Falls Introduces Budget, Plans to Maintain 1992 Rate
While the costs of everything have risen over the last 29 years, the fiscally responsible Falls Township Supervisors are once again looking to hold the line on municipal taxes, which last increased in 1992.
The governing body introduced its 2021 spending plan on Monday.
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, as introduced, holds the line on taxes, with $36.4 million projected to be spent in 2021.
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.
If the spending plan is adopted as proposed, property owners would continue paying $216.60 for an average assessment of $30,000 under the township’s 2021 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. In response to a resident who has suggested for several years that the Supervisors institute an Earned Income Tax, Supervisor Jeff Rocco said the board had conducted a study in 2014 which determined that 40 percent of residents either paid an Earned Income Tax or a city wage.
Adding the tax “didn’t seem fair,” Rocco said, adding that he would like to see the board plan for a study to “see where we’re at” and possibly add an EIT sometime in the future.
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 83.9 percent and Bucks County receives 12.5 percent.
Despite receiving 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. For 2021 state contributions are expected to decrease. Falls is projecting $3.1 million in 2021 pension costs, with $2.4 million being covered by the township.
Even with a flat municipal tax rate, Falls Supervisors are planning several projects for 2021, including the continuation of the Falls Township annual road program. Falls is planning the full-depth reconstruction of Willow Drive.
In addition, intersection improvements are planned for North Olds Boulevard and Trenton Road. Falls had budgeted $50,325 for the project. PennDOT will fund 80 percent of the project cost through a grant.
Falls will also finish adaptive traffic signal upgrades at Lincoln Highway, Tyburn Road and West Trenton Road.
The proposed spending plan also earmarks $150,000 for tree trimming and removal of trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer and Spotted Lanternfly.
The Falls Supervisors will adopt the 2021 budget during the Dec. 21 meeting.