Archive for the ‘Budgets’ Category

UCCF 4/27/17: Hoarding Surplus


.
After months of review the freeholders came up with a savings of $724 thousand to get the amount to be raised by taxation for 2017 to $354,769,823 (an increase of $9,495,027 from the 2016 tax levy of $345,274,766). As you will see in this blog there could have been NO tax increase (as is the case in at least three other counties) or there could have even have been a substantial tax DECREASE. It all comes down to the surplus.
.

.
Surplus is an essential aspect of government budgeting. Budgets need to prepared at the beginning of the year and money anticipated to be coming from the state or federal governments cannot be included. Usually that money comes in throughout the year and the surplus remains.

In 2014 Union County sold Runnells Hospital.

With that as background the rest of this story will be told in spreadsheets based on data from Union County budgets going back to 2005 and surplus figures from all counties for 2016 and from the fourteen counties that have their budgets online for 2017 as well as the corresponding tax amounts for 2016 and 2017. Draw your own conclusions.

Continue reading

UCCF 4/27/17: UCUA Lost Million

Here is the revenue page showing the Union County Utilities Authority (UCUA) item going from $2,000,000 in 2016 to $1,000,000 in 2017:

ucua revenue

That $2 million amount from the UCUA first appeared in the 2012 budget (page 30) as part of the debt-extension deal pushed through in 2011 and had been at $2 million through 2016. However, the UCUA has had trouble coming up with the tonnage they guaranteed so Covanta is squeezing them and, by extension, Union County taxpayers.

UCCF 3/23/17: Exceeding More Budget Caps

2017-262: Authorizing the County Board of Taxation to exceed the County Entity Budget CAP (P.L., 2015, c.249)

2017-263: Authorizing the Office of the County Prosecutor to exceed the County Entity Budget CAP (P.L., 2015, c.249)
.

.
The question was not answered so here is the state’s official explanation of the new cap:

P.L. 2015, c. 249, signed into law on January 19, 2016, was enacted to limit the annual increase in the portion of certain county entity budget requests funded by the county property tax levy. The law became effective upon signing and shall first apply to the county budget year commencing on January 1, 2017. The law applies to the following county offices (called “county entities” under the law):
  • Prosecutor
  • Sheriff
  • Clerk
  • Surrogate
  • Register of Deeds & Mortgages
  • Superintendent of Elections
  • Board of Elections
  • Board of Taxation
The law controls increases in the budgets of the above-referenced county entities, thereby closing a loophole in the laws capping county levy increases.

UCCF 3/23/17: $354,769,823

From tonight’s freeholder meeting:

2017-261: Resolution to exceed the County tax levy limit and to establish a CAP Bank (N.J.S. 40A: 4-45.14).
2017-262: Authorizing various county entity/entities to exceed the County Entity Budget CAP (P.L., 2015, c.249)
2017-263: Authorizing various county entity/entities to exceed the County Entity Budget CAP (P.L., 2015, c.249)
2017-264: Resolution Introducing and Approving the Annual Budget of the County of Union for the Fiscal Year 2017
Which resulted in this from that 2017 budget introduced tonight:

uc16budget

So with those resolutions to exceed tax levy limits over the years did Union County raise taxes the most they were legally allowed to in 2017?
.

.

uctax

UCCF 3/9/17: 2017 Budget & Miscellany


.

.
More Pay-To-Play:
.

.
2017-220: Awarding a Professional Engineering Service Contract to T&M Associates of Middletown, New Jersey to provide ongoing LSRP Environmental Consulting Services associated with the Meisel Park Project, Springfield, for an amount not to exceed $49,600.00. (NJDEP Case 99-04-28-1512 and 01-08-29-1446-05; NJDEP Program Interest ID#t30838; Union County Engineering Project #201 1-030)

2017-222: Authorizing the County Manager to award a Professional Engineering Service Contract, through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, to Alaimo Group Consulting Engineers, of Mt. HoUy, New Jersey to provide Design, Construction Administration and Inspection Services for the Emergency Generator-Department of Public Works (DPW) Facility, Scotch Plains, New Jersey for an amount not to exceed $85,420.00. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2013-028)

2017-223: Authorizing the County Manager to award a Professional Engineering Service Contract, through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, to Maser Consulting, PA, of Red Bank, New Jersey to provide Engineering Design Services for Dam Repair Improvements for an amount not to exceed $82,108.00. (Union County Engineering Project Number 2016-043)

2017 County Budget Fallacies

The County Manager’s introduction of his 2017 Executive Budget took place after public comment time this year.  Usually it kicks off the meetings but what with the Summit people attending to ask for no tax increase and the sophistries included in the prepared statement he read it seemed a better idea not to open up this propaganda to question:

faella-budget

Sometimes they say the Executive Budget is less than last year’s total budget but the scam is the same. A lot of budget money comes from grants which would be all-inclusive for 2016 but only partial for 2017 so you are comparing two different things. The County Manager has to understand this (or else we are all in much bigger trouble) but coming out with such specious statements in public without fear of the derision they rightly deserve belies a contempt for the fiscal awareness of his audience (not only the public but the media and most of the freeholders) that partially explains why Union County regularly appears on lists of the highest taxed counties in the nation.

The truth is that Union County is, has been, and will continue (until you people collectively wake up) raising taxes to the highest levels they believe they can get away with.

Looking over the 2017 tax cap calculation you find:

Cap-max

$355,493,819.94 is the maximum amount the county CAN raise taxes to based on their calculation of the tax cap.

Adding this 2017 tax amount (excluding of course the Open Space tax which is an add-on) to past budgets we have this sad history:

UCTAXHIST

 

There is a good chance we will get a token decrease of that 2017 number as the freeholders ‘sharpen their pencils’ (or more accurately pay some general expenses through debt or Open Space tax money) but the trend is unmistakable – and disheartening.

Summit Budget Pleas

From the February 23, 2017 freeholder meeting visited by Summit residents:
.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.