Years of operating in "" led Monmouth County to adopt a declining budget for the second straight year, according to county Director of Finance Craig R. Marshall.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved a $487,350,000 spending plan by a unanimous vote Thursday at . The 2012 budget is $4,150,000 less than last year’s, bringing the county’s spending to 2009 levels.
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,” Rich said.
The budget includes a $302,475,000 tax levy for the third year in a row. With a shrinking ratable base, the county tax rate increase 3.5 percent from 25.16 per $100 in assessed value in 2011 to 26.06 cents in 2012.
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.
The approved county budget includes no layoffs, though the county will continue a hiring freeze for non-essential positions, he noted. 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.
The 2012 budget expenditures include $2,250,000 for anticipated capital improvements, $50,670,738 in debt service, and $177,823,712 in salaries and wages.
, 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.