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Sunday, April 21, 2024

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Lower Mayor Wants to Reduce 2.5-Cent Tax Rate Increase

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By Christopher South

VILLAS – Lower Township Council introduced the 2023 budget with a 2.5-cent tax rate increase, but Mayor Frank Sippel said he would like to see it reduced.
“The 2.5 cents is not cut in stone,” Sippel said. “I’m confident we can bring it down.”
In presenting the budget to the council, Township Manager Mike Laffey said insurance costs, utilities and pension contributions were the major contributors to the tax rate increase.
At the same time, the township’s total revenue is down by $81,000, and appropriations are down $201,000.
The 2023 municipal budget is $32,273,808, of which $23,134,276 will be raised by the local purpose tax, reflecting an increase of $1,114,646.
In order to cover the increase, the local tax rate will increase from 0.5960 per $100 of assessed value to 0.6214. The owner of a $300,000 home would pay an additional $76.20 per year in local taxes. The local purpose tax does not include county, school, or fire district taxes.
According to a budget summary sheet prepared by the Ford, Scott & Associates accounting firm, state and federal grants are nearly $1.97 million less than 2022, a nearly 95% decrease.
The township’s current tax collection rate is 99.25%, a 0.13% drop from 2022, and the township anticipates collecting about $10,000 less in 2023. Delinquent tax is expressed as revenue in the budget. The township is adding $187,572 to its reserve for uncollected taxes.
Lower Township’s surplus will drop by $219,230, and it will apply $300,000 less to funding the 2023 budget. The remaining balance will be about $4.2 million.
The township will appropriate about $105,000 less for statutory and deferred charges. Statutory charges refer to dollars the township is required to spend, including Social Security payments, fire and police pensions, payments into the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and unemployment.
Deferred charges include money raised in the budget to pay for capital projects. The township paid off a capital project from 2010 and is now paying on a capital project from 2013, which is a lower amount. According to Laffey’s report, $1,065,000 is being used to pay down unfunded capital debt.
A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 1 at 5 p.m.
Council meetings will continue to be scheduled for 5 p.m. from May 1 through the summer.   
Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

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