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CMC tax increase

 
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kenzo



Joined: 09 Oct 2007
Posts: 571

PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:56 pm    Post subject: CMC tax increase Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Written by Bill Barlow
Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:35
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O’Connor to unions: open contract or see layoffs
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE -- With costs up, ratables down and the economy still stuck in neutral, Cape May County is looking at an increase in the 2011 budget even as county officials work to cut costs.

The last county budget came in at $142 million, and county administrator Stephen O’Connor said he’s looking at a “modest increase” to that when budget discussions with the Board of Freeholders kick off 2 p.m. today (Thursday, Jan. 20) at the County Administration Building, 4 Moore Road, off the Garden State Parkway. Further talks may take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, after which point the county governing body is expected to introduce the budget, with that meeting to start at 4:30.

A public hearing will be held on the proposed budget 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 22, with a final vote planned that day.

For years, Cape May County avoided any increase to the tax rate, even while budgets climbed over the $100 million mark, as continuing increases in the overall value of taxable real estate in the county skyrocketed. Known as ratables, the assessed values throughout the county increased year after year, especially in the shore towns, leaving the county with annual surpluses big enough to start kicking some back to municipalities in the form of annual grants for improvement projects.

Those grants are a thing of the past. The total county ratable base dropped by millions of dollars last year, and O’Connor expects another drop this year. The change in ratables alone would equate to an increase of a half cent on the county tax rate, set per $100 of assessed value.

Meanwhile, other revenue is down as well. Fees at the county clerk’s office used to bring in $8 million to $9 million a year, while O’Connor said this year the county will be lucky if it makes $4 million, and like everyone else in the current economy, investments are down as well. Interest on investments used to show $2 million or $3 million in income each year, while now it comes closer to $300,000.

Some costs continue to rise, but according to O’Connor, the county launched several task forces some years ago to try to save money. In one example he cited, the county Home Health Agency used to lose about $800,000 a year, but the county has contracted with an outside firm through the hospital, and after bidding the service out now brings in between $150,000 and $200,000 a year on licensing fees, a million-dollar difference in the yearly budget.

There are other privatization and shared services efforts, including an agreement with Avalon, Lower Township and Upper Township to take over maintenance of heavy equipment for the county.

Mayor Richard Palombo said the agreement would provide Upper Township with a new revenue source and the ability to use county vehicles for local capital improvements.

“That could save us money on infrastructure projects and we should realize some money from the agreement,” he said.

In most cases, public agencies are locked in to contracted wage increases, but according to O’Connor, the county expects to reduce spending by spreading planned raises for county workers over two years.

According to O’Connor, county officials are working on a plan to open up contracts for many county workers. If an agreement can’t be reached with county workers, O’Connor promised layoffs, with between 30 and 35 workers facing job loss.

With about 1,000 employees, the county government is one of the largest employers in Cape May County.

Current contracts include raises this summer, but O’Connor wants to take the unusual step of reopening the contracts of hundreds of county workers to spread the raises out over two years.

“These are unusual times,” he said. “You’re seeing a lot of contracts being reopened throughout the state. When we settled three years ago, it was a much different state of affairs.”

The police collective bargaining units, representing officers in the county jail, the sheriff’s office, and the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, are on board, but talks continue with the county’s largest union, Local 3596 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Those workers are set to receive a five percent increase this summer, the last year for the current contract. Under a proposal from county government, that raise would be split up and the contract extended, with workers getting two-and-a-half percent each year.

An agreement would mean there would be no layoffs, O’Connor promised, and there would be no more of a contribution toward the health plan than the state-mandated one-and-a-half percent of wages.

So far, that agreement has proven elusive.

Union members roundly defeated the proposal in a November vote, but the local’s executive board backs the deal, and is pushing for a vote to include all of the county’s union members.

Joe Gariffo, the president of Local 3596, said “we’re at an impasse right now,” but he expects something to happen by the end of the month.

According to Gariffo, the vote in November was called by AFSCME Council 71, representing more than 6,000 union members in eight South Jersey counties. Gariffo said the council called for what’s called a quorum vote, meaning those attending each get a vote, among the members at a November union meeting. The proposal was roundly defeated in that vote, but the local has challenged the vote to the International, saying a quorum vote is not allowed for collective bargaining agreements.

“If it’s going to be turned, we want it turned down by an entire voting block, not just 90 people that were there on Nov. 13,” Gariffo said.

The union represents more than 600 county workers, and he argues that each should have a vote.

“At a later date, we’ll notify everybody to vote by paper ballot. Each union member will be notified of the time, date and place,” he said. “We’re trying to get it off as soon as possible. There’s a lot riding on this. If we don’t go for this, we’re definitely going to have layoffs.”

He said the local definitely wants to go with the county’s deal, although he said he wants to sit down with O’Connor and Barbara Bakley-Marino, the county personnel director, to further hammer out details.

Still, a majority of the members at the November meeting rejected the deal, and there are union members who would rather take the contracted raise and their chances on layoffs.

“That’s the problem; to say a paper ballot would guarantee a yes vote, we just don’t know,” Gariffo said.
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Scorpion



Joined: 08 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:24 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Funny how O'Connor was blessed with his new 5 year contract and a guaranteed yearly increase over and above 2% during "these unusual times."

How about laying off all the county cronies who already have generous pensions. Stop creating new positions with ridiculous salaries for friends and family. Maybe then you can make budget without a "modest increase" to the taxpayers.

By the way, thanks for giving North Wildwood's political regime that million dollar Christmas gift that went into the pocket of our illustrious (cough cough) Council President. Way to help them save face during "these unusual times."
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barracuda



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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:48 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

How much is this "modest increase" in taxes for the County budget?
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THEshadow



Joined: 01 Feb 2010
Posts: 154

PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 8:26 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

barracuda wrote:
How much is this "modest increase" in taxes for the County budget?


HOPEFULLY IT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU MOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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barracuda



Joined: 08 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:29 am    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

Or, the County could cut your Undersheriff job and have you perform something closer to your skill set...like follow around the Zoo's mounted police and pick up the horse dung.
Laughing Laughing
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ImWatchinU



Joined: 05 Oct 2007
Posts: 881

PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

barracuda wrote:
Or, the County could cut your Undersheriff job and have you perform something closer to your skill set...like follow around the Zoo's mounted police and pick up the horse dung.
Laughing Laughing


Is this how you would have talked to people if you had won the election? Pretty classless for a wannbe politico.
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Prayin_Mantis



Joined: 04 Sep 2008
Posts: 7141
Location: GreenDome

PostPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:44 pm    Post subject: Add User to Ignore List Reply with quote

THEshadow wrote:
barracuda wrote:
How much is this "modest increase" in taxes for the County budget?


HOPEFULLY IT'S ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU MOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


That is no way for the coppers to treat the people Shocked
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