Cumberland County officials will hold public hearings, and take final action, on two significant financial matters Wednesday night.
The Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders will consider a $125.8 million budget that will raise the county tax rate by almost 5 cents.
The board will also consider an $18.5 million bond ordinance to help finance a nearly $70 million full-time technical high school project on the Cumberland County College campus in Millville and Vineland.
The final votes on both measures – and especially on the technical high school legislation – may likely wind up along party lines: The two Republican freeholders contend the county is unwisely spending too much money on the high school project when less expensive options are available. The five Democrats on the panel support the project, saying it will improve educational opportunities and produce and better and more skilled county workforce.
The board will meet at 6 p.m. at the county administration building at 790 East Commerce Street in Bridgeton.
The proposed budget totals $1 million more than the 2013 spending plan.
The budget increases the amount of money to be raised by county taxation from about $85 million in 2013 to about $86.9 million in this year. That increases the county tax rate from 92.2 cents per $100 of equalized property value to 96.9 cents per $100 of equalized property value.
The county is using $4.4 million in surplus funds to prevent a greater increase in the county tax rate. The county allocated about $7 million in surplus funds to last year’s spending plan.
Meanwhile, the bond ordinance is for the county’s share of the technical high school project.
The state has already agreed to provide $48 million to help pay for things such as the cost of buying the land for the school and building the facility and its associated athletic fields.
When eventually finished, the full-time high school will be a two-story, 193,000-square foot facility built on more than 10 acres of ground next to the Cumberland County College campus and between Route 55 and College Drive. The building will have classrooms, a media center, cafeteria, technical laboratories, greenhouse and even a fitness center that would be open to the public.
The plan also calls for new athletics fields and parking for 630 vehicles.
Currently, Millville, Vineland, Bridgeton and Cumberland County Regional high schools send students to the Cumberland County Technical Education Center in Deerfield Township on a part-time basis.
County officials said that setup leaves students spending too much time riding buses and not enough time to meet state educational requirements.
Contact Thomas Barlas: