For the fourth straight year, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a county budget with no tax increase.
At their meeting April 10 meeting the Freeholder Board, comprised of 5 Republicans, adopted $480.9 million budget, a $100,000 spending reduction from last year’s budget. The amount raised through property taxes is $302,475,000, the same amount raised every year since 2010.
“It is a challenge every year to try to cut spending without impacting the level of services our taxpayers have come to expect,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry. “This process is not something that is done in haste. This budget reflects the months of work that has gotten us to a flat tax rate for the fourth year in a row.”
“This year, an internal budget subcommittee met with each department to look for duplicative services and identify areas for consolidation and savings,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gary J. Rich, Sr., liaison to the Finance Department. “This process has yielded savings in the areas of information technology, finance, human resources, building maintenance and legal services.”
Monmouth County relies less on taxes than most other New Jersey counties. As a percentage of the overall budget, Monmouth County’s taxes comprise 62 percent of the total budget, historically behind Union, Hudson and Essex counties.
“The department heads deserve a lot of credit for their hard work in paring down the budget,” said Rich. “This is the fifth year in which we asked for concessions from the departments and, as a result, this is the fourth year in which the tax levy has remained the same.”
Freeholders Curley and Arnone noted that a flat tax rate is as important as ever to the residents of Monmouth County.
“We have passed a budget that holds the line on taxes at a time when residents are grappling with rising household expenses such as gasoline and groceries,” Freeholder John P. Curley said. “We have been able to make strides through outsourcing in many areas that, over the past few years, have led to multi-million dollar savings.”
“As Monmouth County’s economy faces continuing challenges in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the County continues to help our municipalities and businesses save money through shared services and economic development initiatives,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone. “Shared Services helps the County, too. We can purchase commodities, like salt, in bulk quantities and pass the savings on to participating municipalities.”
“Congratulations to all for working so hard to deliver a zero tax increase for the fourth year in a row,” Freeholder Serena DiMaso said. “It is quite an accomplishment during these difficult economic times. I am proud to be part of a board that continually puts the taxpayers first in its decision making.”
Joe Grillo and Larry Luttrell, the Democrats nominated to challenge Burry and Rich in the November election, did not respond to requests to comment on the budget. Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal did not issue a statement congratulating the taxpayers of Monmouth County or thanking the Republican freeholders.