Burlington County Freeholders today adopted a $216.9 million budget for the year 2011 that reduces the amount of tax dollars needed to run county government by $5.9 million, making this the fourth consecutive year that the tax levy has been cut.
The budget reduces spending by $4.3 million, and also lowers the county property tax rate from 30.99 cents per $100 of equalized valuations to 30.96. This marks the 21st year in a row the rate has been reduced.
Freeholder Bruce Garganio noted that the multi-million dollar reductions in taxes and spending translates into a per person spending level of $483.45 — the lowest among all 21 New Jersey counties.
“The reductions come at a time when our taxpayers need it most,” Garganio said. “As we are all aware, many residents are still struggling to pay their mortgage or rent, and find employment that enables them to meet their other daily expenses.”
“We’ve made significant cuts in more than a dozen county departments, but our core programs and services remain intact,” he added.
The final budget vote was 4–0, with one abstention.
When added together, tax cuts executed since 2007 total $8.5 million. Spending has been reduced a total $9.6 million over the same period.
As to the tax rate, 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 formula determines, on a town-by-town basis, the assessed value of property against actual market value.
Garganio noted that the budget reductions were accomplished despite a loss of nearly $1.9 billion in property tax ratables, which now total $50 billion.
“That left us with a $5.8 million revenue shortfall right from the beginning,” Garganio said. “But we were able to find the reductions to overcome it.”
Garganio said he viewed the budget as the culmination of three years of implementing economies in government operation, noting that more than 300 staff positions have been eliminated since January 2008, and 165 vehicles from a county fleet of more than 650 being taken out of service.