Burlington County’s 2011 budget cuts taxes and spending

Freeholder Director Bruce Garganio said that the County’s 2011 budget calling for multi-million dollar decreases in both taxes and spending translates into lower equalized tax rates for most Burlington County towns, as well as the lowest per capita spending rate among all 21 counties in New Jersey.

Burlington County’s per person spending level of $483.45 would be the lowest among all 21 counties in the state, with the next lowest being $538.70 for Bergen County. The highest would be Cape May at $1,477.65 per person.

“Once again, when you do the math, this budget is sensitive to the taxpayer who is footing the bill,” Garganio said. “The numbers dramatize the importance and impact of cutting taxes and spending.”

The overall county property tax rate is dropping 30.99 cents per $100 of equalized value to 30.96 cents, and is decreasing for the 21st year in a row. Under the state’s equalized ratio formula, this will result in decreases of varying amounts in the local rates for 34 of the county’s 40 municipalities.

The 2011 budget, which is scheduled for a public hearing Wednesday, June 8, calls for a $5.9 million decrease in taxes, and a decrease in spending totaling $4.3 million.

When added together, tax cuts executed since 2007 total $8.5 million; spending is being reduced a total $9.6 million over the same period.

“Burlington County historically has enjoyed one of the lowest per capita spending levels in the State,” Garganio said, “but the latest numbers also set us far apart from our closest neighbors.”

The per capita amount for Camden County is $628.82; for Gloucester the number is $700.46; and, for Mercer County the per person calculation is $779.80.

As for the equalized property tax rates, the numbers can vary significantly based on the state’s formula for calculating — on a town-to-town basis — the assessed value of property against actual market value.

“No one can recall in recent memory a situation where most of the local tax rates would be cut,” Garganio said. “This budget clearly answers to taxpayers at a time when relief is needed most.”