Freeholders debate using surplus to avoid tax increase

Bill Whelan and Carol Musso argue for a tax increase as Tom Sheppard and the Republicans look at ways to avoid an increase. At least that is how I interpret the arguments pro and con about dipping into the surplus.

Sheppard shopped that figure around the freeholder board at Tuesday night’s board meeting, stating the finance committee — made up of himself, Freeholder Director Carl Kirstein and Freeholder Bill Whelan — had been able to shrink the current 2012 budget deficit down to $960,000 last week, and then down to nothing through further cutting.

“I think we’re getting close to having a budget that we can present, and have the full freeholder board see what’s being considered,” said Sheppard toward the end of the meeting.

“If we use $7.5 million of the surplus, it looks like we’ll be able to hold the line on the tax levy.”

That money would then be replenished after the county realizes the proceeds from the sale of the Manor. The Manor was sold, after all, as a way to reduce the tax burden. Whelan and Musso want to increase taxes, and the only fear I can see of dipping into the surplus that much would be the risk of a decrease in the county’s bond rating. However, the money from the Manor is imminent, so that should not be a problem.

And as Whelan’s boy Bob Austino greedily gives himself a massive pay increase and the Democrats maintain an eery silence, it seems that nobody has any ideas of where to cut county expenditures even further. How about demanding that the sheriff actually earn his pay and do his own job – and eliminate the totally unnecessary position of 2nd Undersheriff? That position was created purely as a patronage slot.

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