FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Freeholder Charles Kenny
Middlesex County Adopts 2014 Budget
That Holds Expenses at 2013 Levels
MARCH 7, 2014 – The Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders last night adopted the County’s 2014 Budget.
Freeholder Charles Kenny, chairman of the County’s Finance Committee said: “This Freeholder Board is dedicated to controlling the cost of County government so that our residents continue to receive the programs they need at costs they can afford.”
The $421.5 million overall gross operating budget reflects a one-half of 1 percent increase over last year’s budget, Kenny said.
Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios said the 2014 Budget follows the same principles the County has been using since 2008, namely streamlining County operations, introducing technology to increase efficiency and service quality and ensuring that no one-time revenue sources or surplus are used to balance the budget.
Rios said the County’s efforts have been recognized once again by Standard and Poors’ Bond Rating Service, which awarded the County a AAA rating, the highest rating possible.
“Our sound financial practices and our ability to hold the line on spending are the reasons we have maintained the Triple A rating,” Rios said. “The steps we have taken ensure that we are on strong financial footing now and in the future. This will be a catalyst in the economic growth of Middlesex County.”
Kenny said the County has been able to hold spending levels flat in part by saving $800,000 in utility costs with the installation of a solar panel field at our Apple Orchard Lane complex. The County continued to streamline procedures and processes, including consolidating rental properties, which will potentially save the taxpayers $500,000.
“We also have continued to harness new technology to replace labor-intensive and manual processes, which will enable our residents to access services more quickly and efficiently,” Kenny said.
The County saw a 5.3 percent increase in its recurring revenue over last year, primarily due to the County Clerk’s Office, which recorded an increase of $1 million. This signals a stabilization in the local economy, especially in the housing market.
The 2014 budget, like those of 2012 and 2013, does not rely on any one-time revenue sources or surplus to balance the budget.
“The strengthening of our local economy and our resolve to keep our expenses in check spells good things for the taxpayers of Middlesex County,” Kenny said.
The 2014 budget carries a decrease in debt of $74 million dollars or 10.56 percent from last year, which is consistent with the County’s objectives to ensure a strong debt management policy.
As a result of these financial policies, Standard and Poors’ once again awarded the County a Triple A bond rating.
In its summary of findings, Standard and Poors’ stated: “Middlesex County's management is strong, in our view, supported by good financial management policies and practices. (The County has) adequate budgetary flexibility with projections of improvement to levels we consider strong within the next two to four years.”
“The stable outlook reflects our view that Middlesex County is on a positive fiscal trajectory and in a strong position to build on reserves through positive operations,” the opinion read.
A Triple A rating means that the County can invest in our roads, buildings and bridges to ensure a strong, safe infrastructure and that it can build and maintain state-of-the-art educational facilities and communications networks at lower costs to taxpayers.
The 2014 Capital Budget, which funds these improvements, includes $27 million for infrastructure improvements, including our roads and bridges. Another $9 million in capital funds has been allocated to enhance emergency response capabilities, including emergency notification via a state-of-the art 800-megahertz radio system, which allows emergency responders across all disciplines to communicate effectively. The County also allocated $8.4 million for improvements to the infrastructure and educational facilities at the County College and Vocational-Technical Schools. Another $4.8 million dollars has been allocated for Community Services programming, including efforts to end homelessness.
“The 2014 Middlesex County budget is the result of a collaborative effort between this Freeholder Board and the County staff,” said Freeholder Director Rios. “In this changing world, it is our responsibility as public servants to enhance those programs and services our residents expect. Through our strategic financial planning and forward thinking, we will continue to meet these goals now and in the future.”