Budget passes – Whelan says it was a mistake not to raise taxes

One thing we know for sure, when the Democrats take the Majority of the Freeholder board this fall, Cumberland County will see a tax increase next year. You can bet your mortgage on it – Bill Whelan is adamant that he made a mistake last year not increasing taxes, and fought voraciously this year to increase taxes. He is a wealthy banker, so property taxes are not really an issue for him.

However, I wager a guess that property taxes ARE an issue for a majority of Cumberland County residents. renters are hit with increased rental fees which are passed on to them by landlords. Homeowners have less to spend on food or gas. And Bill collects his generous salary as a banker, oblivious to the hardship endured by a majority of residents he feigns to represent.

The budget passed – strictly along party lines.

Following an exchange between freeholders Carl Kirstein and Bill Whelan that seemed to leave both sides exasperated, the board on Tuesday approved a 2012 budget using $7.5 million in surplus funds along a 4-3, party-line vote.

The difference between Democrats and republicans in the county is that the Republicans firmly believe that the excess money in the tax coffers actually belongs to the taxpayers. The Democrats believe it belongs to them, and should be hoarded. And while a surplus is necessary to cover unexpected emergencies and to maintain a quality bond rating, sometimes too much is too much.  Bill wants that surplus to be excessive, and to hit struggling taxpayers in the wallet. He even apologizes for NOT raising taxes last year.

“Last year, we used more money out of the surplus than any of the four years that I’ve been on the board, and I will fess up and say that was a mistake,” he said. “This year, we struggled with the budget, and I think it’s a good budget, but I feel the need to do something to protect the budget.”

There are only two ways to protect the budget without dipping into the surplus – either raise taxes, or reduce spending. Bill moved to increase budgetary line items in this budget indicating that he is not at all willing to cut spending.

“I’m very disappointed in that, Bill, because the only other thing is to raise taxes – you wanted more for the library and social services,” said Kirstein. “I wanted to hold their feet to the fire, but you were against that.

Property taxes in this county are out of control. Democrats have have over three decades of near total control in the county (with two short respites), and hence the are ONLY party to blame.

I suppose it is time to break the news, though I doubt it will be much of a surprise to our loyal followers. I will be relocating to Pinnel County, AZ in the autumn. Our house in Pinal County is is a quiet neighborhood – our town has none of the gun crimes and gang violence that distresses Millville, Vineland and Bridgeton, that we read about daily. The taxes for that house are less than $350 a year. We have all of the same services there that we have in Cumberland County, NJ,  except for trash collection. However, residents get to dump once a month with no tipping fee, and we can burn paper trash. Heck, a house that costs 3/4 of a million dollars pays less property taxes than we do for the house in the ghetto in Millville.

I count myself fortunate that I am one of the lucky few that can leave this god-forsaken state. It sickens me to see county government run by crooks and incompetents seeking only to pad their own pockets, provide jobs to friends, family and cohorts all the while doing absolutely nothing to create a county that is amenable to economic growth and attempt to actually reduce the burden on the taxpaying constituency. It is incomprehensible that rich people actually argue for tax increases that impact those that can least afford it the most. It is not even enough to hold the line on taxes. The entire political culture must undergo a radical change – but regardless of the party in control, it is Business as Usual in Cumberland County.

 

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