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Public hearing June 17 on Hightstown Borough budget

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The Hightstown Borough Council plans to hold a public hearing and take action on its proposed $7.7 million budget at its June 17 meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to start  at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Hightstown Engine Co. No. 1 firehouse.

The budget, which carries a 3-cent increase in the municipal property tax rate – from $1.29 per $100 of assessed value to $1.32 – was introduced at the Highstown Borough Council’s May 20 meeting.

The proposed 3-cent increase in the municipal property tax rate means the owner of a house assessed at the borough average of $213,073 will pay $80.97 more in municipal property taxes – from $2,748.64 in 2018 to $2,829.61 for 2019.

The proposed 2019 municipal budget of $7.7 million is $196,578 more than the 2018 municipal budget. Part of the increase is due to statutory 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 $5.07 million property tax levy for the 2018 budget.

The budget also anticipates using $825,000 in surplus funds as a revenue sources, plus $503,550 in state aid. Local revenues, shared services agreements and receipts from delinquent property taxes will generate an additional $891,356 in revenue.

Hightstown Borough Council members overall were pleased with the proposed 2019 municipal budget, despite the 3-cent increase in the municipal property tax rate.

Mayor Lawrence Quattrone and Borough Council President Steve Misiura agreed that no one likes an increase in the municipal property tax rate, but sometimes it has to be done.

The residents are getting “a lot” for their property taxes, Mayor Quattrone said, adding that all of the department heads work hard.

“I am comfortable with the budget,” Mayor Quattrone said.

Misiura said the 2019 budget was “the best we could do under the circumstances.” There were increases in some expenses over which the council had no control, he said. The department heads, meanwhile, were conscientious in keeping costs down.

Misiura said there will be a presentation on the budget at the June 17 public hearing to explain it. The more well-informed that the residents are, the more they will understand the pressures on the budget, he said.

Borough Councilmen Dimitri Musing and Lee Stults thanked Chief Financial Officer George Land and Deputy Chief Financial Officer Monica Patel for their work in preparing the proposed budget.

“I’m happy with the budget. I thank Borough Council for rolling up its sleeves (during the budget review process). The budget is cost effective and efficient,” Stults said.

Councilman Josh Jackson, who was appointed to Hightstown Borough Council earlier this year, said he learned a lot during the budget meetings. He said he is comfortable with the budget “where it sits.”

And Councilwoman Susan Bluth said she, too, was comfortable with the budget. During the budget review process, she said, she had requested some reductions. The staff cut as much as it could, she said.



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