The $212.7 million county budget introduced by County Executive Dennis Levinson earlier this year was adopted by the Atlantic County Board of Freeholders, 8-0, Tuesday, March 12.
“The 2019 county budget is $5 million less than last year with a nearly 2-cent reduction in the general purpose tax and no tax increase. We are extremely proud of this fiscally conservative spending plan,” Levinson said. “We continue to put the interests of our taxpayers first.”
This does not mean the county is resting on its laurels, Levinson said, but rather, it is actively implementing its countywide economic development strategy to attract, retain and grow business in Atlantic County.
“While we have maintained our strong financial management practices, as recognized by both Moody’s Investors and Standard and Poor’s financial services, we have exercised foresight in planning for our future and that of our children and grandchildren so they may be able to stay and thrive in Atlantic County,” he said.
Part of this effort includes development of the National Aviation Research and Technology Park. Its mission is to enhance aviation sciences by creating a consortium of industrial, academic and governmental partnerships that will promote sustained economic growth and job creation in Atlantic County and throughout New Jersey.
“The park’s first building was completed on schedule and on budget. Based on increasing interest, we are developing plans for the second of seven buildings,” Levinson said.
The NARTP is also included in a newly created aviation innovation hub comprising a one-mile area around the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center, the nation’s premier air transportation testing facility, and the Atlantic City International Airport, which has recently been designated as a Smart Airport test bed research facility.
“Atlantic County is now the center point of an emerging aviation industry in New Jersey. We have developed strategic partnerships with major aviation companies and institutions including Boeing, Lockheed, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, National Institute of Aviation, General Dynamics, the FAA, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and more,” he said.
Levinson said he is also excited about opportunities for the development of offshore wind energy that will also create new jobs, many of which will require similar skills to those in aviation repair and maintenance. The county is working with Embry-Riddle to implement its aviation STEM initiative in local high schools. The program will enable successful students to earn college credits and industry certifications prior to graduating.
“The goal is to help improve the skills of our workforce to meet the growing needs of technology-related fields and make it more attractive to potential employers,” he said.
“Atlantic County residents and taxpayers can be assured that their county government is hard at work for their benefit. We are in sound financial shape with good reason to be optimistic about our future.”