“It appears that county government is being squeezed”

From the Herald News:

Corzine hears county protest

Passaic County Freeholder Director Elease Evans laid out her fiscal frustration on Friday before Gov. Jon S. Corzine over reining in escalating government costs.

“It appears that county government is being squeezed,” said Evans at a New Jersey Association of Counties conference at which 150 officials pondered shared services as a way to reduce the property tax bite.

What was bothering Evans and other public officials was that a three-year reprieve for counties to exclude employee health insurance costs from the state-imposed spending limit is scheduled to end on Dec. 31. Now Passaic County officials must keep expenditures from 2006 to 2007 within the state’s 2.5 percent cap, lest the county face financial sanctions.

“For me, that’s $5 million I have to go find,” Evans said.

Corzine explained the spending cap was for the county’s, and the state’s, own good.

“We need the discipline of people looking for efficiencies in how we deliver services,” the governor said.

After a four-month attempt at property tax reform, state officials are putting the onus on local governments to come up with creative ways to reduce costs either through shared services or consolidation.

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