Bergen freeholders cut over $1 million from Tedesco budget

The Bergen County freeholder board will introduce a 2017 budget on Wednesday that is more than $1 million less than the $522-million spending plan proposed last month by County Executive James J. Tedesco III.

The Bergen County freeholder board will introduce a 2017 budget on Wednesday that is more than $1 million less than the $522-million spending plan proposed last month by County Executive James J. Tedesco III.

The cuts, made during the last month in meetings between the board and individual county departments and agencies, heavily slashed the budget’s administration and finance portion, which was reduced by $700,000.

Freeholders made a number of smaller cuts to other areas, all of which combined to lessen the tax levy from the initially-proposed $412.7 million to about $411.6 million, according to budget documents provided by the county.

Tedesco, a Democrat, said in a Friday statement he appreciated the board’s “thoughtful due diligence” in making the cuts. The budget, he said, funds his administration’s top priorities, including education, parks, and public health.

The 2017 levy is now 1.64 percent greater than last year’s, the documents said. County officials say residents with the average Bergen County home, assessed at $465,962, will pay about $6.88 more on the county portion of their tax bill.

But those officials have refused to provide a tax rate, so the tax impact cannot be independently verified. Officials said it will not be fixed until June.

The board will likely take a final vote on the budget on May 17.

The freeholder board, composed entirely of Democrats, has lauded the spending plan. Freeholder Steve Tanelli called it “tremendously responsible,” while freeholder and budget committee chairman David Ganz said in a statement that it was the most forward-thinking budget of his tenure.

Freeholders significantly reduced the amount of money dedicated to professional services, the budget for which was cut by $200,000 to a total of $2 million.

Freeholder spokesman Jared Lautz said this was because the county’s in-house attorneys will be taking on more work, thus lessesning the need to hire outside counsel.

The freeholders also chopped a combined $500,000 from both workers compensation and the liability claim fund, for which a combined $3 million had been budgeted. Lautz said freeholders made the cuts after meeting with the county's insurance consultants, who expect fewer claims and expenses.

Although county officials intend to spend $20 million less than last year taxes still rose in order to cover a $7 million gap caused by a reduction in state aid, according to Joseph Luppino, the county treasurer and chief financial officer.

Read More at Northjersey.com


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