May 21, 2006

$100 Million Dollar Man

During a pre Election Day interview with the Westfield Leader in October of 2000, then UC Freeholder Vice Chairman Alexander Mirabella was quoted as saying “We are looking at ways to control the budget and keep costs down.” At that time the County budget was a tad over $300 million. Within the next few weeks the UC Board of Chosen Freeholders is expected to approve a budget which is a tad over $400 million. Freeholder Mirabella, now Chairman of the board, can truly be referred to as Union County’s very own “$100 Million Dollar Man”.

Taxes increased 50% since Y2K

The all Democratic Freeholder board will argue that under their guidance taxes have not increased 50% since the year 2000, for anyone can see that the budget has increased only 33.3%. Well let’s get real here, there is a difference between the words taxes and budget and herein lies the truth. County government arrives at a figure that they say is necessary to run the county, which includes payroll (this year making up a whooping 39% of the budget), insurance, building maintenance costs, debt service (loan payments), county cars, utilities, concerts in the park etc, etc.

The issue now becomes, “How are we going to pay for all of this?”

The answer is anticipated revenues which is made up of monies the county takes in through fees charged to use the parks or play a round of golf, grant monies received from the state and federal governments, income from investments and of course the tax levied on real estate appearing on the back of your tax bill and paid through your municipality. The county will also throw in some of its own money that it has sitting around in the surplus, which is by the way rapidly dwindling.

In the year 2000 after evaluating the anticipated revenues versus the proposed spending it was determined that the tax payers would have to kick-in $151 million thru the tax levy. Now, in 2006 it has been determined that the tax levied directly on the residents must be $226.6 million, an increase of $75.6 million clearly a 50% increase over 2000.

"Fun with numbers"

The figures do not lie; county taxes have increased 50% in 6 years. The Freeholders can have fun with numbers and spin the story all they want but 50% is still 50% and 50% in 6 years is unacceptable.

When comparing the 2005 budget to the 2006 budget nothing has changed, they appear to have started with what was spent last year and just added on more, than put out a press release in January that there would be cuts and every department would have to reduce expenditures.


Well, what happened? What was cut? Where is the belt tightening? We have been waiting since the year 2000 for the Board of Freeholders to control the budget and keep costs down, they have failed miserably.

It is time for the residents of Union County to send a message to the “$100 Million Dollar Man” that they do not have “Bionic” wallets.