ELIZABETH – Union County Manager George Devanney’s $449.3 million 2009 budget proposal includes a 4.95 percent tax increase at a time when many households can ill-afford it.
Devanney’s proposal includes some spending and service cuts. He anticipates a $740,000 annual savings from shuttering the unprofitable Oak Ridge Golf Course in Clark.
An additional $4.6 million in annual savings is expected through retirements and unfilled vacancies in the sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices, among others, and anticipated layoffs in three departments. Devanney’s budget proposal calls for at least 28 layoffs and the elimination of 55 seasonal positions.
The budget proposal “makes cutbacks but maintains the core mission of county government, without overburdening taxpayers,” Devanney said.
Philip Morin, who leads the county Republican committee, said that the county is now paying for the “bloated payrolls of the late’90s and early 2000s.” He does agree with the decision to close the golf course, however. “If the reality is the business of operating a golf course is not working, it’s legitimate to cut.”
The pending increase in county taxes will vary by town. Linden residents will face the highest percentage hike – 12 percent – which translates into an extra $127 for the average homeowner.
The freeholders will take Devanney’s proposal and craft their own version to be introduced for final approval sometime this spring.