Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
The Morris County Freeholder Board, at its Dec. 11 meeting, agreed to develop a 2014 county budget with no increase in county taxes.
“This year, for the first time in 15 years, Morris County taxes did not increase,” said Freeholder Hank Lyon, budget committee chairman who presented the proposal. “Stopping the rise in property taxes is the number one issue I hear from Morris Countyresidents, and after delivering a zero in 2013, we should deliver another zero in 2014.”
Freeholder Director Tom Mastrangelo, a member of the budget committee, agreed. “My first priority for 2013 was no increase in taxes,” Mastrangelo said. “We achieved a zero, and actually were able to apply a cut in the open space tax to reduce Morris Countytaxes by nearly 2 percent. As a member of the budget committee, this step will provide guidance for the county administration and department heads for 2014.”
Governor Christie’s property tax reforms are a key factor, according to Freeholder John Krickus, also a member of the budget committee.
“In addition to the savings from salary cap and health benefit reforms, county government is being reorganized,” Krickus said. “When employees have retired or otherwise left county government, we have not filled positions or have filled positions with part time workers, as recently occurred at the county library.”
Freeholder David Scapicchio, a member of the capital budget committee, pointed to reducing debt as another of the freeholders’ key objectives.
“By keeping capital expenditures under $25 million this year, and seeking the same level in 2014, county debt will be reduced to $246.5 million from more than $269 million just two short years ago, Scapicchio said. “At the same time we are focused on road and bridge projects that mayors and residents have told us are a critical priority.”
From a financial perspective Freeholder Doug Cabana, the longest serving member of the freeholder board, observed, “Our triple AAA rating was once again affirmed by the rating agencies for the thirty-ninth year in a row demonstrating how well managed Morris County is. We are an example not just for New Jersey, but for the nation.”
With the holiday season upon us and as 2013 draws to a close, budget chairman Hank Lyon concluded, “Another year of no tax increases is a pretty good present for the taxpayers of Morris County.”