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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Lower Reduces Tax Rate Increase for 2023

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By Christopher South

VILLAS – Lower Township Council passed its 2023 municipal budget with a slightly smaller tax rate increase than when introduced. 

The budget was introduced with a proposed tax rate increase of 2.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. Township Clerk/Deputy Manager Julie Picard read the budget message, which indicated the tax rate would now be 2.2 cents per $100.  

At 2.5 cents, the owners of a home valued at $250,000 would expect to pay an additional $62.50 this year. With a 2.2-cent tax rate increase, the owner of a $250,000 home would see taxes go up $55 in 2023. This is because the township is applying an additional $110,000 from its $8.4 million surplus toward the 2023 budget.   

The 2023 municipal budget, as introduced, was $32,273,808. The 2023 tax levy will raise $23,021,351 through local property taxes. The levy increase is a little over $1 million over 2022 taxes.  

The major contributors to an increased budget are insurance, particularly health insurance, utilities and pensions.  

According to municipal auditor Leon Costello, of Ford Scott & Associates, Lower Township has one of the smaller tax rate increases in the area, citing tax rate increases of up to 8.4 cents per $100 of assessed value elsewhere. 

“It’s been a mess everywhere,” Costello said, but assured Lower Township Council, “You are at the bottom of the increases.” 

Costello said Lower Township was able to stave off a larger tax rate increase by adding the 3% occupancy tax, which became effective earlier this year. The occupancy tax is projected to bring in $514,000 in new revenue.  

Costello said some communities might have a more difficult time with their 2024 budgets than in 2023, but not Lower Township.   

Picard read in the budget address that Lower Township’s 2022 collection rate was 99.25% – one of its highest ever. The budget is developed factoring a 97.41% tax collection rate to compute the reserve for uncollected taxes. 

The total assessed value of Lower Township properties is $3.7 billion, which is an increase of $22 million over 2022.   

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