Freeholders Cut Spending and Taxes 2012 Budget Cuts Spending, Salary & Wages, Operating Expenses and debt
(Woodbury, NJ) – The Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders are scheduled to vote on the county’s 2012 budget that will cut spending and taxes for a third consecutive year. Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger and Deputy Director Giuseppe (Joe) Chila said that the 2012 budget represents $3.2 million in spending cuts and a reduction in the amount to be raised by taxation by over $4.1 million.
Freeholder Director Damminger said, “We will be adopting a bare bones budget that will cut government spending and taxes for the third year in a row. Our goal was to maintain the services we provide for our residents and to continue to place an emphasis on sharing services with other local governments to achieve maximum efficiency.”
“This is an economy where every dollar counts to every family. We pledged to cut spending and cut taxes, and it was not easy considering the county faced a reduction in almost every area of revenue and decrease in ratables due to the economy,” Director Damminger said.
Freeholder Director Damminger said that the county budget represented 221 attritioned positions since 2008 and that salary and wages were reduced below 2011 levels by $100,000. Operating expenses will be cut, costs were avoided by changing health benefit plans and no purchase will be made that will not prove to increase efficiency or produce a savings.
The 2012 budget will be adopted at $198.7 million; in 2011 it was introduced at $201.9, a decrease of $3.2 million. The amount to be raised by taxation in 2012 is $139.975 million, and in 2011 it was $144.12 million, representing a decrease of $4.145 million, or a 2.9% decrease.
Freeholder Deputy Director Joe Chila said that the county has been practicing a five-year budget projection plan and a six-year capital program. “When you plan prudently and responsibly you can adjust for the tough times. That is why we have completed major projects and are continuing to cut the county’s debt,” said Chila.
Chila said that under this budget the county will decrease debt by $16.6 million by the end of 2012 and projects to further reduce debt by 31 percent by 2017.
“For the past three years the Freeholders have cut $47.6 million from the county’s debt and we have an aggressive debt reduction program to keep our financial house strong,” Chila stated.
Gloucester County continually receives high marks from the financial rating companies. Gloucester County has a AA2 rating from Moody’s and an AA+ from Standard & Poors, while in comparison, other counties and municipalities have been downgraded from the ratings agencies.
The Freeholders said that the current condition of the county’s physical assets, roads, courts and other buildings are all excellent due to the work done over the past ten years. Therefore, this year’s capital program has been scaled down to include completing those projects that already anticipated and budgeted for, while utilizing $5.6 million in federal and state grants to complete road projects.
Freeholder Director Damminger said, “We scrutinized everything in our budgets and we all believe that our educational systems are one place where we cannot cut. Education is the key to economic vitality for our residents and region. Therefore our educational systems will receive consistent funding from the county.”
Damminger noted that the state of New Jersey has consistently underfunded GCIT and GCSSSD since 2009 to the tune of about 44.75%, which continues to shift an unfair burden on local governments and taxpayers. The State Department of Education has underfunded GCIT/GCSSSD by more than $5.7 million since 2009 leaving local taxpayers to pick up and provide for our students where the state has not.
Gloucester County College has the lowest tuition rate and the highest graduation rate in New Jersey. Gloucester County Institute of Technology and Gloucester County Special Services District are both rated first in the state for the lowest administrative costs per pupil.