For the third straight year, Bucks County residents will not have a property-tax increase.
County commissioners yesterday adopted a $467.6 million budget for 2009 that dips into rainy-day money to hold the line on taxes.
Last month the county released a preliminary budget that projected a $7.1 million shortfall.
Since then, an extra half-million dollars in spending has been cut and an additional $3.4 million in revenue added. About half of the revenue gain came from increasing the expected tax-collection rate. The rest will come from selling a government-services building in Quakertown, additional gaming revenue from Bensalem's Philadelphia Park, and other sources.
An additional $3.2 million will be taken from the county general fund. The so-called rainy-day fund will still contain about $68 million, which county officials say will protect favorable bond ratings.
The budget marks the first time since the mid-1990s that Bucks has gone three years without raising property taxes. County Commissioners Chairman Jim Cawley praised Finance Director Brian Hessenthaler and department heads who helped make cuts in their operations.
Minority Commissioner Diane Marseglia, a Democrat, cast the only vote against adopting the budget. Like Cawley, Marseglia praised the county Finance Department and said it had functioned in spite of "almost no direct conversation with the commissioners, weak cooperation with several departments, and a shortage of public feedback."
In a statement, Marseglia said some department heads had ignored orders to propose even deeper cuts. She also took exception to a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for nonunion county employees, saying it was too high.