Tax bills drop 2% for Township residents 

Hopewell Township homeowners may be paying more for gas and groceries this year, but they will be paying less in property taxes.

A 2% decrease in residential property taxes – the first in 15 years – means that the owner of a home with an assessed value of $500,000 will pay $330 less in taxes. The decrease is due mainly to the growth of “ratables,” the share of property tax paid by commercial taxpayers.

“This is definitely good news,” Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning said. “It doesn’t happen magically or overnight. It’s been a lot of hard work along the way.”

A major component of the decrease was attracting new tenants to the former Bristol Meyers Squibb campus on Rocky-Hill Pennington Road. PTC Therapeutics was first, followed by the biotech company BeiGene, which chose the site as its U.S. operations base in large part because of incentives offered by the Township. Also, three of the four commercial office pods at the former Merrill Lynch campus on Scotch Road have been repopulated.

“We have long-range plans to continue this trajectory by continuing to reduce debt, finding new sources of municipal revenue like PILOT agreements and cannabis taxation, and continuing to attract new ratables to the Township,” Peters-Manning said.

Cannabis growers and retailers would be a boon to the Township, not just for the commercial property taxes they pay, but also for the 2% tax on gross revenues. The Township tax levy will also benefit from PILOTS – payments in lieu of taxes – from housing developers at sites south of Washington Crossing-Pennington Road, including the 1,077-unit Hopewell Parc project on Scotch Road and the 379-unit Collection at Hopewell at the intersection of Route 31, Peters-Manning explained.

Those developments will continue to shift the mix in property tax assessments away from residential toward commercial properties.  “When commercial entities pay an increasing portion of the total levy, even if the levy increases, the tax rate goes down, and residents pay less in taxes,” Peters-Manning said. “That is what happened this year.”

Tax bills were mailed to homeowners at the end of July.

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