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It’s Budget Time: McDonnell and the Freeholders are Struggling with Basic Math

January 26, 2010

We previously pointed out, Freeholder Deputy Director, Ed McDonnell is on record saying,  

“I long for the day when we say, “There’s enough money, we’re OK, we can give raises and institute some new programs.”   

Given the discussions at the latest freeholder meeting I wonder if he has any idea when “the day” may come.   

Ed McDonnell

Ed McDonnell

At the last freeholder caucus meeting, freeholder consultant, Lou Bezich, presented his report, “Camden County Transformation Initiative”.  As reported by The Retrospect, Bezich determined the county budget has a projected $20 million drop in revenue coupled with a $20 million hike in “unavoidable” cost increases.  Apparently, there was no explanation about what made the cost increases “unavoidable”.  

Using the most basic math, this year’s freeholder budget needs to “find” $40 million dollars.  This is done one of two ways, increase taxes or cut spending.  At some point, even our freeholders, will not want to raise taxes and they will look to cut spending.  The $40 million needed is more than 12% of the county’s $326 million dollar annual budget.  

Here is the plan: Consolidate, Consolidate and Consolidate!  

According to Bezich,  the county can save money by consolidating insurance policies, security services, courier services, human resources and procurement. Specifically, Bezich claims,  

“… consolidating human resource services should save over $1 million and, done properly, improve the overall process … and [s]ecurity services was another area eyed for $1 million or more in savings”.   

 The creation of a county insurance commission was discussed.  This group would look to consolidate the 53 insurance policies that cover various county entities.  While Bezich claimed “Rolling those separate policies into one could achieve up to $1 million in savings” he also conceded,  

The insurance savings will take time to achieve. … The savings is long-term.  

What we are left with is a clear plan to save $2 million dollars in a $326 million dollar budget.  Again, using basic math, $2 million dollars represents six tenths of 1% of the budget.  A whopping .00613 of the total budget has been saved.  As of this moment, Ed McDonnell has been conspicuously silent on the issue.  I guess when the “county insurance commission’s” “insurance savings” are “realized” he will the first freeholder to “give raises and institute new programs”.  

If the freeholders do  not “find” another $38 million dollars through consolidation expect them to do the unthinkable: raise property taxes.

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