The Borough of Hopatcong Council passed the 2020 Budget with No Municipal Tax Increase while increasing funding for Capital Funding and other major areas of improvement.
The following is the official statement from the borough regarding the budget, along with the video from the meeting which contains and excellent presentation from Borough Auditing firm Lerch, Vinci & Higgins, LLP that covered the Budget and the positive financial standings of the Borough and its ability to handle the COVID-19 impact. Additionally, there several questions from Councilmembers and the public.
Slides from Presentation:
Borough of Hopatcong [05/07/2020]: This year, the Borough has again adopted a budget that has no municipal tax increase. While our community is fighting to regain economic stability, we are doing everything we can to maintain service levels and learn to operate as efficiently as possible in this new normal.
We have been moving towards reducing our debt while increasing the amount of funding provided for capital projects. While the transition to a more “pay-as-you-go” capital planning is taking hold, we have seen positive changes in our overall financial health. The amount budgeted for capital projects has grown from $75,000 in 2016 to $1,200,000 in 2020. The amount of general debt we anticipate authorizing this year remains at $500,000, similar to the last 2 budget years, but we are paying down $1,350,000 in general debt in 2020 – that will create a debt reduction in general debt of $850,000 in 2020.
In addition to our capital projects including road paving and improvements, fleet replacements and other public works improvements, we are also reinvesting in our Senior Center, Parks and Recreation and Emergency Services. We have begun setting aside funding for the future purchase of a fire truck as well as making safety improvements to our bleachers at our athletic fields, investing in equipment to improve the quality of our fields and replacing park fencing. We have invested in a dynamic software to evaluate the quality of our roads and provide up to date physical ratings of each roadway in the Borough. Also, for public safety, we are funding the purchase of emergency services radio systems, turn out gear and air pack replacements to keep our fire fighters safe.
Our general 2020 budget has increased by over a million dollars to $19,441,110. Half of that increase is due an increase in capital funding (27%) and grants (23%). Grant expenditures are offset entirely by grant revenues, so no additional cost to our taxpayers is generated by that increase to our overall budget. Another large change in our 2020 budget is a $200,000 savings in our medical insurance. This savings comes from moving into new plans that save both the Borough and our employees on their contribution to the premium cost.
Another increase to our budget comes from increasing the staffing level of our police force. After several years of being understaffed and increasing overtime costs to cover shifts, we have increased the size of our force to 30 from 27. We anticipate future reductions in overtime costs to recoup some of the increase from this year.
As part of our budget process, we evaluated each department by looking at the efficiency, the services we currently provide and what services we would like to add. We have established measurements that enable us to analyze the functionality of each department and this year will bring improvements to our service levels.
We have posted on our website a budget presentation prepared by Paul Lerch ( Lerch, Vinci & Higgins) that notes our budget overview and budget copies can be obtained by emailing our Clerk, Vegan@hopatcong.org
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