is slightly increasing from $17.3 million in 2023 to $17.7 million this year.

The township will use $800,000 from the surplus as revenue in the budget.

Other revenues in the budget include $1.83 million in state aid; $1.8 million from delinquent taxes; $965,000 from interest; $850,000 from PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes); and $545,000 from operations.

On the appropriations side of the budget, the budget will fund appropriations that include $6.8 million on municipal debt service, which is increased by about $400,000 from 2023.

Additional appropriations include $5.4 million for benefits; $3.97 million toward public safety; $2.9 million towards general government; $2.5 million for public works; $1.6 million on reserve for uncollected taxes; $1.3 million towards shared service agreements; $601,000 toward grants; and $400,000 towards capital improvements, according to the budget presentation.

Highlighted in the 2024 budget was information on cannabis revenues. Hopewell Township, which has one cannabis retailer establishment – Pure Blossom – expects and has budgeted $30,000 in revenue from the cannabis retailer.

“They opened in December 2023. They pay a very small registration fee, but they also pay a two percent tax on all of the product that is sold at that facility,” Kuchinski noted. “So, we are budgeting in 2024 $30,000 based on the seventeen days they were in operation in 2023. [With those funds] we can give back to the community and fund stuff like the Municipal Alliance.”