Larry O’Donnell had a thougth-provoking letter to the editor recently. It is good reading.
To the Editor:
Cumberland County has received considerable negative recognition in recent years for coming in first on all the wrong lists, from having the highest unemployment rate in the state, to the greatest percentage of children living in poverty.
Cumberland County is the poorest county in the entire state. No other county suffers the hardship our citizens have to endure.
Now here’s a shocker: As of 2011, Cumberland County has the highest (abstract) property tax rate in the entire state. That’s right, at 91 cents per $100 of assessed value, we are at the top of another list, residents in no other county pay as much. We pay a greater percentage of our wealth as measured by ratables than any other county in the state, and that’s just not fair!
Spending is the cause. Although some of our freeholders will be quick to tell you how much they’ve cut (watch out for these guys), all you need do is look at the tax levy.
If it hasn’t been reduced, and it hasn’t, spending has not been cut. Just last month, the freeholder board approved borrowing $8.5 million for a new library and building additions at Cumberland County College. What a great deal, the state will reimburse half. Can’t pass that up regardless of the times.
Oh yeah, and that’s in addition to $10 million worth of college debt already on the books. Taxpayers will be paying on this debt for quite a few years to come. On top of that, the county allocates $6 million of taxpayer monies to Cumberland County College each year for operating cost. Wow, where does it all end! It ends when county government functions like a business, establishes limits, and puts controls in place. Right now, no such disciplines exist. Their approach is to throw the seeds (tax dollars) and hope they grow.
At last month’s freeholder meeting, the “Cumberland County 2012 Budget Presentation” was given by Deputy Director Sheppard. If passed in its present form, it will serve as a testimonial our freeholders don’t get it. Clearly unsustainable, the proposed budget relies heavily on the proceeds gained by the sale of the Manor rather than sound financial planning.
The plan holds taxes level this year, but projects increasing the tax levy (spending) each year thereafter through year 2016. Over the same time period, it projects no gains in ratables (citizens wealth).
If this scenario is realized our tax rate will have increased to nearly a $1 per $100 assessed value, and shall most certainly ensure the citizens of Cumberland County maintain their position as having the highest tax rate in all of New Jersey.
There is one way to fix this — don’t vote them back in!