Freeholders here introduced a budget that calls for more than $6 million in cuts and would reduced the tax levy on residents for the fifth year in a row.
The $199.8 million budget also calls for a $17.1 million cut in spending, while reducing the tax rate from 30.96¢ per $100 of equalized valuation to 30.91¢. This marks the 22nd year in a row that the rate has been cut.
Since 2007, taxes have been cut a total $14.7 million. Spending is being reduced a total $26.8 million for the same period.
“We continue to identify both tax and spending savings in multi-million dollar amounts which, in this fiscal environment, is a significant but necessary budgeting accomplishment, and one that keeps our pledge to Burlington County residents,” said Freeholder Director Bruce Garganio.
Garganio pointed out that two major Burlington County employers—Burlington Coat and Subaru—recently announced plans to stay in the county and even expand.
“Maintaining a favorable tax policy is paramount to economic development, and certainly factors into our efforts to attract new businesses,” he said.
The county faced a budgeting shortfall of approximately $15 million when work began on the spending plan, which was attributed in part to the continuing decline in property tax ratables, Garganio said. Total ratables now stand at $48.2 billion, a decrease of nearly $1.8 billion from 2011.
A projected decrease in health benefits costs of more than $4 million, the outsourcing of the county’s transportation services, continued freezes in salary and wages for non-union personnel and in hiring, and the pending sale of Buttonwood Hospital, were among the items that factored into a budget that cuts both taxes and spending, he said.
“We don’t leave anything on the table,” said Garganio, “and as soon as this budget is adopted, the budget for 2013 comes into the cross-hairs. We know we will face another revenue shortfall next year, and we intend to begin addressing that immediately.”
Because of the hefty cuts in taxes and spending, the 2012 budget is well within both the appropriation CAP and tax levy CAP imposed by the State. The amount to be raised by taxation is nearly $9.6 million less than the amount permitted by law.
The formal public hearing on the budget is set for 7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 8, in the Freeholder Board Room, County Administration Building, 49 Rancocas Road, Mount Holly.