Gloucester board opts to leave tax rates unchanged

Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Apr 12, 2013 - 09:13 AM

Gloucester residents will not see a tax increase next year.
It was the consensus of the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors to keep the county’s real estate tax rate at its current rate of 65 cents per $100 of assessed value during its work session Thursday night in the colonial courthouse. Supervisors previously decided during an April 3 work session to keep the rate at which boats are assessed the same.
Not raising the real estate tax rate by the original four cents as proposed or increasing the boat tax will force supervisors to implement $2.3 million in tough cuts when it formally adopts the budget Tuesday night.
One of these cuts comes in the local transfer to Gloucester County Public Schools, which is reduced by $884,000, leaving the school system with a local transfer increase of only $261,840 over its current level. The school board had requested a local transfer increase of $1.8 million in its original budget proposal.
The school system needs $451,000 in local funding to be able to give its employees the 2 percent pay increase that was included in the governor’s budget. Kiser said the proposed $262,000 in the local transfer will also force the school system to cut 15 to 20 more positions, which he hopes can be accomplished through attrition.
Not raising the tax rate also forces the two proposed school resource officers to be cut out of the budget, at a cost savings of approximately $140,000.
Most supervisors seemed to think that two deputies rotating the five elementary schools would not be the best solution to keep the elementary schools in the county safe. “Tragedy can happen,” said York district supervisor Carter Borden. “But I think we’re getting hyped up and spending a lot of extra money.”
At-large supervisor Louise Theberge said that she would rather see the proposed VOIP (voice over internet protocol) system implemented in the schools. “I think that’s the biggest thing we can do for safety,” Theberge said.
Finally, no increase on the tax rate will also reduce the parity adjustment as recommended in the county’s pay and compensation study by $400,000. Garton had initially included just over $900,000 in the proposed budget to bring county employees up to the pay study’s recommendations.
Other savings come in the form of eliminating the vehicle/equipment capital reserve by $400,000 and reducing the county’s extra debt reserve by $370,000.
Borden praised Garton for coming back to the board quickly with a balanced budget not including any tax rate increase. “You are good at forming a budget,” Borden said. “You’re good at everything you do.”
The meeting for the budget adoption is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the colonial courthouse.