The following is a letter from Hopewell Township mayor, Kevin Kuchinski:
You, the residents of Hopewell Township, charged us with getting spending under control, fighting for lower taxes and reducing Township debt, and I am proud that Hopewell Township’s 2017 Budget delivers on all three.
First, touching on spending. In 2017, our core operating budget, which excludes the direct purchase of capital items, fell by 1.1%. Over the past two years, the Committee has cumulatively reduced annual operating expenses by over $2 Million dollars. We are doing more with less across the Township, while restoring valuable services like Bulky Waste, rebuilding our Public Works fleet, and covering the increased costs of the unfunded state mandate on Affordable Housing. And our new partnership with the School District saved over $2 million dollars, which we are returning to you.
Once again, Hopewell Township will have the lowest municipal tax rate in Mercer County. Hopewell Township’s municipal tax rate this year is up 1.7%, which is below NJ’s 2% cap AND the rate of inflation. This is also a big improvement vs. the average 6.3% increases we endured from 2013-15.
Finally, on debt, we made significant inroads towards our multi-year plan to cut debt, reducing it by $6.1 million or almost 10% in 2017. This is important progress as the Township currently spends approximately $1.7 Million dollars per year on interest expenses. That’s money that adds to everyone’s tax burden without delivering any corresponding goods or services to Township residents.
This Committee has made hard decisions today so that in the future, residents will not still be paying for past years’ expenditures.
Looking ahead, I want to reassure you that we will continue our fight for more effective and efficient municipal government, and to make Hopewell Township more affordable. We will scour the budget for every dollar and review every expense before we spend your money.
Thank you for your continued support.
Kevin D. Kuchinski