The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously approved the $211,067,689 budget Tuesday.
“This has been a long and arduous process this year,” said Freeholder Peter Palmer, finance committee chairman.
Palmer cited the following as among the highlights of the 2011 budget:
- No tax increase
- Continuing a three-year hiring freeze that includes reviewing vacant positions
- 149 fewer people on the county budget than there were three years ago
- Developing a spending plan that is less than previous years
- A budget that is $161,000 (about .08%) less than 2010, and a tax levy that is $168,000 less than 2010
- Employees (nonunion and 16 of the county’s 19 unions) who have accepted one-year wage freezes
The amount to be raised by taxes in the county will be unchanged.
“We have been able to reduce our headcount without having to result to layoffs," Palmer said. "Good luck to next year’s finance committee. It’s not going to get any easier.”
Deputy Freeholder Director Patricia Walsh thanked the senior management team for maintaining services.
“We have cut back on programs and will essentially continue to give excellent service to our residents,” she said.
Freeholder Jack Ciattarelli, also a finance committee member, applauded the staff for another job well done.
"Times call for austerity and this is an austere budget," he said.
Freeholder Director Robert Zaborowski echoed Ciattarelli’s sentiments.
“Everyone’s doing a little bit more with a little bit less,” he said.
The board also approved a resolution establishing a cap bank that is within the state’s 2 percent limit.
“We have never used any portion of the banked cap in Somerset County," said Brian Newman, county finance director. "The resolution is just for future flexibility.”