Monmouth County Freeholders Adopt Budget With Zero Tax Increase

Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry Photo by Vinnie Amessé © www.amessephoto.com

Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry

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.”

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Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Arnone Report

By Monmouth County Freeholder Tom Arnone

Freeholder Director Tom Arone

Freeholder Tom Arone

The Monmouth County “Made in Monmouth” Expo is rapidly approaching. It is an annual event showcasing products exclusively produced in Monmouth County. “Made in Monmouth” is a free event for both vendors and visitors; its purpose is to encourage people to shop local. To date 142 vendors are confirmed registered. The products sold at this event, made right here in the county are creative and nothing less than amazing. I am also happy to report that we are partnering with the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean counties this year to conduct a food drive at the event. We are asking our vendors as well as people that are attending to bring a donation of canned or dried food for the Food Bank. The third annual “Made in Monmouth” is Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the MAC Building at Monmouth University in West Long Branch. For more information, please call 732-431-7470.

On March 27, 2014, Verizon recognized the student team from Biotechnology High School, Freehold, one of Monmouth County’s premier high schools, for their achievement of Best in State, Best in Region and National Best Educational Application Concept status in the 2013 Verizon Application Challenge. It was an honor for me to be present at the recent ceremony as the student team received this recognition. The Board of Chosen Freeholders is extremely proud of the students at Biotechnology H.S. on this accomplishment and commends their efforts in achieving such high accolades.MadeInMonmouth

On behalf of The Board of Chosen Freeholders and as liaison to the Department of Shared Services, I recently hosted and participated in a meeting at the Monmouth County Connection in Neptune to assist Middletown in their exploration of creating an animal shelter to service Monmouth County municipalities. Many municipalities are facing serious capacity and public health issues in this area as well as heavy annual increases in service costs which are greatly reducing their ability to meet other service needs in the community. Middletown contacted the county to assist in bringing together as many towns as possible to discuss this issue, engage the towns for their ideas and input and strategize on how to address these common issues together. The meeting went extremely well and the towns that attended were very appreciative of both Middletown’s and the County’s efforts. There was very high interest in moving forward and approximately 30 towns expressed interest in our initial outreach.

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Posted: March 28th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Tom Arnone | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Burry and Curley tangle at Freeholders’ meeting

curlyandburry

Freeholders John Curley and Lillian Burry

The ongoing feud between Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Freeholder John Curley , both Republicans, became public again Thursday afternoon at the beginning of the board’s work session meeting at the Hall of Records in Freeholder.

Click here to listen to Curley’s remarks and the ensuing exchange between him and Burry.  Curley’s remarks start at the 1:27 mark of the audio.  The exchange concludes at the 5:24 mark.

Curley announced that he had proposed a resolution that would have called on the State Legislature to prohibit elected or appointed officials, on any level, from participating  in New Jersey’s Farm Land Preservation Program.   He likened such participation to Wall Street insider trading.  Curley said that Freeholder Tom Arnone, a Republican,  was his second for the resolution and that Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, a Republican, was going to sponsor such legislation.  Curley said he was disappointed that “the freeholders” pulled his resolution from the work session agenda.

Burry said that Curley’s remarks were inappropriate in that that he did not go through “the chair” or follow proper procedures.  She said the resolution was going to be discussed in Executive Session and had been put off because it needed to be tweaked and properly vetted.

Listen to the exchange.    It’s much more colorful than summarized above.

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Posted: March 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: John Curley, Lillian Burry, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth GOP | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments »

Bob Walsh: “The Monmouth GOP’s Brand Is Tarnished”

Howell Councilman Bob Walsh, second from left, and Freeholder Gary Rich, right, are set to compete for a 2014 GOP nomination.  Andrew Lucas, left, then a Manalapan Committeeman and Wall Township Committeeman George Newberry, between Walsh and Rich. Photo from 2011 Freeholder nomination race.

Howell Councilman Bob Walsh, second from left, and Freeholder Gary Rich, right, are set to compete for a 2014 GOP nomination. Andrew Lucas, left, then a Manalapan Committeeman and Wall Township Committeeman George Newberry, between Walsh and Rich. Photo from 2011 Freeholder nomination race.

Howell Councilman Bob Walsh, a candidate for one of two available nominations for freeholder at the Monmouth Republican Convention on March 22, said that the Monmouth Republican Party’s brand has been tarnished by the Burke Farm deal with Andrew Lucas and by the Brookdale Community College scandal that resulted in former Brookdale President’s Peter Burnham’s conviction for official misconduct and theft.

Incumbent freeholders, Director Lillian Burry and Deputy Director Gary Rich are seeking to be nominated for reelection at the convention.

Speaking on the record, Walsh said that many “neutral people, people who know nothing” that he encounters think that the Lucas farm deal and the Brookdale scandal are examples of Republican corruption.  Walsh said that he talks to these people and tries to correct their perception, “but it is out there and a lot of people think that way, it’s a common thread.”

Walsh was very careful not to speak negatively about Burry and Rich specifically while discussing his own candidacy.  ”I don’t consider that I am challenging them,” he said, “I am seeking an office according to the rules.  No one is elected forever.  People complain and complain about government, yet keep electing the same people.  That’s what’s wrong with this country.”

“People say that government should be run as a business.  I have a very good record in business, as a licensed banker,  and a very good record as mayor of Howell that I am proud of.  I think I am an asset and will be an asset to the freeholder board. I have energy, passion and the flexibility to do the job.”

While not specifically accusing anyone of complacency, Walsh said that his candidacy and his service, if elected, would be a battle against complacency in county government.

“Complacency has no place if public service,” he said, “I am very pleased with some of the things I see happening since I started running.” He declined to elaborate.

Walsh said he expected that this November’s election will be more contentious that usual.

Posted: February 26th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth GOP | Tags: , , , , | 52 Comments »

The Arnone Report

Freeholder Director Tom Arone

Freeholder Tom Arone

By Tom Arnone, Monmouth County Freeholder

 

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders continues to support and promote the Grow Monmouth Façade Improvement Program. The program makes grant funds available to help improve the look of privately held commercial buildings throughout Monmouth County. The façade improvement program which is the newest initiative under our Grow Monmouth program uses HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Community Development Block Grant funds that were de-obligated by grantees to help privately held commercial buildings, located in HUD eligible areas, improve their business façades. Representatives from the county’s department of economic/development recently assisted me during a presentation for the façade improvement program that was given to the Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce. In the next few days there will be a check presentation to Jim Smith, owner of Smittex Sportswear in Keansburg who will be utilizing the funds towards the purchase of a new awning. Mr. Smith will be receiving $1,845.00 for the purchase of the awning. For more information about the Grow Monmouth Façade Improvement Program please contact the Monmouth County Department of Economic Development at 732-431-7470 or visit the Grow Monmouth section of the County website at www.visitmonmouth.com.

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Posted: February 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Tom Arnone | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

A Teachable Moment

By Lillian G. Burry, Monmouth County Freeholder Director

Photo by Vinnie Amessé © www.amessephoto.com

Photo by Vinnie Amessé © www.amessephoto.com

When Vin Gopal launched his latest attack, I heard from friends with two different types of advice.  Some said I should fight back immediately because silence would suggest I had no defense.  Others said I should do nothing because to respond to bullying would make me just look defensive.  I thanked them all for their kind thoughts but told them all the same thing.  I see this as a teachable moment to be shared with everyone who may be thinking of someday entering public life.

You may see public office as I do – a way of giving back to society and being thankful for the success you’ve had in your professional life.  In an ideal democracy opponents would challenge you by putting forth a competing vision of the future they would work for and offer up their record of accomplishments so people could judge whether or not they had as good a record as yours when it comes to getting things done.  Unfortunately, that’s not how our democracy has evolved.

Instead of thoughtful, accomplished candidates we are too often faced with political attack dogs whose sole purpose is to try to destroy the reputation of people in the opposing party.  Lies, distortions and bullying are their stock in trade.  If anyone you have ever dealt with in your public life is ever accused of wrong doing in their private affairs, rest assured that the partisan hounds will come barking after you even though you are in no way involved.  That’s just the way it’s done on every level be it federal, state, county or local.  So what are you to do?  The answer is simple.  Whether you are a little league coach or a first responder, whether you feed the hungry, lead a troop of girl scouts or serve on a school board you have a record on which you can stand.  Every person you have helped, every dollar you have saved or raised, every public asset you have fought to preserve, everything you have done in your public life speaks for you.  We are all entitled to be judged by our true record.  All the barking of all the hounds cannot drown out the truth.  At the end of the day the weight of solid accomplishments will balance well against empty accusations from a poisoned pen.

Stand strong with high standards.  Keep firm in your commitments.  Speak dearly of the brighter future you are working to create.  Do this all resolutely and leave those attack dogs to do their howling at the moon.

Posted: February 19th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 Elections, Lillian Burry, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Vin Gopal | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments »

Freeholders Meeting Rescheduled

december-10-storm-0011The regular meeting on the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders will immediately follow the Freeholders’ workshop meeting tomorrow afternoon.  The workshop meeting will start at 1PM.   The workshop meeting was originally scheduled for 2PM and the regular meeting for 7PM.  The change is due to the anticipated snowstorm.

“The Freeholder public meetings are essential for the operation of the County, but public safety is paramount,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry. “Given the weather predictions, the Board will hold both meetings during the day allowing for everyone to head home during the daylight hours.”

Both meetings will be held in the Hall of Records located at One East Main Street in Freehold Borough.

Posted: February 12th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County Board of Freeholders | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Gopal Makes False Allegations Over Lucas Arrest

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal

Just as he did last October when he falsely accused a Republican candidate for Red Bank Council of being a fugitive, Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal is lying today in his attempt to make political hay over the arrest of former Manalapan Mayor Andew Lucas.

Lucas was indicted for alleged actions in connection with his purchase of Burke Farm.

The ever deceptive young chairman issued a statement to PoltickerNJ and other outlets that alleges a scandal regarding the sale of the development rights to the farm to the state/county and municipally funded Open Space program.  Gopal say blatantly accuses the Republican members of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders of being involved in the scandal.  The U.S. Attorney thoroughly investigated the sale of the farm, with the cooperation of Monmouth County officials. No charges  have been filed regarding the sale of the development rights.  No one other than Lucas has been charged with any wrong doing.

Gopal said:

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Posted: February 7th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Andrew Lucas, Manalapan, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Monmouth Democrats, Monmouth GOP | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Stuff to know about Freeholders Arnone and DiMaso

By Tom DeSeno

 

Sen Jennifer Beck, her husband Dan Shields and Freeholders Serena DiMaso and Tom Arnone @ Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan's Rally @Bahr's Landing. November 3.

Sen Jennifer Beck, her husband Dan Shields and Freeholders Serena DiMaso and Tom Arnone @ Highlands Mayor Frank Nolan’s Rally @Bahr’s Landing. November 3.

The Freeholder Board runs the county government.  It’s always been puzzling why political parties are so entrenched in the process of selecting candidates, because the job of Freeholder has so little to do with the center-right and center-left political ideologies that the parties have come to represent.

 

The Freeholder board transcends the purely political because the issues they deal with don’t lend themselves to the various divisive topics that get folks to arguing.  The reality of being Freeholder is this – delivering quality government services at the least possible price.

 

With that understanding, let’s take a look at two of the candidates for Monmouth County Freeholder.

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Posted: November 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Election, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

$647K In Grants For Monmouth County Road Improvements Secured

…and other Monmouth County Government News

Freeholder Director Tom Arone

Freeholder Director Tom Arone

By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone

A Monmouth County project will reduce Memorial Drive in Asbury Park from four lanes to two. Monmouth County has received $422,000 from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority’s Local Safety Program to improve Memorial Drive, which carries Monmouth County Road 40-A from Avon-By-the-Sea through Neptune Township and into Asbury Park.

            On behalf of The Board of Chosen Freeholders, I serve as the liaison to the North Jersey Transportation Authority, and one of my duties is to try and receive money. I am very pleased to be able to report that I was successful in doing just that.

            The project, known as a road diet, will also install wider shoulders, bicycle lanes and a center turning lane off Memorial Drive. The Transportation Authority recognized that Memorial Drive, with few signalized intersections south of Asbury Park and poorly-marked crosswalks, was dangerous for pedestrians and other non-motor vehicle traffic.

            In addition to obtaining funding for this project, I am also pleased to report that on behalf of the Freeholders I was successful in lobbying the authority to fund $150,000 in safety improvements at a Howell intersection between West Farms Road and the Squankum-Yellowbrick Road that will include a blinking traffic light and improved pavement markings.

            Other news in Monmouth County – The Department of Public Works and Engineering has received a grant from the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for de-snagging and debris removal at various stream corridors. The Division of Bridges is in the process of completing this project which will result not only in the county receiving $75,000.00 to offset the cost, but will also reduce flooding and damage to our infrastructure.

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Posted: September 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Asbury Park, Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Tom Arnone | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »