Hightstown Borough residents will see a 3-cent increase in the municipal property tax rate under the town’s $7.7 million budget for 2019.
The budget was unanimously approved by the Hightstown Borough Council at its June 17 meeting.
The municipal property tax rate will increase from $1.29 per $100 of assessed value to $1.32 per $100 of assessed value.
This means the owner of a house assessed at the borough average of $213,073 will pay $80.97 more in municipal property taxes – up from $2,748.64 in 2018 to $2,829.651 for 2019. The municipal property tax is only part of the overall tax bill.
The $7.7 million municipal budget for 2019 is $196,578 more than the 2018 budget. Some of the increase is attributable to statutory (required) expenditures, and an increase in debt service.
The main source of revenue to support the spending plan is property taxes. The amount to be raised by property taxes is $5.22 million, which is a $156,346 increase over the property tax levy of $5.02 million last year.
Other sources of revenue include $825,000 in surplus funds, plus $503,550 in state aid. Local revenues, shared services agreements and receipts from delinquent property taxes make up an additional $891,356 in revenue.
While Hightstown Borough Mayor Lawrence Quattrone and the Hightstown Borough Council were satisfied with the 2019 municipal budget, Hightstown Engine Co. No. 1 firefighter Kevin Brink was not happy with it.
Brink said he had a “strong concern” about the fire department’s funding in the 2019 budget, and asked why no one had contacted the fire department to discuss it.
Hightstown Engine Co. No. 1 had requested $65,000, but only $50,000 was earmarked for it in the 2019 budget, Brink said. “We got zero for what we asked for,” he said.
The town and its residents benefit from having an all-volunteer fire department, and that if the town had to resort to a paid fire department, “it would bankrupt you,” Brink told Mayor Quattrone and Hightstown Borough Council.
Borough Council President Steve Misiura said the Borough Council discussed the requested increase, but decided to hold it to $50,000 – the same amount as in 2018, which in fact was an increase over the amount budgeted in 2017.
“We have to look at the budget as a whole. Taxes have gone up in the last three years,” Misiura said.
“Maybe we should have sat down (with the fire department),” Misiura said. He suggested that the fire department should send a representative to the budget meetings in the future.