Freeholders reset spending plan below 2006 level

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted the County’s 2017 budget that continues to reduce expenses and provide relief to taxpayers.

“Consistent cost cutting and belt tightening along with the sale of the County’s two care centers have made it possible for this Freeholder Board resets our spending to below the 2006 amount,” said Freeholder Gary J. Rich, Sr., liaison to the Finance Department. “We have continuously kept our focus on the people and businesses of Monmouth County to ensure that the fiscal decisions we make on their behalf are based on sound accounting principles and equity in allocations.”

Monmouth County’s adopted budget in 2006 was $457,032,323.

The County annual budget covers, for example, the cost of maintaining 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, deed recording and passport services in the County Clerk’s Office, probate and adoptions through the Surrogate’s Office and many other programs, offices, and initiatives.

“Once again, our residents and businesses will not see a tax increase from Monmouth County and they will continue to have the level of programs and services remain consistent,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry. “The 2017 budget also reduces the amount Monmouth County departments expect to spend by 5.24 percent.”

As adopted, the County’s 2017 spending plan is $445,250,000, down $24.6 million, or 5.24 percent, from the 2016 budget amount of $469,850,000. The amount to be collected as County taxes will remain at the 2016 level of $302,475,000.

“For six of the past seven years, the tax levy has been flat,” said Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley. “We have adopted a budget that continues to hold the tax rate steady 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

County Finance Director Craig R. Marshall explains that the AAA bond rating from all three major bond-rating agencies, is a feat only a 45 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.

The County budget was adopted following the official public hearing on March 23 at the Monmouth County Library’s Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury. Copies of the County budget are available on the Monmouth County government website at www.VisitMonmouth.com

Prior to adoption, the also Freeholders had three public budget presentations with public comment as part of the Board’s regular meetings on February 23, March 9, as well as on March 23.