By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
I hope everyone is doing well! Despite the Groundhog’s prediction, we are only a few weeks away from the start of spring and warmer weather.
I would like to briefly discuss the budget my colleagues and I on the Board of Chosen Freeholders introduced during our meeting on February 8th.
As it currently stands, County taxes would increase by only 1 percent. However, I cannot stress enough that this budget is still a working draft with the opportunity, rather the goal, to make additional cuts to keep the tax levy as flat as possible. If the budget stayed the same and was adopted as-is, this would be the first slight tax increase in seven years while continuing to keep the great services and infrastructure improvements throughout the County.
As it currently stands, the budget introduced just last week is $449 million in comparison to the $493 million budget in 2010. We have worked hard over the last eight years to greatly reduce the County’s budget and keep taxes flat while maintaining the high quality of life and number of services for our residents.
I can personally assure our residents that I, along with my colleagues and administration, will continue to review the draft budget and find ways to keep costs down. Moreover, cutting costs does not end once the budget is adopted. We’re constantly looking for new ways to bring cost-saving measures to residents in all of our 53 municipalities.
As I said during recent Freeholder meetings, it is my goal to continue working on our draft budget and adopt a zero tax-increase budget during our Freeholder meeting scheduled for March 8th.
On a separate note, I would like to announce that I now serve as the Freeholder liaison to the Monmouth County Improvement Authority. I had the opportunity recently to attend my first Authority meeting and I would like to commend the entire board on its work and professionalism.
The Authority recently priced its annual Governmental Pooled Loan Revenue Bonds which resulted in a sale of $21 million for five municipalities. As a result of the sale was a 2.75 percent interest rate for the 20 year tax-exempt financing. The municipalities who benefited from utilizing the Authority included West Long Branch, Millstone, Eatontown, Avon-by-the-Sea and Allenhurst.
I look forward to serving as the Freeholder liaison to the Authority and sharing its success stories.
As always, it is truly a privilege to serve the residents of Monmouth County. Additionally, it is worth stating one more time – I will continue to work hard on reviewing the draft budget before us in order to keep taxes flat for our residents.