In tough financial times, it’s always great to receive positive news.

We have learned and confirmed that Atlantic County, New Jersey Executive Dennis Levinson’s 2023 budget features a 2-cent property tax rate decrease for Atlantic County taxpayers.

“I’m extremely proud of this budget and the fact we can reduce our tax rate to help residents keep a little more in their own pockets,” said Levinson.

“It’s important that we also take care of our workforce and continue to help them make ends meet as they are on the frontlines providing the vast variety of services on which our residents depend,” said Levinson.

Towards that end, reliable County of Atlantic sources have advised that Levinson will have more to say about his employees in the future.

The County of Atlantic has 23 bargaining unions and are currently negotiation with several of them.

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Levinson has operated for decades under a policy of not discussing salary negotiations publicly. However, Levinson did tip his hand that “benefits will be available for inclusion in their new contracts,” said Levinson.

“All union negotiations within the last several years have included offers by the county to raise starting salaries. The county has agreed to increase contracts in exchange for members accepting a 2030 health benefits plan that reduces their cost share contributions to provide more take-home pay,” said Levinson.

Every employee is offered a $400 incentive to move to this health benefits plan. It helps the county by reducing the overall health benefit line item.

Levinson is carefully navigating a course to provide improved overall employee wages, that result in an actual increase in net salary … not losing the salary increase to health benefit increases.

"We don't want to give them an increase that will be negated by higher insurance costs. What's the advantage in that? We want to provide more money in their paychecks,” said Levinson.

Levinson is also mindful and bound by the state of New Jersey 2 percent annual cap on budget increases.

To demonstrate how challenging this is, the anticipated health benefits increase year over year is 24%, coupled with the highest runaway inflation in 40 years.

"We live in challenging times, but county government's goal is to provide essential services in a cost-effective and efficient manner," said Levinson. "The fact that we've been able to do that while initiating measures to help our workforce and achieving a tax rate decrease for taxpayers is extremely gratifying,” said Levinson.

SOURCE: Atlantic County government.

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