The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders have introduced a budget for 2017 that is $24.6 million lower than the 2016 budget and $11.8 million lower than 2006 spending.
The $445,250,000.00 spending plan will be the subject of public hearings on Thursday, March 9 at the Freeholders’ meeting to be held at the Monmouth County Library on Symmes Drive in Manalapan and on Thursday March 23 at the Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch at 1001 Rt. 35 North in Shrewsbury. Both meetings are scheduled for 5 p.m.
The County’s property tax levy is budgeted to be $302,475,000, the same amount it has been for 6 of the last 7 years.
“Our residents and businesses will again not see a tax increase from Monmouth County and they will have the level of programs and services remain consistent,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry. “The 2017 budget reduces the amount Monmouth County departments expect to spend by 5.24 percent and keeps the amount to be raised by taxation at the 2010 level.”
“For six of the past seven years, the tax levy has been flat,” said Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley. “We have introduced a budget that continues to hold the tax rate down as many residents continue to struggle to meet their daily household expenses. As our residents make tough budget decisions, the Freeholders and our departments must do so as well.”
The County annual budget covers the cost of providing for the maintenance of 1,000 lane miles of roads, more than 900 bridges, 16,000 acres of County parks, emergency management, 911 communications, law enforcement through the Prosecutor’s and Sheriff’s offices, elections through the County Clerk’s Office, probate and adoptions through the Surrogate’s Office,mosquito control and human services such as the Board of Health, aging, disabilities and veterans services and the SCAT transportation services.
“One of the reasons the Freeholders are able to deliver a flat budget and deliver exemplary services is by working diligently to retain our AAA bond rating from Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s,” said Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Esq. “The County’s AAA bond rating continues to be one of the best perks offered to local governmental agencies. It is another way the County helps keep taxes low throughout the County, providing substantial savings to participants.”
Monmouth County on one of only 45 counties in the nation with AAA bond ratings, according to Finance Director Craig Marshall. 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.
“Reducing spending without reducing the level of services to our taxpayers has been a challenge,” said Freeholder Thomas A. Arnone. “As a Freeholder Board we are focused on the budgeting process and its impact to our taxpayers. County residents should also know that our 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.”
“Consistent cost cutting and belt tightening since 2010 along with the late 2015 sale of the County’s two care centers have made it possible for this Freeholder Board to present a budget that actually resets our spending to below the 2006 amount,” said Freeholder Gary J. Rich, Sr., liaison to the Finance Department.