Dear Editor,

I am proud to report that on March 22 the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a budget with a zero increase in the tax levy. This is the second year in a row the tax levy has remained the same, which means Monmouth County will raise no more in taxes this year than it did in 2010. My running mate, Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, and I promised that we would deliver this during our campaign and we have kept that promise.  

Director John P. Curley, Deputy Director Thomas A. Arnone and Freeholder Serena DiMaso have worked closely with our chief financial officer and all County department heads to make this possible, while still maintaining the excellent level of public services that residents expect. County spending was actually reduced this year by $4.1 million.

Over the course of the last three years, there has been a hiring freeze, cuts to expense budgets, consolidation of a number of county operations, and a reduction of nearly 700 employees. This has saved Monmouth County millions of tax dollars. Each year the department heads have been asked to make necessary cuts to their budgets in order to maintain the tax levy and each year they have delivered.

Monmouth County relies less on property taxes than 16 of the 21 New Jersey counties. As a percentage of the overall budget, Monmouth County’s property taxes comprise 61.54 percent of the total budget – behind Union, Hudson and Essex counties, which receive more in state aid, and Cumberland County, which is much smaller.

By comparison, the amount of property taxes as a percentage of the overall budget is 83 percent in Ocean County, 79 percent in Middlesex County, 78.5 percent in Atlantic County and 71 percent in Burlington County.

Let me assure the taxpayers of Monmouth County that this freeholder board is working for your interests every day. We will continue our tradition of providing relief to the taxpayers of this county while still providing the high quality services necessary to maintain our outstanding quality of life in Monmouth County.

Gary J. Rich

Monmouth County Freeholder