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Cape May County Budget Message for Year 2013
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton
On behalf of the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders – I’d like to offer this year’s message introducing the 2013 county budget.
Before I give you the particulars of the proposed budget for 2013, it is important to note that again this year we faced many challenges preparing the budget and learned once again that quick fixes were not an option. So, we continued as we started 2012 by rethinking and reorganizing county government knowing that the traditional approach to finance, budgeting and operations no longer works.
I am proud of what we as a Board and especially our employees accomplished in 2012 from providing quality services and programs with less employees and less dollars to handling the challenges and emergencies that came our way including devastating Super Storm Sandy in late October.
In 2013, we are focusing on investing in essential areas such as Infrastructure, Economic Development and Governmental Operations. We have bonded for 19 million dollars to improve and rebuild county roads and bridges including repairs to JFK Boulevard in Sea Isle City and replacing portions of Ocean Drive in Avalon completely destroyed during Super Storm Sandy forcing the closure of the Townsend Inlet Bridge.
Construction is scheduled to begin this year on a $17 million dollar renovation project to the County Correctional Center. Also, in 2013 we will reopen a renovated Senior Center in Upper Township, enhance the Veterans’ Cemetery, build new exhibits at the our county zoo and construct two state-of-the-art libraries – one in Wildwood Crest and one in Stone Harbor. Reinforcing our commitment to Economic Development, we have added another $55,000 in this budget. And finally, to enhance government operations, we have embarked on a comprehensive wellness program for our employees plus a leadership and management training program.
In developing the 2013 budget, for the second year in a row, revenues from transfer fees at the County Clerk’s office increased – this year they were up 18 percent and interest on investments went up slightly. However, for the fourth straight year, we had a staggering loss in our ratable base – in 2012 alone we saw a loss of over 2.1 billion dollars. Over this four year period, the county lost over 7.9 billion dollars in ratables – approximately a 15 % reduction in the county’s ratable base.
Despite these financial set-backs – I believe we are introducing a solid budget that will continue to protect the services that residents need and expect from county government – while staying affordable to the taxpayers of Cape May County.
This year’s budget has a tax rate increase of slightly over one cent and our tax levy at a 1.98 % increase. Keep in mind that most of this tax rate increase is directly attributable to the continued loss of ratables.
The specific overview breakdown of this year’s budget in rounded-off dollars is as follows:
The 2013 Budget complies with the New Jersey “CAP” Law. Public Hearing on the Budget will be held at 4:30 p.m. on February 26, 2013 in the Freeholders’ Meeting Room at the County Administration Building. Public comment and recommendations are welcome. In addition to being on hand at the Office of the Clerk of the Board at the Administration Building – this proposed budget will be accessible on the county website at capemaycountygov.net.
The Total County Budget for the Year 2013 is $138.3 million compared to the adopted 2012 Budget of $139.1 million. Total operating expenses are $70.6 million reflecting an increase of approximately $775,000. Total Salaries and Wages increased slightly to $44.9 million.
The amount of money to be raised by property taxes to support the 2013 budget is $96.4 million compared to $94.6 million for the year 2012. The amount of revenue other than property tax used to support the budget is $41.8 million.
The budget uses approximately 53% of our surplus. Specifically - $10 million of the available $18.9 million.
The County equalized tax rate for 2013 will be 20 cents per $100 of assessed value. Although it will vary depending on the ratio of assessed value to true value in each of the County’s sixteen municipalities; an average taxpayer will pay $204 for $100,000 of property assessment. Cape May County’s tax rate remains the lowest of any county in the State of New Jersey.
2013 Adopted Budget Document PDF