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Slight Tax Decrease In Proposed Township 2021 Budget

The Township Council introduced its proposed 2021 budget at its April 13 meeting.

Township property owners will see a slight decrease in the municipal portion of their 2021 property taxes under the $63.2 million budget introduced by the Township Council at its April 13 virtual meeting.

The $63,243,699.96 budget – which weighs in $274,513.76 less than the 2020 budget – is powered by a local tax levy of $35,136,502.

That’s the exact tax levy called for in every township budget since 2018, Township Manager Robert Vornlocker said at the meeting.

The tax rate per $100 of assessed valuation is also less than last year’s figure; from 33 cents per $100 to 32 cents per $100. That translates to a local tax bill – including what needs to be raised through the library tax – for the owner of a home assessed at the township average of $354,791 of $1,421.73, a $10.45 decrease from 2020’s $1,432.18.

“The Township Council’s main priority for Calendar Year 21 was to introduce a budget that was no higher than Calendar Year 20 and that did not cause any tax increase to township residents, and I am happy to say that has been accomplished,” Vornlocker said in his yearly budget statement.

Helping keep taxes down was an increased reliance on surplus, Vornlocker said.

In this year’s budget, the township used $8.5 million in surplus, up nearly $371,000 from the amount of surplus used in the 2020 budget.

Still, Vornlocker said, there is more than $17 million left in the surplus fund.

“We’re OK right now financially,” he said.

Vornlocker said that other factors weighing on the budget include:

  • Increase in projected debt service Interest of approximately $1,017,864, due to last year’s bonding for the Youth Center and other capital improvements:
  • Increase of $360,777 in pensions and Social Security 
  • Decrease in Salary & Wages of $126,822 primarily due to retirements of senior staff.
  • Slight decrease in Insurance – both liability and health insurance
  • No increase to utility costs
  • Decrease in Capital Improvement Fund of $(1,942,507)

Vornlocker said the township has seen a decrease in some revenue, including in hotel taxes, various fees and licenses and interest on deposits.

“Township management worked hard to maintain a tight control on expenses, with the exception of COVID-19 renovations to our buildings and PPE, but we did benefit from some one-time income like COVID Cares and FEMA relief, and grants,” Vornlocker said. “Work continued, as much as the COVID restrictions allowed, on previously approved capital projects, including the new Franklin Township Youth Center, road resurfacing, park improvements and building interconnects between township water mains to improve water availability and decrease water costs.” 

Vornlocker said the only increase in the township’s tax levy is due to the state-mandated amount due the library through the library tax, which is about $3.8 million, up more than $213,000 from the 2020 amount.

“There’s a lot of question as to where the things we’re going through right now will take us as we go through ’21 and ’22,” Vornlocker said. “The federal government with the relief act is recognizing we will have impacts that will last to 2024.”

Vornlocker credited the budget decrease to “the fiscal responsibility of our governing body … and our employees” that has “put us in a financial position where we should weather the storm.”

Mayor Phil Kramer said that the Council “in the beginning of the year did state quite plainly that this is a hard year for our citizens, and we did not want their taxes raised by the Council, the council only controls about 15 percent of your total property tax, but we want to do our part in that 15 percent.”

“We can’t promise you want the county will do or what the schools will do … but we have stuck to our guns and kept that money down,” he said. “There’s actually a decrease in the amount people will pay to the township.”

Kramer warned that eventually, there will come a reckoning.

“We can’t keep saying ‘no;’ eventually taxes will go up, but we are doing our best to not put more stress on you during these stressful times,” he said.

The full budget will be available on the township Finance Department’s web site beginning on April 14, Vornlocker said.

The budget’s public hearing and final adoption is set for the Council’s May 11 meeting.

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