By Mark Rosman
The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders has introduced a $445.25 million budget to fund the operation of the county during 2017.
A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for 5 p.m. March 23 at the Monmouth County Library-Eastern Branch, 1001 Route 35 North, Shrewsbury, at which time members of the public may ask questions about and comment on the spending plan.
The 2017 budget continues to reduce spending on the county level and maintains the same tax levy that was collected during 2016, according to a resolution passed by the freeholders on Feb. 23.
In regard to appropriations, in 2015, the county budget totaled $488 million. In 2016, the budget fell to $469.85 million. The 2017 budget contains a further reduction in spending to $445.25 million.
As for the tax levy, in 2015, the county collected $307 million from property owners to support the budget. In 2016, the tax levy decreased to $302.47 million. The tax levy for 2017 will remain at $302.47 million, according to the budget resolution passed by the freeholders.
For 2017, the freeholders anticipate the following revenues: $302.47 million to be raised by taxation; $99.27 million from miscellaneous revenues; and $43.5 million to be applied as revenue from the county’s surplus fund.
Appropriations for 2017 include $96.92 million for public safety; $61.87 million for insurance; $57.96 million for debt service; $46.91 million for human services and health; $37.53 million for education; $36.5 million for statutory expenditures; and $29.86 million for general government.
Those seven categories account for $367.55 million of the total $445.25 million in total appropriations.
“Our residents and businesses will again not see a tax increase from Monmouth County and they will have the level of programs and services remain consistent,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “The 2017 budget reduces the amount county departments expect to spend by 5.24 percent and keeps the amount to be raised by taxation at the 2010 level.”
“For six of the past seven years, the tax levy has been flat,” Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley said. “We have introduced a budget that continues to hold the tax rate down 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.”
“Consistent cost cutting and belt tightening since 2010 along with the late 2015 sale of the county’s two care centers have made it possible for this freeholder board to present a budget that actually resets our spending to below the 2006 amount of $457 million,” said Freeholder Gary J. Rich Sr., liaison to the Finance Department.
The county budget covers the cost of providing for the maintenance of 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 more, according to a press release.