Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The Morris County Freeholders have introduced a $298.5 million county budget for 2009 that reflects a reduction of $2.2 million in the county tax levy.

“This budget demonstrates the freeholders remain committed to the pledge we made last year of slowing the rate of increase in the amount raised by taxes,” said Gene F. Feyl, freeholder director. Feyl, a member of the freeholder budget sub-committee, said the proposed budget is only 1.4 percent higher than last year’s spending plan, which was just 3.3 percent higher than the year before.

The freeholders said most of the increases in the 2009 budget are either state or human service mandates, or are the result of rate increases. They said that includes increases of $2.5 million in health insurance premiums; $1.3.million for patients in state institutions; and $1.2 million in pension costs. Feyl also said new ratables are down from an average growth rate of 10 percent to 4 percent.

However, the freeholders said through attrition, the 2009 budget contains 76 less employees than were on the county payroll in 2008, saving approximately $3.8 million.
According to the freeholders, operational efficiencies at Morris View Healthcare Center last year resulted in actual cost reductions of $2.2 million.

The freeholders said these and other cost efficiencies allow them to maintain critical county government services.

Included in the budget is money for an additional 30,000 meals for senior citizens and 6,400 additional transportation rides for the elderly, ill and disabled.
Additional funds to address an increase in the caseload of individuals applying for food stamps and direct assistance are also included in the 2009 budget.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for March 25 at 7:30 p.m.