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☷ Burlington County New Jersey - Commissioners adopt 2022 budget that maintains affordability quality of life

☷ Burlington County New Jersey - Commissioners adopt 2022 budget that maintains affordability quality of life

Burlington County , state New Jersey
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   The Burlington County Commissioners voted to approve a 2022 County Budget that continues to fund critical programs and services , while also maintaining the county’s status as the most affordable in the region .
   The $230 . 3 million budget was unanimously approved by the Commissioners Wednesday night , along with the respective library and open space taxes . The approved spending plan calls for millions less in total appropriations compared to last year’s budget and keeps the County tax levy for government operations flat at $169 . 7 million .
   The County Library Tax levy will remain at $11 million , and the County’s Farmland and Open Space Tax will return to a rate of 2 . 5 cents per $100 of assessed value . The change equates to about $11 per household and is expected to generate a total of about $12 . 4 million for the county’s Open Space Trust Fund , which is dedicated to farmland and open space preservation , parks and trails improvements , and other Department of Resource Conservation and Parks programs . The open space tax remains well below the maximum 4 - cents per $100 rate authorized by county voters in 2006 .  
   “Responsible government means being good stewards with our residents’ tax dollars , and this budget reflects sound fiscal management , ” said Burlington County Commissioner Director Dan O’Connell . “It also reflects our county’s priorities and values , including a commitment to affordability and maintaining our residents’ quality of life through parks enhancements and the preservation of open space and farmland . ”
   Preserving affordability
   Burlington County had the lowest average county tax in New Jersey in 2019 , 2020 and 2021 , according to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs property tax data .
   Last year , Burlington County was one of only three counties where the average county tax decreased , according to the DCA data ,
   Burlington County also has the lowest cost per resident of any New Jersey county at $367 . Bergen was the next closest county at $469 per resident .
   “We are proud that we are the lowest - cost county in New Jersey and 24% less than the next lowest . And we expect to continue to be in 2022 , ” said Commissioner Felicia Hopson . “This financial record shows how we’ve been able to help keep Burlington County affordable for families and businesses while still responding to their needs , especially with all the challenges from the COVID - 19 pandemic . ”
   Preserving quality of life
   The County Parks System consists of more than 1 , 000 acres of developed parkland and more than 50 miles of interconnecting hiking , biking and running trails , plus several fantastic museums and art galleries .  
   The Parks Division also holds numerous programs and events that highlight the County’s natural resources , history , and diverse arts and culture .
   Last year , Burlington County opened a new 5 . 5 - mile segment of the Delaware River Heritage Trail between Bordentown and Florence , and this spring the County will open a new trail at Arney’s Mount in Springfield – Burlington County’s highest elevation – and a new Rancocas Greenway trail connecting Amico Island Park in Delran with Pennington Park in Delanco .  
   Burlington County also continues to be a national leader in the preservation of farms .  More than 63 , 000 acres of farmland has been preserved here , ranking Burlington County No . 1 in New Jersey for acres preserved and No . 7 in the nation .  
   “Burlington County has one of America’s best parks systems and we are a national leader in preserving farmland and open space , but more still needs to be done . Every day , we hear about developers targeting more and more land in our area and the outcry from residents concerned about the impacts , ” said Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion . “Restoring our open space rate will give our County the additional resources needed to expand our parks , save more farms and open space and protect the quality of life that is so important here . ”
   Fiscally responsible planning 
   The budget’s $169 . 7 million operations tax levy remains more than $6 million below what Burlington County is authorized to raise under the state’s 2% tax levy cap . It also maintains the county’s workforce and continues to fund critical services and infrastructure , including the County’s COVID - 19 response , public safety programs , senior services , workforce development and education .
   The County’s annual support for Rowan College at Burlington County , the Burlington County Special Services School District and the Burlington County Institute of Technology is maintained . The spending plan also supports programs that aid the county’s most vulnerable residents , including Meals on Wheels , the Housing Hub and the seniors nutrition program .
   The budget calls for the use of $10 million of the County’s $27 million in remaining fund balance from 2021 . County officials still anticipate finishing this year with a healthy surplus . Doing so safeguards the county from a prolonged economic downturn and contributes to its strong credit rating .
   The County budgeted $7 . 47 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to offset other revenue losses from the pandemic .  
   Despite the ongoing challenges from the health crisis , Burlington County’s financial position remained strong , according to Moody’s Investors Services in a report last month that maintained the County’s outstanding Aa1 credit rating .
   “Maintaining our stellar bond rating saves Burlington County taxpayers thousands of dollars annually through lower interest and financing rates , ” O’Connell said . “This rating and this budget are a testament to our hard work and sound fiscal management during the COVID - 19 pandemic and rising costs . We’re delivering smart and responsive government to our residents and helping to keep Burlington County the most affordable place to live in the region . This is what our residents have come to expect from us , and we are proud to deliver once more . ”
   

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