Freeholders Adopt $487 Million Budget
Tax levy in 2012 spending plan held at $302 million for third year
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved a $4.9 million spending plan by a unanimous vote Thursday at Middletown Town Hall. The 2012 budget is $4,150,000 less than last year’s, bringing the county’s spending to 2009 levels.
The budget includes a $302,475,000 tax levy for the third year. With a shrinking ratable base, the county tax rate increased 3.5 percent, from 25.16 for each $100 of property value in 2011 to 26.06 cents in 2012.
The budget includes no layoffs, though the county will continue a hiring freeze for non-essential positions. In response to a decline in revenue, the county expanded shared service offerings, cut its allocation to Brookdale Community College by $6 million, requested cuts from department heads, and did not incur new bond debt in 2011, according to Marshall.
Freeholder Gary Rich said the 2012 budget maintains the quality of services Monmouth County residents expect while holding a flat tax levy.
“We will continue our tradition of providing relief to the taxpayers of this county while still maintaining that level of service,” Freeholder Gary Rich said.
However, Monmouth County Director of Finance Craig R. Marshall said an increase in the county tax rate does not necessarily correspond with a tax increase in the way a rise in a municipal tax rate would.
During the budget introduction on Feb. 23, Marshall explained that the market value of property in each municipality is assessed, compared to the county’s overall value, and the municipality’s portion of the tax levy applied accordingly.
“The county will be collecting the same amount of taxes but when that gets apportioned, some taxpayers may see an increase, some may stay the same, some may see a decrease,” Marshall said.
Unlike 2011’s budget process, the 2012 spending plan remained unchanged from its February introduction and two subsequent public hearings to its final adoption. However, Marshall said the finance department and department heads continue to look for cost cutting measures and state and federal grant opportunities throughout the year.