Falls Introduces Budget, Plans to Hold Taxes at 1992 Rate
While the costs of everything else have risen over the last 26 years – school and county taxes, among other expenses – Falls Township is planning, for the 26th year in a row, to maintain its current tax rate.
The last time Falls raised its municipal tax Bill Clinton was President, a gallon of gas cost $1.05 and the average cost of a new home was $122,500.
Even with a continually shrinking state contribution for pensions, increasing healthcare expenses and cost of living hikes, the fiscally responsible Falls Township Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to introduce its annual budget. If adopted as proposed, the 2019 spending plan would again hold the line on taxes, with $33.9 million projected to be spent in 2019.
Since 2014, Falls Township’s millage rate has been 7.22. The 7.22 mill tax rate represents the lowest tax millage rate the township has had since the 1992 budget was passed, according to Finance Director Betsy Reukauf.
Property owners would continue paying $216.60 for an average assessment of $30,000 under the township’s proposed 2018 budget. The owner of the average Bristol Township property, by comparison, pays $1,036.40 in local taxes.
Falls maintains its services – and offers trash and leaf pickup free of charge – without instituting an Earned Income Tax, as many other towns have done.
Of the local taxes collected from Falls Township property owners, the township receives less than 4 cents per every dollar while Pennsbury School District collects 84.1 percent and Bucks County receives more than 12 percent.
Supervisors Chairman Bob Harvie credited township staff, including Reukauf, with ensuring a smooth budget process and a spending plan without a tax increase.
Despite receiving only a small fraction of taxes collected throughout the township, Falls elected officials have worked hard to do more with less, year after year. Since 2012, the township has seen its pension obligation double from $1.3 million in 2012 to $2.6 million in 2017 all while the state contributions have remained relatively flat.
Even with a flat municipal tax rate, Falls Supervisors are planning several projects for 2019, including $2.8 million for construction and engineering as part of the annual road program. The spending plan also includes an in-house mill and overlay project for Gobles Court. Intersection improvements at Levittown and Mill Creek parkways; and West Trenton and Allendale avenues budgeted at $244,000 are planned as part of a PennDOT matching fund grant.
Continued tree trimming, and removal of the highly destructive and invasive emerald ash borer is planned for next year as well.
Upgrades, including a pavilion, are planned for Pinewood Pool. The budget also allots $101,000 to resurface and make additional improvements to the hockey rink at Falls Township Community Park.
Police vehicles, computer equipment and firearms purchases earmarked at $470,000 are also included in the 2019 budget.
The Public Works department is looking to replace three vehicles used for road work and snow plowing at an estimated cost of $198,093. An emergency generator with enough energy to power the municipal building in the event of a power outage is also included in the budget.
The proposed budget will be advertised on Nov. 26. From there, it will be available for public inspection and discussion through Dec. 18. The Falls Supervisors will consider adoption of the 2019 budget at the Dec. 18 Board of Supervisors meeting, which will be held at the municipal building, 188 Lincoln Highway in Fairless Hills, beginning at 7 p.m.