Home » Pennington Council announces tax increase, town improvements

Pennington Council announces tax increase, town improvements

by Lynn S. Robbins

Mayor James Davy and Council members discussed the municipal budget, general health and emergency medical services, and park renovations at the March 6 Borough Council meeting.

Budget: The Borough has proposed a 4 cent property tax increase per $100 of assessed property value. Chief Financial Officer Sandra Webb reviewed the budget overview dated February 28, 2023 and discussed reasons for the increase. The budget for 2023 is $4,435,330, an increase of slightly over $300, 000 from the 2022 budget which was $4,135,322.

The overview shows that an average tax bill for a home assessed at $487,462 would be $2,632, an increase of about $195.

Expenditure increases that impacted the new budget include engineering expenses, police salary and wages, insurance, gasoline and diesel, pensions, Medicare reimbursements, library expenses, and first aid. In general, inflation has been a factor. Other impacts on the budget include decreases in some revenues.

Interim Borough Administrator Donato Nieman said the Borough has looked at alternatives to reduce costs. Council members expressed consternation over raising taxes but acknowledged that the Borough must comply with state mandates and meet the increased costs of doing business. “This is a prudent budget not just for 2023, but looking forward to 2024, so you’re not in a dire situation requiring you to make very difficult decisions,” Nieman said.

The public is invited to a hearing on the budget at the Borough Council meeting, April 3, 7pm. The budget overview can be accessed on the Borough website here.

Health and Emergency First Aid: Pennington and Hopewell Borough residents will receive public health office services from Hopewell Township as of April 1. This date marks the formal transition of services that were previously provided by Montgomery Township. In a phone call to MercerMe, the Township’s health officer, Dawn Marling, said she is sending announcements to residents and is looking forward to serving the boroughs.

Davy confirmed that ambulance services (EMS) are now being provided to Pennington residents by the Hopewell Township Fire District, replacing services that had been supplied by the Pennington First Aid Squad which ceased operation March 1. Davy said this inter-local agreement is in effect through April 3, 2024.

The future of the building formerly used by the first aid squad also was addressed at the meeting. The Pennington Fire Company has requested use of the building when it becomes available. Council members Kit Chandler, Kate Angarone, John Valenza, and a local real estate agent will be working on a plan for the property.

Sked Street Park Improvements: Council member Chico Marciante said he and the Parks & Recreation Commission have developed a final plan and are now seeking a general nod from Council that they are working in the right direction. The project, funded by the Open Space Fund, includes installing a gazebo, removing dying trees, replacing equipment in need of repairs, and replacing the walking path.

Hopewell Valley Senior Center: Davy shared that the Pennington Borough was awarded $7,000 in Community Investment Initiative funds from Mercer County. This amount, along with money awarded to Hopewell Borough and the Township will be used to support the new senior center.

Train Safety: With news of the Ohio train derailment in mind, Davy said he plans to invite the Hopewell Valley emergency management coordinator and the Pennington Borough chief of police to a Council meeting to discuss Pennington’s emergency plans in the event of a train accident. Council member Kate Angarone said that New Jersey has dealt with train derailments in the past, and the State has a robust emergency management protocol.

Purchasing Decisions: Council members discussed how they choose companies that provide goods and services to the Borough. Proven past performance, quality of work, American made, local businesses, and price were given as factors for making decisions. Council member Nadine Stern stressed that diversity needs to be considered and that underrepresented groups should get a fair shake.

Summary of other business: The Water Resources Management team reported that it has found and repaired leaking pipes, and that the lead inventory is on schedule. The Environmental Commission’s carbon neutral group is working on reducing CO2 emissions. Parks & Recreation announced a job opening on the Recreation Committee. The Council announced that a Street Scape public information session is set for March 28. Stern encouraged residents to use e-alerts which are now being used by over 800 people to keep abreast of Borough news and announcements.

The next regular Borough Council meeting is scheduled for April 3.

Edited 3/26 at 8:02pm to clarify Nadine Stern’s position with the Council.

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