Thirty-four people will be laid off under the 2010 budget approved last week by Cumberland County officials.

The nearly $143 million spending plan was approved 6-1 Thursday night by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. Of that total, nearly $83 million - about the same amount as last year's budget - will be raised through property taxes.

The budget is about $2 million more than last year's. Grants, the county surplus, and other revenue sources are expected to cover the difference.

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The 34 layoffs had been proposed when the budget process began several months ago. Interim Public Information Officer Keith Wasserman said 11 of the 34 layoffs went into effect May 12. The remaining 23 county employees facing layoffs will work until July 1.

Those facing layoffs are both union and nonunion employees. County Human Resources Director Joe Rossi said no individual department was targeted. The departments were all examined, and layoffs were made based on which positions would have the least effect on county services if they were eliminated.

The only departments without layoffs were those related to public safety, such as the 911 dispatch center, Wasserman said.

An additional 40 positions in the county are being lost through attrition or consolidation, officials said Thursday. Remaining employees and administrators will face furlough days this year.

Freeholder Director Lou Magazzu said in a statement that the budget process included more than 40 hours of public meetings and private discussions with the specific purpose of finding the "most equitable formula for sharing the pain."

The effect on the taxpayer is still unknown. Unlike municipalities, which adopt a budget along with a tax rate, the county Board of Taxation calculates a new tax rate every year based on an equalization ratio.

Chief Financial Officer Marcella Shepard said the ratio, based on a formula provided by the state, calculates true property values.

Last year's apportioned tax rate was 84.57 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Although the amount of the budget to be raised through taxes remains the same, a possibility exists for a small tax increase because of tax appeals and a declining ratable base.

Contact Edward Van Embden:


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