I’m running for Hunterdon County Commissioner to bring a vision to our county. We need your help to overturn 50 years of one party stagnation
Tax Accountability and Straight Answers
Smart Growth & Redevelopment
A Message on our County Budget
Dan Connor, Democratic Candidate for Commissioner
Our Republican board of commissioners boasts about keeping Hunterdon County debt free. Their mantra, otherwise known as “The Big Brag” is, “We commissioners pay as we go.”
Pay as you go, easy when at the end of 2022, you held a $53,300,000 budget surplus to tap into. A surplus to use at your discretion. Others may refer to these surplus dollars as a slush fund. Fifty-three million, three hundred thousand dollars, is a lot of zeros. Ask the commissioners where they got it. I’ll give you a hint–it’s borrowed money and interest free. From where you ask? Well it is our money, and lest they forget, this isn’t Monopoly Money, it is OUR HARD EARNED MONEY!
They’ve been over assessing the needs of the county by budget line item, canceling services and selling assets for years. And mind you, neither canceling services nor selling assets has resulted in lower taxes. They’ve kept the money, ever-increasing the size of the slush fund. In the 2023 budget, 17% of the County’s contribution to the budget is that of surplus. This equates to $415 for the average Hunterdon County homeowner. Think of that and extrapolate that sum back over the past six years. Your single year loan of $415 to the county, becomes for argument’s sake a sum of approximately $2,000 plus. What could you do with $2,000? Perhaps make a payment on your student loan, maybe make 2 or 3 mortgage payments or place a down payment on a new car. Of course you could always invest your money and earn a return on the investment.
Unfortunately, our stewards of county finances aren’t limited to the restrictions most of us face. That is we live within our means and ironically most of us construct a budget to stay within those means. You see the county really doesn’t have need of a budget. They’ve got that big slush fund, your money, to make payments from. Whereas, you have to amortize an investment such as a house by making payments over an extended period of time to afford one. Our commissioners merely reach into their slush fund and pay off big capital investments. As example, perhaps a capital project we’ll call hypothetically, the Commissioners Monument Building. Traditionally voters have an approval of capital expenditures via a referendum. But not here in Hunterdon. Our board of commissioners simply pay for capital expenditures out of their slush fund. Remember the commissioners tell you they believe this to be prudent. And whereas, they don’t have a mortgage. Poor you, you’re still paying off yours. And couldn’t you use your money? If only it were available.
If you’re selling your home this is especially galling. You’re not even going to make use of the Commissioners Monument Building, yet you’re on the hook paying all of it down. Why aren’t the future home buyers paying off the building? After all they have the use of it for the next 15 years.
Here’s a summation of what I refer to as the big budget lies:
Big Budget Lie: The county is financing expenses by the utilization of surplus dollars as revenue. This surplus is buried in your tax bill, money unused in line items and money we should never have been taxed for to begin with. Our county surplus is huge at $53,300,000 and used so extensively to balance our budgets that the term county surplus would best be renamed the Hunterdon County Commissioners’ slush fund.
Big Budget Lie: “Freezing the tax rate is more than a talking point. Holding the line on taxes is all about helping our residents keep more of their hard-earned dollars in the face of rising prices everywhere else due to inflation,” promote the Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners. The fixed tax rate of .350% is a metric used by the Republican commissioners to mislead the residents. This figure is not unique. It is well in line with other counties. If your home value has gone up and your assessment has increased, your county taxes have also risen. Check your tax bill!
Big Budget Lie: Your money is protected against inflation when held by the commissioners. False! Your money is losing value against inflation. Current inflation is 3.7%. Which is the annual loss your money suffers when held by the commissioners. Held by you and invested conservatively online at a fixed common rate of 4.5% your money is earning nearly 8% over monies held by the commissioners!
Big Budget Lie: County revenues, what we call taxes continue to rise, 15.34% over the past 5 years! Taxes and expenditures continue to rise!
Big Budget Lie: Capital expenditures carried as capital service debt is poor financial planning. False! We just went through a period when interest rates were at a historic low. Money nearly free. Why wouldn’t we carry debt? Let’s look again at the edifice dedicated to political hubris, The Commissioners Monument Building. The building costs $2.5 million. Our board of commissioners would take your generous donation of $415 yearly and pay it all up front. Whereas, if it is a capital expenditure: one, you have a say by referendum if you even want it. Two, it’s costing you perhaps $96 per year and three, you just put back $300 in your pocket! Maybe next year you’re not even paying for it, you’re moving. Welcome to Hunterdon County new home buyers!
Big Budget Lie: Our current county revenues are comprised of 17% surplus and 17% from grants such as the American Rescue Plan. Well over $29 million of county expenses will be met by these revenues derived from sources other than taxation. I defy anyone to find another county budget as dependent on surplus. Inflation and the extravagance of the commissioners’ “pay as you go plan” will deplete the surplus and the temporary grants will disappear. So what is the plan to make up the $29 million budgetary shortfall in the future? The commissioners are running short on services to cut and facilities to sell.
Inflation and rising expenses will always be with us. Taking our tax rate and making misleading claims, that the rate is an indicator of stable tax revenues is a sham. Your county taxes and county expenses continue to rise. Pay as you go is a gimmick that relies much too heavily on surplus and eventually will collapse. The fact is that at the end of 2022, the county held $53,300,000 in surplus. A sum of over $400 per each resident of Hunterdon County. This is but one aspect of the commissioners’ blind loyalty to party and their arrogant disdain and disconnect with us, their constituency. What is needed now is real prudence, a clear vision of our future, real budget planning and remembering that the revenue we’re working with is… our money!
My name is Dan Connor and I am the Democratic candidate for Hunterdon County Commissioner.
For more information, follow me on Facebook.com/DanConnorforCommissioner or at
Meet Dan - Hunterdon County's Next Commissioner
Hunterdon County Commissioner 2023