County to Adopt 2005 Budget with No Increase in Tax Rate
(Woodbury, NJ) The Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders will adopt the 2005 budget at their meeting tonight which holds the line on the County Tax Rate. This is the sixth straight year, since 1999, that the Freeholders have been able to maintain the county tax rate while continuing to provide expanded services and programs to its residents.
The budget process here is a very rigorous one. As Freeholders we believe that we owe the taxpayers nothing less than providing them with quality services and programs at the lowest possible cost, said Freeholder Director Sweeney. We have been moving Gloucester County in the direction that attracts quality industry and business that provides good paying jobs to our residents and these actions have been resulting in high ratables which ultimately help maintain the tax rate, said Sweeney. The county tax rate is the sole amount of taxes that the county controls.
Sweeney noted that the Freeholders have continued to make preserving open space and farmlands a priority and will bond $16 million, which will again be partially paid back by the state, to continue to aggressively save farmland and open space from development. The $16 million is part of the county's capital budget program, the part of the budget that is dedicated towards improvements and infrastructure.
Other highlights of the 2005 operating and capital budget include: $12 million for the new school for Children with Autism, $800,000 for the County's educational institutions (GCC and GCIT), funding for two additional hires in each the Corrections Department and the Sheriff's Office, $140,000 for the purchase of mobile field reporting software for municipal police, $22,000 for software to better track gun permits are also included in the budgets. This year's budget provides for almost $5.1 million in highway infrastructure improvements. These infrastructure improvements include funding for the Intersection of Egg Harbor and Gantown Roads in Washington Township, Glenn Echo Road and Kings Highway in Swedesboro, and $2 million for overlay on roads throughout the County.
Sweeney said, We are doing something in Gloucester County that rarely happens at any level of government anymore, we provide more services to our residents and towns, attract business and ratables, and are maintaining the rate at which homeowners are taxed. We work to make certain there is no duplication of services, to provide services to the municipalities when we can and where it makes financial sense, and to be purposeful in the county's expenditures by investing in the services and programs that will promote jobs, health, education and public safety for our residents. "That is our obligation and we take it to heart," said Sweeney.
Costs increases for employees contractual increases, healthcare, pension contribution, corrections (prisoner) medical services, utilities, social services and other routine costs were up by $10.1 million for 2005. Under the budget, the county will also pay-off $3.5 million of county farmland debt with state reimbursements.