By Freeholder Director Arnone, Thomas[email protected]us
Mother Nature may be playing tricks on us with the weather again – she’s bringing in extremely low temperatures, then teasing us with spring like weather in the 60s this past weekend. But there is no trickery here at the County, I made a promise last month that I would provide our residents with a much needed tax break, and I am holding true to the that statement, along with my fellow freeholders by proposing an overall tax cut of $4.5 million. This is the first time, I believe, that freeholders have ever decreased taxes to the county residents.
We propose collecting $302.5 million from property taxes, down from $307 million just last year. At the end of 2015, Monmouth County completed the sale of its two care centers which eliminated the yearly operating losses that the facilities have incurred for several years. The public auction of the two facilities generated $32.4 million in revenue; approximately $18 million more than was projected.
With the profit from the sale of our nursing homes late last year, and by cutting costs we were able to reduce the county budget by $18.2 million. As I have said in the past, we made the extremely tough decision to sell the care centers last year to benefit not only residents of both facilities, but county employees as well. The residents should not have been forced to live in facilities that need capital improvements that we could not afford to do, and it certainly was not fair to our employees who took 0% salary increases the last four years.
This budget reduces the tax impact on residents and businesses and returns the amount to be raised by taxation to the 2010 level. Last month, I called for a roll back of last year’s 1.4 percent tax increase and we have achieved that. The budget plan continues the efforts of our Freeholder Board to reduce spending while dealing with mandated costs that continue to rise.
We have accomplished this while holding steady with the amount collected through taxes and retaining our ‘AAA’ bond rating from all three major bond-rating agencies, a feat only a 32 counties nationwide have achieved. The financial strength of the County allows municipalities, school board and other government agencies to borrow money through the Monmouth County Improvement Authority at the lowest possible interest rate.
County residents should also know that the County’s Shared Services program helps both the County and the towns reduce spending; we can purchase commodities, like salt, in bulk quantities and pass the savings on to participating municipalities.
The County budget is tentatively scheduled for adoption following the official public hearing on March 24 at the Headquarters Library in Manalapan on Symmes Road at 7:00 p.m.
Thank you for your continued support and input.