Yes – last year (it was an election year for Lou Magazzu) Lou did what he is known for – made a bad decision. He kept the county tax rate flat (kudos, when it is done correctly). Now the county faces a $7 MILLION shortfall.
A property tax increase, more layoffs, mandatory furloughs and more program cuts are all in consideration as Cumberland County government looks for a way to trim another $3 million to $4 million in spending. The budget likely will be introduced in June at about $140 million.
Lou walked into the election knowing damned well that the county would face a $4-8 MILLION shortfall this year. He LIED to the public, acting as if he had managed the county in a fiscally responsible way. How did he manage to not raise taxes last year? Rather than do the proper thing, which is to reign in spending (Lou continued to shower incompetent friends with county money, and allowed his friends to accept perks like health insurance and stipends for no-show jobs) Lou allowed spending on the county level to accelerate, and instead took money from the surplus.
Now facing imminent crisis, Lou is allowing people to lose jobs while he and he enjoys taxpayer subsidized health insurance. Lou needs to learn from the example of the Millville City Commissioners, all of who have agreed to forgo their option in the city health plan. They earn a piddling $7000 a year for the aggravation of being under the gun every two weeks, and they grieve over lost jobs and cuts to services that are necessary to keep the budget in line. And they are sharing in the pain. Lou on the other hand makes sure that he enjoys all of the perks he is entitled to, because Lou believes in entitlements. And if the entitlements are paid by the taxpayers, so much the better.
It us understandable that the current fiscal crisis would bring out the creative thinking necessary to reduce costs – but it is unfortunate that in over a decade Lou has managed to double county spending, and also almost double the county taxes paid by residents. If he had managed the county properly the past 12 years, the current crisis might not hurt as much as it is going to hurt the people (many are probably his political enemies) that will be losing their jobs.
A positive thing to come from this is the concept of a four-day work week. It has been done in California and Ohio with exceptional results. Longer work days provide access to county services to more people without the inconvenience of having to take time off from work. Most employees enjoy the three-day weekends, and the county saves a ton of money on overhead by having county buildings closed an extra day. No paying for heat, or air conditioning. The City of Millville is considering the same this coming year, along with a small cut in hours which will add up to significant savings overall.
Hopefully Lou and his merry band of puppets will do the right thing here, and drop their own health benefits as well as eliminating all perks for all part time employees as is done in the real world. It’s time that county taxpayers get relief from subsidizing Lou Magazzu’s friends with perks and no-bid contracts on our dime.