PATERSON, NJ - The Passaic County Board of County Commissioners introduced a "structurally balanced and responsible 2021 budget of $436 million," on Tuesday. The budget, a statement read, reflects the priorities of current tax relief for its residents while providing future generations with financial stability by utilizing conservative budget practices.
This is the third consecutive year, and fourth time in five years, the county tax levy has not increased.
“Every year we approach the budget process with the difficult task of trying to balance much needed services to our residents with the least impact to the taxpayer as well as keeping future generations in mind,” said Commissioner Pat Lepore, the board’s current director, who also serves as the budget committee chairman. “Introducing our budget early is important because it gives our 16 mayors and our constituents a clear picture of what to expect from the county.”
According to County Administrator Anthony De Nova, the administration started its planning process early, allowing for the budget's introduction nearly two months ahead of the state mandated deadline.
“We have worked tirelessly to address long-standing issues affecting Passaic County and to strengthen our finances. These past few years, we have seen the fruits of our labor – getting an Aa1 bond rating, the highest in our county's history and the second highest attainable," Commissioner Bruce James, who serves as the legislative body's co-chari, said. "We were also able to provide our municipalities with over $39 million to help them purchase equipment and offset other payroll costs in our fight against COVID-19. None of this would have been possible if we did not remain steadfast about keeping our financial house in order,” said Deputy Director Bruce James.
By continuing to follow a philosophy that budgets are not one-year documents, county officials said, they have been able to accomplish a number of fiscal goals including holding Passaic County's tax levy increase to .37 percent over the last five years, achieve a top bond rating from Moody's Investor Services, implement a policy to stabilize the County’s debt service by refinancing existing debt without extending its maturity date and limiting the amount of new debt to a maximum of $10 million annually.
This strategy, the statement said, will reduce debt service payments from $36.4 million currently to just $13.9 million in 2030.
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