Falls adopts budget, maintains tax rate for 30th year

The Falls Township Board of Supervisors has unanimously adopted a 2022 spending plan that continues holding the line on municipal taxes, which last increased in 1992.

The 2022 budget will maintain the 7.22 millage rate enacted when a gallon of gas cost $1.05 and the average home cost $122,500.

Even with a continually shrinking state contribution for pensions, increased expenses and cost of living hikes, the Supervisors’ spending plan holds the line on taxes, with $38.5 million projected to be spent in 2022.

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.  

Property owners will continue paying $216.60 for an average assessment of $30,000 under the township’s 2022 budget.

The owner of the average Bristol Township property, by comparison, pays nearly five times more in local taxes.   

Supervisors Chairman Jeff Dence said board members meet individually with Reukauf and Township Manager Matthew Takita as part of the “long process” involved in drafting and ultimately finalizing the budget.

Unlike many other municipalities, Falls maintains its services and offers trash and leaf pickup free of charge without instituting an Earned Income Tax.

Of the local taxes collected from Falls Township property owners, the township receives 3.5% – less than 4 cents per every dollar – while Pennsbury School District collects 84.2% and Bucks County receives 12.3%. 

Over the last decade, the township has seen its pension obligation nearly triple.

Pension contributions surged from $1.3 million in 2012 to $2.6 million in 2017, with $3.5 million projected for next year, all while the state contributions have remained relatively flat.

Falls is projecting $3.5 million in 2022 pension costs, with $2.8 million being covered by the township.

Even with a flat municipal tax rate, Falls Supervisors are planning several projects for 2022, including $2 million earmarked for the continuation of the Falls Township annual road program.

In addition, intersection improvements are planned for North Olds Boulevard and Trenton Road.

Falls had budgeted $61,000 for the project. PennDOT will fund 80% of the project cost through a grant.

Falls will also finish construction of adaptive traffic signal upgrades at Lincoln Highway, Tyburn Road and West Trenton Road with an anticipated cost of $160,000.

Federal funding will cover 80% of the total project expense.

The spending plan also earmarks $50,000 for tree trimming and removal of trees damaged by the Emerald Ash Borer and Spotted Lanternfly.

The budget also allocates $1.1 million in funds for five new police vehicles, firearms, training, and supplies, as well as four new dump trucks for the public works department.

As part of the 2022 budget, the 20-year-old playground at Elderberry Park for kids ages 2 to 12 will be replaced with one featuring wheelchair access and various amenities for children on the autism spectrum.

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