PATERSON, NJ – Saying it reflects “fiscally sound policies, strong budgetary flexibility, proactive increases to manage volatile expense line items, including significant reserves for workers’ compensation, health benefits, and liability insurance, and an overall net debt of 1% of market value,” the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted the 2018 budget on March 14.

While the overall budget comes with a tax increase of just under 2 percent, it also, according to a statement released following its adoption, was developed with conservative revenue projections, improved reserve levels, and significant investment in infrastructure improvements. The 2017 budget that this one will replace included no tax increase.

“Every year the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders continue to set the standard for conservative budgetary practices that not only keep taxes stable, but invest in infrastructure improvements, significant upgrades to the Passaic County Park System, and the continued expansion of educational opportunities offered by the Passaic County Technical Institute and Passaic County Community College,” stated Passaic County Freeholder Director Cassandra “Sandi” Lazzara. “The 2018 Passaic County budget protects taxpayers from unforeseen financial emergencies with increased reserve levels for workers’ compensation, health benefits, and liability insurance, putting the county in strong financial position as we continue to grow our economy and invest in our rich history and bright future.”

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Passaic County recently won praise from Moody’s Financial Services with an upgraded bond rating citing evidence of a “large growing tax base” and “conservative budgeting.” The Freeholder Board at the time said that the credit upgraded was important because it showed that an “independent third party and subject matter expert agrees that county lawmakers are managing the budget in a responsible way.”

Earlier this year Freeholders T.J. Best and Assad Ahkter told TAPinto Paterson that the upgrade was “another benefit to the City of Paterson when it comes to future development” because it allows the county to borrow money at better rates than the City of Paterson can, thereby giving local taxpayers a “better deal.” Examples of this, Best said at the time, include the financing of the recently constructed parking garage at St. Joseph’s Health and local road resurfacing efforts.

Included for funding in the budget, the statement read, is the maintenance, repairing, or repavement of 533 lane miles of county roads and 350 bridges and culverts; the expansion of the Passaic County Park System; and the addition of a STEM Academy that will offer Passaic County students new educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, training our children for the 21st century economy.