HILLSBOROUGH: Township’s budget up for comment, vote

By Gene Robbins, Managing Editor
   Public comment is invited Tuesday night before the Township Committee votes on adoption of the year’s local government budget. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m.
   The Township Committee has introduced a $26.5 million budget that would spend 5.76 percent less — or more than $1.6 million — than 2011.
   The budget requires $17.2 million in local property taxes. The rate rises to 30.9 cents — up 0.7 cents from 2011 — for each $100 of assessed value. That’s an increase of $7 for each $100,000 of assessment.
   The budget stays just under the maximum two-percent tax increase allowed by the state.
   Spending for local government will be reduced to 2007 levels, but even that won’t avert a two-percent rise in property taxes. If passed, the budget would mean an increase of $26 for the “average” home, assessed at $370,000. That bill would go to $1,114 from 2011’s 1,118.
   Township Finance Officer Nancy Haberle said the township is feeling the effects of $1.4 million less state aid since 2007. Non-tax revenues — like code fees, court fines and interest — is also down.
   The township proposes to have one fewer employee in 2012, reducing the township work force to 149, compared to the 162 in 2008 — with no loss of services, the budget notes.
   The budget benefits by the negotiated increase requiring employees to pay for a portion of their health care premiums, as well as less interest by refinancing to pay down debt. Her presentation to the Township Committee showed a reduction of $570,000 in payments on bank anticipation notes, and $120,000 less on interest.
   Among many items, the township benefited by the lack of snow this winter, saving $109,000 in removal costs, as well as $82,000 projected savings from a merger of municipal court services with Montgomery Township.