Hopewell Township Committee discusses water utility budgets

The Hopewell Township Committee met on April 11 for a special budget meeting to further discuss the 2022 budget and approve resolutions.

After a roll call, Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning presented a resolution approving the developer’s construction agreement between Hopewell Township and Beigene Hopewell Urban Renewal, LLC.

“This agreement will allow the developers to start excavation on the project,” said George Synder, Director of Public Works. The resolution passed.

The next resolution presented by Peters-Manning was a resolution reestablishing the Hopewell Township Committee rules of procedure. “This is a change in our rules to allow for hybrid meetings,” Peters-Manning explained. The resolution was approved. Peters-Manning then turned the meeting over to Treasurer Julie Troutman to begin the budget discussion.

Troutman began the conversation with the water utility budgets. “A utility is based on rents of the users, not based on tax. So when we are looking at this, the revenues are based on rents received by the users,” she explained.

Troutman explained that there is an interest on deposit for the interest held in the bank accounts for the water utility. There also is a piece that comes over from the current fund to support a debt service portion in the water utility; those revenues combined with surplus will help balance the 2022 budget.

In salary and wages, the overtime has increased because, since the Committee met last, there was a break in the water utility. “We have gone through some overtime already this year, so I had a need to increase the overtime budget,” said Troutman.

There also is a section for postage and printing that comes from the tax collector, who prints and mails all of the utilty bills.

A water systems project that was scheduled for 2021 was canceled and the Committee is working that into their 2022 budget as well. The project has a budget of $85,000, which is to replace pipes that are found inside of the pump house. “Several years ago there was a small break, we made repairs for a temporary break and we had an inspection of the system done,” said Synder.

“So if we’re comparing the 2021 budget to 2022, the appropriate total number is $157,000 because that was before the cancellation of appropriations, so then [the 2022 budget] is an increase of roughly $11,000, and it looks like about half of that is due to salaries, wages, and overtime,” Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger clarified. 

Troutman then mentioned the statutory payments due: “we would have debt service, social security payments on the salary wages, and a contribution to the pension for the staff in that utility for a total of $10,550, but the all in budget for the water utility is $178,975,” said Troutman.

Ruger pointed out that the operating supply line budget for 2021 was $13,521. “We underspent that by almost $10,000, but we have the same $13,500 for 2022. Is that appropriate to have at that level, or can it be lower?,” Ruger asked. 

“We budgeted for several tools last year that we did not purchase, but we plan on purchasing them this year and they are only unique to the water system,” Synder explained.

Looking at the revenue page and the all in total of $178,975, the revenues that the Township is collecting to support that is $74,715, with a surplus of $10,426 — which is officials indicated is required to manage this budget.

“The balance in the surplus is $230,487, but we’re taking out $85,000 for the project, so the remaining surplus as of January 1 is $205,816,” said Committee member Kevin Kuchinski.

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