By Cleve Bryan
BRIDGETON, N.J. (CBS) – Faced with a shrinking tax-base and the fifth property tax increase over the last six years, Cumberland County officials are taking the unusual approach of self-eviction.
They plan to sell the County Administration Building on E. Commerce Street and move staff to a smaller county-owned property on W. Broad Street in downtown Bridgeton.
“We have to find a way to control costs,” says Freehold Director Joe Derella.
The sale could bring in more than a million dollars, save on maintenance costs and create a new taxable property.
“The biggest thing is how do we draw more ratables into our community,” says Derella.
Since 2009 Cumberland County lost about a billion dollars in total property values.
“Nationally they’re telling us that prices have increased three percent and everything is on the upswing, and unemployment is down to a normal rate, but in this county we’re just not seeing that,” says Michele Wheaton, president of the Cumberland County Board of Realtors.
To stabilize the already rising taxes the county is taking several measures in addition to selling the administration building.
They are closing the county juvenile detention center by July and have eliminated almost 400 county jobs during the last five years.