PATERSON, NJ – Passaic County’s proposed $411.8 million budget for 2013 would raise the tax levy by less than two percent, according to a press release issued by the freeholder board.

The freeholders voted unanimously Tuesday night to introduce.

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"This year's budget is structurally sound, reducing waste, consolidating services, and holding the line on spending in the best interest of county taxpayers," said Budget Chairman Pat Lepore in a statement. 

The proposed increase in the tax levy by less would be $2.8 million less than what’s allowed by the state budget cap, according to the press release. The budget continues to fully self-fund the old county pension system and provides for an $8.5 million surplus. The operating budgets for all county departments remain flat or in some cases less than last year’s levels.

“This is our commitment to long term planning, rather than short term budgeting,’’ said Freeholder Director Bruce James. “This benefits all of us as taxpayers.”

Officials said the county has reduced its full-time employees to 1,854 from 2,392 in 2006, mostly due to a consolidation of the Juvenile Detention Center with Essex County -- an effort that saves the county over $10 million this budget year-- and not filling positions after retirements. 

“Passaic County also has less employees today in county government, while still maintaining essential county services” said Lepore.

The budget was introduced after the Passaic County Freeholder Board held a special public hearing in early February to discuss the 2013 working budget.  The special budget meeting gave the public access to all county department heads as they presented their budget proposals.

County officials expect that the 2013 county budget will be adopted by the end of March.  The Passaic County Budget for 2013 as well as other financial documents are available online at www.passaiccountynj.org