Thursday, March 28th, 2013

The Morris County Freeholders have unanimously adopted a 2013 county budget that contains a zero percent increase in taxes while maintaining critical county services.

According to Freeholder Director Thomas Mastrangelo, the 2013 budget, which can be viewed online, reduces total expenses by $6.2 million, appropriating $311.1 million, down from last year’s $317.3 million figure.

Mastrangelo, a member of the Budget Sub-Committee, said the freeholders worked extremely hard to ensure the budget reductions and the tax freeze did not have a negative impact on county services.

“The number one goal I set for this year was no increase in property taxes,” Mastrangelo said. “We not only achieved a zero in the taxes needed to operate the county for the first time in 15 years, but we also achieved real property tax relief with a $4 million cut in the Preservation Trust Fund, all while maintaining the same level of county services.”

He said the reduction in the Preservation Trust Fund tax will actually result in an estimated 1.7 percent decrease in the overall county tax levy.

“In such difficult economic times, I think most will agree that cutting spending by more than $6 million without sacrificing essential services is quite an accomplishment,” Mastrangelo said.

He noted the 2013 budget reflects 63 less county employees than last year, and that the county’s borrowing this year will be $7.7 million less than it was in 2012.

Continuing programs such as providing more than 500,000 meals to the county’s senior citizens and maintaining services at Morris View Healthcare Center was very important to the freeholders, Mastrangelo said.

“We were able to make cuts in areas other than vital social services,” Mastrangelo said. “Because of conservative fiscal management here at the county level and Gov. Christie’s property tax reforms, we were able realize more than $4 million in savings in salaries and pension and health care costs.”

Mastrangelo thanked all of the Freeholders, county managers and county employees for their diligence in crafting the 2013 budget. “We have achieved something that is almost unheard of in New Jersey, a property tax reduction,” Mastrangelo said. “I also want the taxpayers of Morris County to know we are already hard at work on the 2014 budget so we can continue delivering on our fiscal conservative policies.”

The budget was adopted by the freeholders after a March 27 public hearing.