Friday, September 22, 2023

County Budget to Include Funds For Capital Improvement Grants

By Rick Racela

CREST HAVEN — The $124.3-million county budget freeholders are slated to adopt at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 28 will include an amendment to create a special fund for grants to municipalities for one-time, short-term,  capital improvements.
County Administrator Steve O’Connor said the amount will be “about $3.8 million and whether it continues will depend on whether the auditor tells us we are financially sound.”
The $3.8 million will come out of the county’s $20-million surplus, and that will reduce the interest earned on investments.
This is apparently the only change from the budget introduced Jan 24.  It still calls for a tax rate cut of 3.54 cents to a new rate of 17.1 cents per $100 of assessed value. The tax would be $171 for each $100,000 of assessed value. The rate varies by towns according to their assessment ratios. 
The tax cut is primarily the result of a 23.5 per cent increase in ratables, to $43.8 billion from $35.4 billion.
The total budget is up $6.9 million or 5.85 percent over last year’s $117.4-million budget as introduced.
The levy — amount to be raised by taxes — is up not quite $2 million to $75 million, meeting the goal of not increasing more than the amount of new revenue generated from new construction.
Estimated fees from the county clerk are up $2 million to $5 million, but still well under the $8.2 million they brought in last year.
Prior to the amendment for the new program, the budget uses not quite $16 million, about 44 percent, of the $35.8-million surplus.
O’Connor told this newspaper that an increase of $2 million for employe health benefits is the “No. 1 thing” responsible for the budget increase.
Cost of pensions is up $637,000, he said, and contributions to mental health care are up $325,000 “because of state cutbacks,” he said.
The major budget categories are health and human services, $24.5 million, insurance, $22.3 million, public safety, $15.6 million; education, $11.2 million; and public works, $10.97 million.
They are up 7.86 percent, 9.72 percent, 11.05 percent, and 3.17 percent, and down 1.6 percent, respectively.
Salary and wages are up 7.3 percent to $41 million.  Other expenses (OE) are up 6.29 percent to $62 million, capital expenses are up 5 percent to $4.3 million, and debt service is down almost 2 percent, to $7.9 million.
Contact Zelnik at (609) 886-8600 Ext. 27 or:

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