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3/21/2011 - Freeholders Introduce 2011 Budget Plan

Facing Difficult Choices, Freeholders Introduce 2011 Budget Plan

After weeks of meetings and difficult deliberations, the Finance Committee of the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders introduced a spending plan Tuesday evening that closes a huge deficit through new cost-cutting efficiencies, possible privatization of select services and the reduction of the county workforce by up to 14 percent, including the proposed closure of the Cumberland County Library.

The $131,317,396 plan spends fewer dollars than last year, and raises $82.9 million through taxation (tax levy), the same amount as in the previous two years.

The painful cuts are necessary to close an $11 million shortfall caused by a substantial decrease in the county’s ratables combined with increased costs for pension, insurance, and wages. Faced with those challenges, the Finance Committee is recommending:

  • Employee Layoffs
  • 30
  • Elimination or Adjustment of Vacant Positions
  • 37
  • Privatization of Select Positions*
  • 60 - 70
  • County Library Positions
  • 16 - 18
    * (Food services Cumberland Manor & JDC, Housekeeping/laundry Cumberland Manor, Nursing services County Jail)

    If approved and implemented, this would amount to a reduction of approximately 14 percent of the county workforce from its current level.

    Along with the workforce reductions, the Finance Committee recommends the use of approximately half ($6.7 million) of the County’s current surplus. And despite no change in the tax levy, the 2011 tax apportionment rate will need to be increased by approximately $.04 to raise the same total tax revenue.

    The proposed budget also includes other cost-cutting efficiencies including $500,000 in savings at Cumberland Manor.

    Freeholder Director William Whelan
    Freeholder Director William Whelan
     
    These are difficult choices,” said Freeholder Director William F. Whelan. “This is not just the budget of seven Freeholders. It’s the budget of every taxpayer in Cumberland County who already bear a substantial tax burden. We need to know what they’re willing to pay for.”

    In the proposal to close the County Library, the Finance Committee said the County would support the municipal libraries in Bridgeton, Millville and Vineland as well as the library at Cumberland County College. Closing the County Library is projected to save approximately $300,000 a year.

    There’s no magic solution to the challenges we’re facing,” said Whelan. “Our goal was to present a transparent budget that everyone could understand. No ‘smoke and mirrors’.”

    As the Freeholder Board begins its review of the budget, the plan will also go to the New Jersey Division of Community Affairs for approval.

    Freeholder Whelan stresses that the Finance Committee’s recommendations are just the introduction of the budget. He expects there will be amendments before the final adoption.

    Along with Freeholder Director Whelan, the Finance Committee also includes Freeholders Thomas Sheppard and Carl Kirstein. Deputy Freeholder Director, James A. Dunkins also participated in the budget proposal discussions in the absence of the third committee member.