By Deputy Freeholder Director Gary Rich
When I ran for Freeholder in 2011, I ran on the promise that I would spend every day in office working for the taxpayers of Monmouth County. Three years later, Monmouth County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders has just delivered its fourth straight budget with no change to the property tax levy. Four straight years.
This wasn’t simply chance and luck had nothing to do with it. I fought hard and committed to making tough cuts in order to meet our commitment to Monmouth County taxpayers—to provide the high level of services our residents are accustomed to while employing the utmost fiscal prudence.
In 2010, the Monmouth County budget peaked at $493,400,000. Since then, this Freeholder Board has reduced the budget to the tune of $12.5 million in total savings over the last four years. And this is to say nothing of the $60+ million in spending that was cut over the same time period as a result of the budget work that happens all year long behind the scenes.
It’s not without its challenges. The budget process requires a delicate balance. After all, a low budget and no tax increase mean nothing if taxpayers then suffer due to declining and diminished services. The County still has to provide the services that our residents need – that’s its mandate. But it’s the mandate of the Board of Chosen Freeholders to make sure we’re providing that top-notch service in the most efficient and effective way possible.
That’s why when I was first took office in 2012 and each year since, I accepted the position of Freeholder in Charge of Finance and Administration with direct responsibility for setting the budget and cutting expenses—because I’m passionate about making sure government runs efficiently and meets its fiscal responsibility to the people who foot the bill—you.
It’s easy for candidates to talk about the changes they would implement once in office. But when you are given the honor by your community to serve elected office, where the rubber meets the road is when you continue to look for and implement programs, policies and procedures that will keep moving government forward as well as understand when attenuation and realignment provide the most benefit.
I take no pride of ownership. I know this might seem unusual for a politician, but although I serve elected office, I have never considered myself a politician. I want to identify areas for improvement, because that’s how we continue to make Monmouth County the best community in New Jersey.
That’s why I work each day in office to implement innovative ideas to keep improving Monmouth County government.
I’ve been around long enough to have watched how much government has grown over the last few decades. Although much has changed, one thing that remains steadfast is my philosophy that bottoms up government is our path to a better future. It’s what drives me to continue fighting for what’s right for my fellow citizens.