.

Freeholders Introduce 'Bare Bones' 2012 Budget

Spending plan adjusts tax rate upward to support $300 million tax levy

Decreases in Ocean County's ratable base and slowing revenues have contributed to a "bare bones" 2012 budget proposal that will raise roughly $6.7 million more in taxation over the 2011 levy.

The county Board of Freeholders unanimously introduced a $354,189,256 budget at its regular meeting Wednesday in the county, 101 Hooper Ave. The proposed spending plan would be supported by a $300,026,643 tax levy that employs a tax rate of 29.9 cents per $100 in equalized value, a 1.7-cent hike over the 2011 spending plan.

"There are no bells and whistles" in the budget plan, Freeholder Director Gerry Little said. "There are no new programs and no new services. It is simply designed to maintain and sustain our core services," he said.

Deputy Director John Bartlett said the county has been able to "ride through these difficult times" of the last few years with prudent planning, although the 2012 budget process was "met with two difficulties:" the county's "other" revenues (fees, licenses, etc.) are "down significantly" while the "taxable value of Ocean County is down by about $4 billion."

Freeholders estimate roughly $100 billion in ratables in 2012, down $4 billion from 2011 and almost $9 billion from 2008's nearly $109 billion valuation.

 

Year Ratable Valuation Tax Rate Amount to be Raised by Taxation 2008 $108,897,663,942 25.4 cents per $100 $276,305,117 2009 $109,906,985,727 25.5 cents per $100 $278,876,987 2010 $105,510,706,298 27.2 cents per $100 $287,002,464 2011 $104,334,745,378 28.1 cents per $100 $293,278,750 2012 (estimated) $100,177,834,492 $29.9 cents per 100 $300,026,643

 

Freeholders elect to apply $17 million from its surplus to make up for the decreases in revenue without saddling residents with a much larger tax bill. Spending across most departments remains flat or has been reduced, while the board has not replaced almost 200 county staffers who have departed in the past three years. The savings in salaries from just 2011 is $360,000, Little said, with 56 positions eliminated via attrition.

"This is not a rich county and we have to be very careful with the appropriation of other peoples' money," Bartlett said.

The freeholders noted they could have asked more of taxpayers but elected not to do so. The proposed 2012 budget is roughly $4 million under the state-mandated 2 percent cap, representing a less than half of 1 percent increase over the 2011 budget.

Freeholders could have possibly averted a tax increase entirely in the 2012 proposal if not for the expansion of the Ocean County Jail, Freeholder John Kelly said. The revamped jail, which addressed capacity problems, has necessitated the hiring of 44 law enforcement and civilian staffers in the past two years. 

The overall spending plan totals $1.4 million above the $352.7 million 2011 budget, which raised $293.3 million via taxation. 

Despite the 2012 proposal being an austerity plan, the freeholders "did maintain the vital core services of Ocean County," Freeholder Joseph Vicari said.

"It's bare bones... but it also meets the needs of the county," Kelly said.

Members of the public can speak about the 2012 budget at a hearing at 4 p.m. March 21 in room 119 of the county Administration building. The freeholders will vote to adopt the budget after the hearing.

To view the 2012 proposed budget, click here.

seaside pete February 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
actually john smith is a bit confused . so far over $1 million dollars have been wasted on the road he wants built to save himself going 100 yards on rt 9 to get to lacey road from home depot. lacey is in debt and the town committee who should be confronted with a conflict of interest since this road will connect gary quinn's properties at no cost to him just lacey taxpayers instead . so a broke town just borrowed another $3 million dollars for a road the majority of the town doesnt want not to mention it fills the bank accounts of the town attorney gilmore as well as t&m enginneering as well as any friends who want a piece of the action. when you get your next tax bill you should ask john smith why its gone up.
walt tupycia February 16, 2012 at 10:08 PM
creative accounting
walt tupycia February 16, 2012 at 10:10 PM
hey dan how many times do i have to sign in a week.Seems like when ever i go to patch i have to do the whole works again.
Joseph Woolston Brick February 16, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Lets see: Brick wants more tax money out of my wallet Ocean County wants more taxes out of my wallet Comcast wants to increase my bill by $30 Verizon wants a few more bucks as well JCPL also wants an increase My Cell phone company wants more too. Gas company needs a few more bucks My car and house insurance wants their cut too. and a host of other services want to dip their hands into the till too. Well. my boss says no raises and there hasn't been for two years. So here's what I've done so far. Told Verizon to take a hike and discontinued their phone service. Got rid of Comcast TV and have them only for Internet now and looking for a cheaper replacement for them. I get fine HDTV service with my new trusty roof antenna. Wish I could afford to buy solar panels and get off the grid, but I can't so I got on a plan with JCPL as well as the gas company. In other words gentleman, your going to have to do better than bare bones. We simply don't have the cash that you want so go back to the office and come up with more cuts and try to keep the taxes the same or lower as you can't bet blood out of a stone.
mussel man February 16, 2012 at 11:51 PM
and joe dont forget the 50% tax hike we got jan 1st that christie could have vetoed. he vetoes everything else whether its putting a kibbosh on electric charging stations all over nj that would have created jobs . my neighbor has a chevy volt and they are beyond happy with it. anything over 30 miles and you just charge it. anymore than 30 miles and it switches over to a 45 mpg gas engine . but instead thanks to christie cars like that are limited to around town chores which is what most people do anyway. yes between gas going up and the christie tolls its going to break people. christie managed to veto same sex marriage today which i could care less about. if bob married harry i could care less but $80 a day just to get to north jersey is insane. everytime i get on the garden state parkway i can feel christie's sausage-like fingers on my wallet.

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