FRANCONIA — Township property taxes will increase 2.6 percent under the proposed 2020 budget unveiled at Franconia Township Board of Supervisors work session preceding the board's Nov. 18 regular business meeting. 

"The goal of this budget remains clear, to provide outstanding local government services at a reasonable tax rate," Township Manager Jon Hammer said in a statement accompanying the budget presentation. "Once again, for 2020, I think we have achieved that goal." 

Another three large parcels of land, totaling more than 100 acres, were added to the open space in the township this year, he said. 

"These three parcels add to over 1,000 other preserved acres, making Franconia Township a leader in open space preservation in southeastern Pennsylvania, with more to come," he said.

The township has also enacted a new Natural Resource Protection ordinance, updated its website, and this year started a new Fall Fest, he said. 

"We continue to invest in infrastructure — items you may not necessarily see or take notice of — but rest assured we continue to invest. Stormwater management, road paving, traffic signalization, roofs and HVAC on township facilities are items we consider important," Hammer said.

The township is also budgeting for new police vehicles and technology, including new upgraded mobile computers for police vehicles, he said. 

"Franconia Township continues to be recognized as one of the safest communities in the commonwealth and I know we are all very proud of our police officers and continue to pray for their safety," he said. 

The overall financial condition of the township remains strong and Franconia's real estate tax rate remains low compared to that in surrounding municipalities, he said. 

The 2020 budget includes upgrades to the heating and cooling systems in both the police station and township building, the addition of two part-time police officers, new mobile data terminals for police vehicles, park upgrades including trail improvements, and an aggressive paving and road maintenance schedule, he said.

The proposed new property tax rate is 2.03 mills, including 1.55 mills for the general fund, 0.15 mills for the fire tax, and 0.33 mills for the library tax. The fire tax and library tax portions remain the same as this year, with the increase going to the general fund. 

For a home assessed at $166,000, which Hammer said last year was the average home assessment in the municipality, the township property tax bill would be $336.98. Each mill equals $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed property value. 

"I think the secret is out about Franconia Township. Low taxes, low crime, outstanding parks, and a commitment to preserving open space and farms — Franconia Township is truly a wonderful place to live, work, and play," Hammer said.

The final vote on the proposed budget is scheduled for the board's Dec. 16 meeting.   

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