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Freeholders Cut Spending & Holds Line on Tax Rate County Will Spend $1.4 Million LESS than in 2009

(Woodbury, NJ) - The Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders plan to vote on the county's 2010 budget tonight at their regular meeting. The 2010 budget reduces county spending by $1.4 million from 2009, and reduces the total amount to be raised by taxation to $2.6 million less than last year.  The County's tax rate will remain at 51.04 cents.

The Freeholders have held the tax rate stable for ten years, with two tax rate reductions in 2006 and 2007.  The 2010 tax rate will again be less than the county's tax rate was in 1968.

"We have planned for rainy days and in this economy we could not ask our taxpayers for more, so we knew we had to share more services with other agencies and changed the way we do things in order to make up our budget gap without cutting services or having layoffs," said Freeholder Director Stephen M. Sweeney.   

Freeholder Director Sweeney said that last week the County's Aa3 bond rating was upgraded to an Aa2 rating by Moody's which continue to show that the county is on the right financial track.  The county has a AA+ rating with Standard & Poor's.

At the start of 2010 the county faced a $15.7 million budget gap due to contractual obligations, insurance costs, pension costs, a $2.6 million decrease in taxes collected due to a decrease in ratables, decrease in interest income revenues and state aid cuts. 

Through the elimination of 40 positions through attrition saving $1.79 million, an additional $5.3 million in savings by sharing services with GCC, the library, GCIT, and other agencies , becoming 'self insured', and cutting $1.4 million in operating expenses, the Freeholders are able to vote upon a $206. 2 million budget that is $1.4 million less than in 2009. 

Director Sweeney said, "This was a very difficult budget and we looked at everything.  I want to thank our unions for working with us to negotiate two self directed furlough days and a 1.5 percent contribution to their health insurance.  We are very proud of the men and women who work for the residents of Gloucester County."

"Gloucester County has received over $10 million in federal and state grants to improve our infrastructure and we will be getting those projects moving," said Freeholder Deputy Director Damminger.  "Infrastructure construction and improvements means people are working, and we are very aggressive in securing grants so our roads are safe and we remain a desirable location for industry."  Deputy Director Damminger is the county's liaison to the Department of Public Works.

Damminger pointed to the continuation of the Route 322 project; its $1.4 million investment in the county road overlay program to maintain 314 miles of roadway; resurfacing and safety improvements to CR 678 Mount Royal Road in Mantua Township; resurfacing and safety improvements to CR 643 Grove Road in West Deptford Township, the replacement of Cedar Swamp Bridge in Logan; and the Winslow Road Bridge replacement in Monroe Township as some of the major projects the county will undertake this year.

The Freeholders have budgeting to purchase and protect 51 acres of land for future expansion of the Gloucester County Veterans Cemetery in Monroe Township. Since the opening of the Gloucester County Veterans Memorial Cemetery, more than 1300 veterans have been laid to rest. This acquisition will provide continued serenity for our veterans' and their families.