While we have several more weeks before the Township Budget is formally introduced, I wanted to share an update on where we stand and outline key focus areas as we move ahead.
Over the past five years, we have worked together to hold the line on spending. Hopewell Township now enjoys the lowest equalized municipal tax rate in Mercer County and we have significantly reduced the rate of tax increases vs. the 6.3% average increase you endured from 2013-15.
This year, the Committee has once again zero-based the budget, going through it line-by-line and challenging whether there was a better way to deliver the services residents expect for less. We have cut unnecessary spending across departments, while bringing back valuable Township services like Bulky Waste, restoring our Public Works fleet, and expanding Recreation staffing and offerings. Our 2020 Budget will deliver lower total spending vs. 2015.
Importantly this year, we are also continuing our multi-year initiative to lower Township debt and reduce the associated interest and principal payments. Since joining the Committee in 2015, we have cumulatively reduced debt by over 20%, and Hopewell Township enjoys S&P’s highest AAA rating. This ensures that we receive the lowest possible interest rates on our bonds and minimizes debt service costs.
Over the month ahead, we will be working closely with each Department Head to identify new revenue sources that reduce our dependence on residential property taxes and diversify our tax base. This is critical as BMS prepares to vacate its Hopewell Campus later this year.
We are also continuing to explore the potential for new shared services, both with neighboring municipalities and our school district. Prior year efforts have cumulatively saved Township residents over $2 million dollars.
Looking ahead, I want to assure you that we will continue our fight for more effective and efficient government. I welcome your ideas and thank you for your continued support!
Submitted by Kevin D. Kuchinski, Hopewell Township Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 439-8044
Note: this letter reflects Kevin Kuchinski’s individual views and is not an official statement of the Township Committee