Taxes will stay the same in Hellam Township for the coming year under the terms of the $3.3 million 2021 budget approved Nov. 19 by the township’s supervisors.
After the meeting, Township Manager Corina Mann said unlike last year, when the township increased taxes for the first time in 11 years, this year’s budget process went smoothly. That was in part because predicted COVID-19 pandemic-related revenue shortfalls never came to be.
“We thought earned income tax receipts would be lower because people were not working, but we’ve seen no impact,” Mann said. “Our property tax projections have been right on target and building in the township, right now, is rampant, so zoning permit fees are actually up.”
The biggest line item increase is for health care benefits. The township’s premiums are increasing by 18 percent. But that is being offset by reductions in maintenance and operating expenses thanks to the township’s new municipal building, which just opened.
The meeting, which was held via a combination of in person and teleconference, was the first time the supervisors gathered in the new building.
“Coming into this new building we have everything we need right now. We don’t need any new equipment. We will have much less expense for repairs and maintenance, and due to energy efficient design, including a switch to LED lighting, utility costs will be lower,” Mann said.
The new building could change the budget equation next year. Right now the township is only paying the interest on the money it borrowed for the $4 million project. It will need to start making principal payments in 2022. By then it hopes to have reduced the price tag significantly through grants.
Hellam Township has received a $42,000 grant to help pay for an emergency generator for the new facility, which houses the township's administration and the police department. Several other grant applications are currently pending.
“We have multiple grant applications in for construction and equipment. Due to COVID, the awarding of a lot of those grants has been delayed,” Mann said.