HACKENSACK, N.J. -- The Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Wednesday voted to introduce a budget with over $700,000 in savings the board identified.
The budget presented a particular challenges, with increases in the $544 million budget being largely driven by mandatory increases in prescription and health insurance costs and pension contributions. The board held over 20 meetings this spring to thoroughly examine the budget.
Cost savings were identified in every county department, ranging from as little as $700 in copier costs to nearly $400,000 in insurance payment savings discovered through conversations with the county's Risk Management Division.
"This budget was a challenging one, due to the increases in debt service and health and prescription costs that we had no choice but to budget for," said Freeholder John Felice.
"That said, as in previous years this was a bipartisan effort, with every Freeholder offering cuts from every single department in over 30 hours of budget meetings to try and keep the budget and taxes low. I believe this is a good budget, one that upholds our statutory obligations and cuts over $700,000 from the county executive's proposed budget, while maintaining the services that our most vulnerable residents rely upon."
Such services include partnerships with Bergen County's community-based mental health agencies, veterans outreach and homelessness prevention, and transportation and other services for seniors and disabled residents.
The county was also able to use increased revenue in several programs to improve services. For example, the Division of Consumer Protection budget includes establishing a tip line to help protect Bergen County residents from waste, fraud and abuse. While the division issued no fines and took in $0 in revenue in 2014, in 2015 it issued over $400,000 in fines and recovered over $350,000 for Bergen County consumers.
"As the father of a veteran I'm proud to introduce a budget that upholds our commitment to the men and women who sacrifice everything to keep us safe," said Freeholder Budget Committee member David Ganz.
The budget will now be advertised and reviewed by the state prior to its proposed adoption on June 15.
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