Falls Adopts Budget, Maintains 1992 Rate
While the costs of everything have risen over the last 28 years, the fiscally responsible Falls Township Supervisors have, once again, maintained the current municipal tax rate, which last increased in 1992.
The governing body adopted its 2020 spending plan on Tuesday.
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, increased expenses and cost of living hikes, the Supervisors’ spending plan holds the line on taxes, with $32.7 million projected to be spent in 2020, a decrease of more than $1 million as compared to the 2019 budget.
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 will continue paying $216.60 for an average assessment of $30,000 under the township’s 2020 budget. The owner of the average Bristol Township property, by comparison, pays $1,036.40 in local taxes.
Even with holding the line on taxes for the 28th year in a row, Fallsington Library will receive an additional $30,000 in 2020 – $75,000 instead of $45,000 – as a result of savings Falls realized after switching from traditional streetlights to LED lights. At the November meeting, Supervisor Jeff Boraski had noticed additional funds in the streetlight fund and asked about the possibility of funds being reallocated to the library.
Supervisors Chairman Bob Harvie said the library had not seen an increase in tax funds in “almost 30 years” and said the additional $30,000 would help with staffing.
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 3.6 percent - less than 4 cents per every dollar - while Pennsbury School District collects 84 percent and Bucks County receives more than 12 percent.
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. Falls is projecting $2.8 million in 2020 pension costs, with $2.1 million being covered by the township.
Even with a flat municipal tax rate, Falls Supervisors are planning several projects for 2020, including the continuation of the Falls Township annual road program. Road improvements budgeted at $3.9 million are planned for Simons Drive, Gilbert Drive and Elbow Lane. In addition, in-house milling and overlay work is planned for Centre Street and Von Hoffman Park.
Falls has also applied for a PennDOT Green Light Go grant, which, if approved, would provide 80 percent of the roughly $300,000 cost of signalization, signage and crosswalk improvements for North Olds Boulevard and Trenton Road.
The budget also earmarks approximately $100,000 for a new playground and wheelchair accessible ramp to replace the 21-year-old play apparatus at Kirby Park.
In terms of beautification, the budget includes $85,000 for tree trimming and removal of trees infested by the highly destructive and invasive Emerald Ash Borer.