BEDMINSTER — The tax rate stays the same under the proposed 2021 budget, but there's a shift in what some of the funding is used for.
This year, the 7.5 mill property tax rate included four mills for the general fund, 2.5 mills for open space and one mill for the fire companies serving the municipality, Township Manager Rich Schilling said in a telephone interview.
After meeting with the fire and ambulance companies to discuss a request for additional funding, the Bedminster Township Board of Supervisors told the staff to come up with a way to provide another mill of funding for the emergency services, but do it without raising taxes, he said.
Ottsville, Plumsteadville and Dublin volunteer fire companies and Point Pleasant-Plumsteadville EMS serve the township, he said.
Next year's proposed budget keeps the 7.5 mills, but reallocates it to five mills for the general fund, 1.5 mills for open space and one mill for the fire companies, he said.
"In essence, we're gonna have a total of two mills that will go to the fire departments," Schilling said. "One is a one mill dedicated tax and one is from the general fund."
With the change, the proposed 2021 general fund budget includes a $116,991 contribution to the rescue organizations. The 2020 budget had a $4,000 contribution.
Bedminster officials are hoping to meet with neighboring municipalities to work out a long-term plan for supporting the rescue organizations, Schilling said.
Income for the proposed $3,000,227 general fund budget includes $575,960 from real estate taxes, $1,527,000 from earned income taxes and $150,000 from cable television franchise fees. Expenses include $1,130,595 for police/public safety, $297,635 for public works, $557,654 for employee benefits and insurance, and $173,890 for capital improvements.
"Our income remains steady. Covid has had a minimal impact. We believe that we're going to be around one to two percent plus or minus on our budget overall," Schilling said.
"Right now we're tracking higher than we were a year ago, but it's taken us this long to make that catch," he said. "Normally, by May or June, we're already surpassing where our income was. This year, it took all the way up to October."
The cost of health insurance premiums decreases next year, he said. The budget includes plans to add a foyer to the township administrative offices on Elephant Road, a new copier for the township office; a new police car; a small dump truck with a plow and spreader for the public works department; and a new roadside mower for public works, he said.
The township continues to hold the line on spending, he said.
"All the capital projects for this year pretty much got deferred," Schilling said, "and then maybe even reduced a little bit just to be cautious on where we're at with the economy."
The final vote on the budget will be in December.
In another matter, Schilling said the Nov. 11 Bedminster Township Board of Supervisors meeting included repealing the township's grading ordinance, which has been replaced by a new stormwater ordinance.
Applications that have already been filed under the grading ordinance are grandfathered and will continue to be under that ordinance, he said.
The township is also working on making rules for stormwater control for swimming pools on lots that are less than an acre, he said.
"When people put in swimming pools, there could be some drainage issues, so we're looking at how to regulate those," Schilling said.