FLEMINGTON, NJ – County Freeholders approved their 2017 budget yesterday afternoon without any comment during its public hearing.
As noted by Freeholder Director John Lanza, this year’s $88.762 million spending plan is lower than that in 2006, when the county budgeted $93.42 million.
The 2017 budget is also slightly less than last year’s $88.765 million plan. The county tax rate will remain at 30.89 cents per $100 of a property’s assessed value – the same as it has been for the last three years.
The county tax rate may vary slightly by municipality because local tax rates are equalized to offset discrepancies between a municipality’s assessed property values and actual market values.
Lanza and the other freeholders praised the cooperation of county CFO Janet Previte and the county’s department heads.
The budget includes about $9.8 million for capital expenditures. Previte said it relies on about $9.9 million from surplus –a little more than last year – but she said that amount will be “regenerated” this year.
The budget allocates $7.975 million for open space.
The county has had no debt since 2014, Previte said. Freeholder Matt Holt recalled the exact date as Nov. 14, 2014.
“I remember signing the check,” Holt said.
Lanza particularly highlighted county Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III for his “willingness to be a team player and work to achieve a flat funded budget for his office this year, despite the upwards cost pressures.
“Many prosecutors have sought significant budget increases” this year, Lanza said, a reaction to the state’s new bail reform process. “Oftentimes it becomes contentious.”
“That has created panic” in many prosecutor’s offices, he said. “We had no such panic here.”
The county library tax, which is a separate item on property tax bills, will be $6.222 million.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to remove a quote that was used out of context.