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No tax increase for Hampton next year

| Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Hampton Township officials unveil the preliminary budget for 2018, which shows no tax hike.
Hampton Township officials unveil the preliminary budget for 2018, which shows no tax hike.

There will be no tax increase for Hampton Township residents per the preliminary budget for 2018.

The preliminary budget expenditures for the general operating fund is $14,350,479 and its projected revenue is $14,406,300. The preliminary budget expenditures for the capital improvement fund is $1,817,100 and the revenue is $1,819,100, according to Chris Lochner, municipal manager for the township.

“The budget is balanced on both sides with the revenue slightly higher,” said Lochner.

Council will have an additional budget workshop in November to review it once again, where Lochner said they will probably have more adjustments, most likely favoring the revenue side.

A public hearing on the budget will be held on Dec. 13, which will then be voted upon at that night's meeting.

Taxes are once again staying the same, in fact lower, than in previous years, according to Victor Son, president of council.

“Since 2009, there have been, in fact, decreases in the general fund tax millage rates, reduced 11.85 percent since 2012,” said Son.

From 2009 to 2014, the millage rates stayed the same at 2.245, according to Son. From 2013 to 2015, they reduced to 2.199 and then dropped to 1.979 in 2015, which Son said is projected for next year as well.

He said they are “concentrating on the highest and best use of taxpayer funds that benefit the majority of our residents.”

Currently, Hampton is the 14th lowest in Allegheny out of 130 municipalities.

Specifically, Son said of the $14 million projected to be received in the general fund, the highest receipts comes from earned income taxes, which is attributed to “quality of our residents,” while most municipalities usually rely on real estate taxes for the highest portion of receipts.

Operating expenses include police and public safety representing approximately 18 percent — or $2.5 million of the budget. Street and bridge maintenance, snow and ice control and other public works endeavors include community services, represent an approximate combined 25 percent of the budget — or around $3.5 million, said Son.

Specifically, some capital improvements will include renovations to the basketball and street hockey courts, and two sand volleyball courts, said Lochner. More than $525,000 will go toward road paving; $200,000-plus toward sewer line restoration; and approximately $250,000 in vehicle equipment for the community services.

Son said the budget also includes the development goals and objectives approved and presented by council and staff for 2018. There will be long-range MS4 funding for mandated stormwater management, municipal building improvements, police department compliance with federal CIIS security rules and beautification of township roadways. There will also be expansion of community center programming, geographic information systems mapping expansion in compliance with the Department of Environmental Protection mandate regarding stormwater management, and funding for engineering and design on the upgrade of the projected three-year renovation of the sewage treatment plant.

“We are able to maintain and minimize any increases as a result of an experienced township council, consistent annual philosophical direction and fiscal responsibility designed to focus on providing a high quality of township services that benefit the majority of township residents,” said Son.

This also falls in line with the council's goals to make “continued improvements to township infrastructure and the Route 8 corridor to help improve the commercial real estate tax base and reduce the tax burden to residents,” said Son.

Peter Russ, council member, noted the importance of “fiscal conservatism and practical government while continuing first-class services which differentiate Hampton from peer communities.”

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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