Hillsborough Township Committee adopts $30.2M municipal budget for 2019

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The Hillsborough Township Committee has adopted a $30.2 million municipal budget for 2019 .

The action results in residential and commercial property owners to pay a total of $19.7 million in property taxes to support the spending plan.

Officials introduced the budget on June 11 and discussed the municipality’s expenditures and fiscal goals for 2019.

The budget was formally adopted at a July 9 meeting. Officials said the budget is aimed to reduce the tax rate and save homeowners $397,655 in taxpayer savings.

“As indicated during the introduction of the budget, this is the result of our team’s continued fiscal responsibility regarding municipal operations,” Mayor Frank DelCore said in a statement. “It is notable that the increase in the total ratable value for 2019 of $225 million, a 3.97% ratable increase, which therefore increases the tax base over which the tax levy is distributed, assists the overall reduction of the tax rate.”

The municipality’s finance team is comprised of DelCore, Committeeman Shawn Lipani, Township Administrator Anthony Ferrera and Chief Financial Officer Nancy Costa.

After holding a flat rate for three consecutive years, the 2018 municipal tax rate was reduced and again for 2019, there will be a reduction.

From 2015-17, officials said, the owner of a home assessed at $350,000 paid $1,155 a year in municipal taxes. The owner of a house at that same assessed value paid $1,137 in taxes for 2018.

In 2018, the municipal tax rate was reduced from 33 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 32.5 cents as a result of the annual reassessment program and the continued growth in the township; for 2019, the tax rate will be reduced another 0.5 cents to 32 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Under the adopted budget for 2019, residents with a home assessed at $350,000 would pay $1,120 in municipal taxes.

Officials said there will be allowable exceptions over the 2% tax levy cap, which for the 2019 budget could have added $397,655 to the tax levy, were not used in order to reduce the tax impact on property owners.

Available exceptions include pension obligation increases, deferred charges to future taxation and increase in debt service and capital improvement appropriations, according to officials.

Since the inception of the tax levy cap in 2011, municipal officials said they had $2.1 million in available exceptions, which could have been used to increase taxes above the 2% cap.

DelCore said the 2019 budget represents more than 13% of a homeowner’s tax bill. He said if municipal officials took advantage of the allowable exceptions and exceed the 2% tax levy cap, taxpayers would have incurred an additional $397,655 in taxes.

In terms of debt service, the township paid $1.45 million in 2018. The debt service for 2019 is $1.56 million.

“This budget is a direct result of the Township Committee’s commitment to continued fiscal responsibility; working efficiently while providing our taxpayers the same level of service excellence they expect and deserve,” DelCore said. “It has been the position of this Township Committee to take a fiscally prudent stand when dealing with the township’s finances.

“In addition, cost savings have been a part of the municipal employees’ annual goals and objectives. Their efforts are additionally realized in the results of this budget,” DelCore added.

Officials said they would continue a “Pay As You Go Program” for routine capital purchases and make payments on debt service greater than what is required, which is aimed to reduce the township’s debt.

Officials said they believe this practice would allow the township to maintain its AA+ bond rating. The budget includes money allocated for the capital improvement fund of $600,000, an increase of $30,000 for 2019, which is aimed to fund future capital ordinances.

Full budget documents can be found online at hillsborough-nj.org