ELIZABETH, NJ — Union County government is compiling a spending plan that benefits from the recent closure of the county’s juvenile detention center. The $491.6 million budget the Union County Freeholder Board is considering would hike taxes by 2 percent, which County Manager Edward Oatman told the Freeholders on March 7 is the lowest increase for Union County government in the past 20 years.
“This year’s executive budget continues to cover important services that contribute to Union County’s outstanding quality of life,” Oatman said. Those services include infrastructure improvements, library programming, Union County Means Green grants and monies for an educational grant program known as HEART, he said.
The proposal would finance a turf field in Scotch Plains along with field improvements in Linden, Rahway and other towns, the County manager said this week.
The County has incorporated fiscal reforms, he said, including a hiring freeze for all non-essential county positions and the closure of the county’s Juvenile Detention Center in Linden, which is anticipated to save the county $24.6 million over three years, Oatman said.
Union County government has also reduced overtime spending in the corrections department by $3.1 million over the past three years, including $1.3 million in 2018 alone, he said.
The county has proposed a 2 percent funding boost to both Union County College and the Union County Vocational Technical School District, Oatman said.
The 2019 budget will also finance a new turf field at Ponderosa Park in Scotch Plains, and new multipurpose fields at John Russell Wheeler Park in Linden and Madison Avenue Park in Rahway, he said.
The spending plan supports the initiatives of Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski, who is advocating for greater shared services between the County and municipalities, Oatman said. County officials are planning meetings with local officials to discuss potential opportunities for sharing services, he said.
The County will hold three public meetings on the budget, during which various county departments will present to the freeholders’ fiscal committee.
The schedule is as follows:
Monday, March 11 — Sheriff’s Office, Department of Corrections, Department of Engineering, Public Works and Facilities Management, Department of Parks and Recreation, Surrogates Office at the Union County Galloping Hill Golf Clubhouse, 3 Golf Drive, Kenilworth.
Tuesday, March 12 — Election Board, Department of Economic Development, Department of Human Services, Department of Public Safety at the Union County Administration Building, sixth-floor freeholders meeting room, 10 Elizabethtown Plaza, Elizabeth.
Monday, March 18 — County Clerk’s Office, Department of Administrative Services, Office of County Counsel, Prosecutor’s Office at the Westfield Municipal Building, 425 East Broad Street, Westfield.
Public comment is not permitted at these meetings. However, the freeholder board must hold a public hearing on the budget before its final adoption later this year.
County Taxes paid in 2018 on the typical home (Source: Union County Tax Board)
- Summit City - $4,967
- Berkeley Heights Twp. - $2,966
- Clark Twp. - $2,265
- Cranford Twp. - $2,590
- Elizabeth City - $1,485
- Fanwood Boro. - $2,357
- Garwood Boro. - $2,082
- Hillside Twp. - $1,240
- Kenilworth Boro. - $1,627
- Linden City - $1,460
- Mountainside Boro. - $3,168
- New Providence Boro. - $3,040
- Plainfield City - $1,279
- Rahway City - $1,223
- Roselle Boro. - $1,084
- Roselle Park Boro. - $1,372
- Scotch Plains Twp. - $2,724
- Springfield Twp. - $2,023
- Union Twp. - $1,475
- Westfield Town. - $3,897
- Winfield Twp. - $95
Average residential assessment in 2018 (Source: New Jersey State Division of Taxation)
- Summit City - $413,189
- Berkeley Heights Twp. - $312,196
- Clark Twp. - $122,896
- Cranford Twp. - $183,306
- Elizabeth City - $34,577
- Fanwood Boro. - $85,210
- Garwood Boro. - $102,246
- Hillside Twp. - $121,536
- Kenilworth Boro. - $180,948
- Linden City - $131,757
- Mountainside Boro. - $163,735
- New Providence Boro. - $294,853
- Plainfield City - $108,196
- Rahway City - $132,345
- Roselle Boro. - $117,845
- Roselle Park Boro. - $252,158
- Scotch Plains Twp. - $122,644
- Springfield Twp. - $161,621
- Union Twp. - $46,034
- Westfield Town. - $181,931
- Winfield Twp. - $18,418