Monmouth Freeholders Introduce $487.35M County Budget
Tax levy in 2012 spending plan will be held at $302,475,000 for third year.
Monmouth County’s proposed 2012 budget will hold a flat tax levy and reduce the overall spending plan by $4,150,000 over last year.
The county’s Director of Finance Craig R. Marshall outlined the $487,350,000 million budget during Thursday’s freeholder meeting at the Hall of Records building in Freehold Borough. The governing body introduced the spending plan by a unanimous vote.
“We’ve been in cost-saving mode since the beginning of 2008 and made drastic changes in these unprecedented economic times. We’ve continued to provide a high level of service to the taxpayers of this county that they have come to expect,” Marshall said.
The county has reduced its workforce and pursued additional revenue streams to combat shrinking ratables, according to the finance director. The ratable base fell for the third straight year to $116.1 billion in 2012 from a high in 2009 of $129 billion, Marshall said. The county expanded shared services, including offering the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office’s 9-1-1 service to municipalities, to increase revenue, Marshall said.
While the 2012 budget includes no layoffs, the county will continue a hiring freeze for non-essential positions, evaluating whether a vacant job can be eliminated by attrition or the assigned duties spread out among the existing workforce, according to Marshall. Monmouth County issued no new bond ordinances or bond sales in 2011, resulting in a $182,267 decrease in debt service to $50,670,738 in 2012.
While the tax levy in the 2012 budget remains $302,475,000 for the third straight year, the county tax rate will rise 3.5 percent from 25.16 cents per $100 of assessed value in 2011 to 26.06 cents in 2012.
However, Marshall and Monmouth County Tax Administrator Matthew S. Clark emphasized that an increase in tax rate does not necessarily correspond with a tax increase in the way a rise in a municipal tax rate would. The county portion of a resident’s tax bill will vary from town to town, year by year depending on changes in market value of property in a municipality, Clark explained.
“Member municipalities pay a percentage based on what they represent of the total value. So if a town represents five percent of the total value, they will pay five percent of the tax levy,” Clark said. “The county tax rate is technically an apportionment rate and it’s a rate that’s used in assigning the percentage of the levy to an individual town. It’s not the rate that anybody sees on their tax bill.”
Clark recommended the county draft a document detailing the changes in the tax rate for each of its 53 municipalities during next year’s budget cycle.
Monmouth County will hold two public hearings on the proposed budget before the freeholder board votes on a final spending plan. The first budget presentation will take place Wednesday, Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. at Monmouth County Library Headquarters in Manalapan. A second hearing will be held on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. at Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury. The adoption vote on the 2012 budget is scheduled for Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at Middletown Town Hall.