The elephant in the official Newtown Township Citizen Survey, which closed on July9, 2020, is Question 15: "Would you be willing to pay higher Township taxes for increased services?"
More than 60% of general funds revenue comes from Earned Income Tax (EIT). In light of the projected loss of EIT revenue due to COVID-19, the wording of Question 15 might better be "Would you be willing to pay higher Township taxes to prevent cutbacks in current services?"
Low Property Taxes
It should be noted that Newtown Township has one of the lowest property taxes in the area. The Township's 4.5 mill tax amounts to $196.20 yearly town tax on a home with a market value of $400,000 and an assessed value of $43,600 (the approximate average home market/assessed value in Newtown Township in 2018). None of the tax money collected is deposited in the General Fund, which pays salaries of the Police, Public Works, EMS and other township departments as well as other expenses such as legal fees, etc.
Here's how your 4.5 RE tax millage is allocated:
- 2.625 Mills go to debt servicing, which includes paying off loans for increased road repairs and the town building mortgage
- 0.875 Mill goes to fire protection services (in support of the Newtown Fire Association volunteer fire department)
- 0.55 Mill goes to fire hydrant maintenance
- 0.45 Mill goes to rescue squad purposes (Newtown Ambulance Squad)
Impact of COVID-19
At the June 10, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Zoom meeting, Dan Connelly of ESI Solutions, Inc. presented an "interim report" regarding the financial impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 budget and beyond. ESI was hired to develop a 5-year budget plan, but in the wake of COVID-19, that seemed less urgent than accessing the Township's financial health and projecting the budget balance by the end of the year assuming shortfalls in tax and other revenue.
The following figures are slides that were part of a presentation made by ESI presentation:
Figure 1: This chart shows the Township's General Fund end-of-year balance, which is decreasing every year due to deficit spending. This balance, which is designed to pay for unanticipated expenses, has been used over the past several years to cover the deficit; i.e., budgeting for more expenses than anticipated income. Without "corrective actions" shown in See Figure 2, the balance at the end of 2020 is anticipated to fall well below the mandated 8% minimum.
Figure 2: Possible "Corrective Actions" anticipated to ensure a 2020 general fund balance of 8% (see Figure 1). NOTE: $290,000 was taken out the 2020 road program already, which means only 2 miles of roads will be repaved this year v.s. the planned 5 miles before COVID19 (read "Summary of April 22, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Meeting").
ESI will present a review of the results of the survey at a future Board of Supervisors meeting.
Posted on 09 Jul 2020, 13:47 - Category: Taxes