Township's Budget Is $29.8 Million
Princeton Township Committee unanimously adopted its 2005 operating budget Monday night, marking a six-and-a-half-cent hike over the municipality's 2004 tax rate.
Total expenditures, however, came in approximately $400,000 under the 2004 amount, according to Kathryn Shaddow, the Township's chief financial officer.
The budget calls for revenues and appropriations of about $29.8 million, and of that, about $16.2 million needs to be raised by local purpose tax, thus driving the municipal tax rate up to 68.5 cents. As such, the average Township homeowner living in a home valued at $418,907 will pay $2,864 in municipal taxes this year, up $290 from 2004, resulting in about 69 cents to every $100 of assessed property value
Ms. Shaddow said one of the largest increases in this year's budget is debt service, which contributed about three cents to the increase.
The six-and-a-half-cent hike is commensurate with increases in other Mercer County municipalities, said Township Administrator James Pascale when the budget was first introduced on March 4. While about $3.5 million in surplus could have been used to trim this year's increase, Ms. Shaddow said the municipality would be better served spending those funds over the course of several years.
The Township is now required to send the budget to the state for review. However, once the budget has been adopted, it is effective immediately, Ms. Shaddow said.
While the vote was unanimous, Committee did not seem to be particularly enthusiastic about passing a budget with a significant tax rate increase. Deputy Mayor Bernie Miller said that future budgetary forecasts are "unacceptable," and that the Township is functioning beyond its fiscal needs.
"We're facing a pretty severe financial problem," he said, adding that as it stands, the Township faces a 19.24 percent tax hike next year, and a 16.47 percent increase in 2007.
Mr. Miller pointed out, however, that the budget established this year had been designed in part to add the surplus so that it could be used to offset severe increases in years to come.
"For that reason, I reluctantly support the 2005 budget," he said, adding that state and federal funding to municipalities has declined in recent years, sending tax rate increases into the double digits.
Committeeman Bill Enslin agreed, saying the budget needs to be viewed in the context of "several years."