For Immediate Release:
March 1, 2013
Public hearings scheduled in libraries
Freeholders reduce county budget $6.3 million
2013 Monmouth County budget introduced;
amount to be raised by taxation remains at 2010 level
FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders introduced a $481 million budget last night. The budget contains a $6.35 million decrease in spending from last year and holds the amount to be raised by taxation flat for the fourth year in a row.
“We continue to face the pressures of increased fixed costs and reduced revenues, but were able to reduce the total budget below 2008 levels and maintain a zero increase to the tax levy,” Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “As has been the case for the past several years, county departments were asked to cut their budget allocation proportionately to help this board reduce the impact on the taxpayers.”
As introduced, the budget is down by $6,350,000, or 1.3 percent, from the 2012 budget, bringing county spending down below the 2008 level. The amount to be raised by taxation is $302,475,000, the same as it was in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The spending plan reflects a continued effort by the freeholder board to reduce county spending to close ananticipated $8 million budget shortfall caused by a drop in revenues while recovery from Superstorm Sandy continues.
Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso said that Monmouth County’s prudent fiscal actions can be seen in the 14-year maintenance of its AAA bond rating from all three major bond-rating agencies.
“Only a few dozen counties nationwide have achieved this rating,” DiMaso said. “The county’s most recent review by the ratings agencies evaluated Superstorm Sandy’s economic impact to Monmouth County. Among the comments was that Monmouth County will withstand the superstorm’s near-term effects because of the proactive steps we took to quantify the immediate effect on the property tax base so that we could budget appropriately for 2013.”
The county budget is tentatively scheduled for adoption at 7 p.m. March 28, following a public hearing. The freeholders will make a PowerPoint presentation on the budget March 5 at the Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library, Route 35, Shrewsbury and at 7 p.m. March 19 at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters on Symmes Drive, Manalapan. The public is invited to attend and offer comments.
To see a copy of the 2013 Monmouth County Budget as introduced and approved, click here
“The county continues to face budgetary challenges,” Freeholder Lillian G. Burry said. “Revenue continues to be down and our tax base is struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy. Still, it is our responsibility to find ways to provide government services without placing a great burden on taxpayers.”
“The County has a responsibility to manage the public trust,” Freeholder John P. Curley said. “The county has done an exceptional job in controlling costs in light of the loss and devastation of the tax base in our coastal municipalities.”
Freeholder Gary J. Rich, who oversees the county’s Finance Department, said the budget picture would have been much different had the county not implemented the spending cuts that were begun in 2008 when financial reports began to forecast a slowing economy. Those steps included reducing departmental budgets, embracing shared services, instituting wage freezes and laying off employees.
“The county’s recognition of tougher budget days ahead and the actions that were put in place have allowed the county to continue to provide services while consolidating resources,” Rich said. “As a result, the county has reduced its workforce by 15 percent since 2008. That is a significant savings when you consider how it impacts pension contributions and health benefits.”
“Despite the challenge to provide services in a sluggish economy and in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the county continues to be a state leader in creating new revenue streams with programs like shared services,” Arnone said.
Monmouth County relies less on taxes than 17 other New Jersey counties. As a percentage of the overall budget, Monmouth County’s taxes comprise 62.07 percent of the total budget – behind Union, Hudson and Essex counties.
By comparison, the amount of taxes as a percentage of the overall budget is 84 percent in Ocean County, 82 percent in Mercer and Camden and 81 percent in Middlesex County.
“The department heads deserve a lot of credit for their hard work in paring down the budget,” said County Finance Director Craig R. Marshall. “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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