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County Tax Rate to Remain Stable Despite Revenue Influx

Taxpayers can expect a slight, 1-cent valuation increase this year

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
The Ocean County freeholder board will vote to approve a tax rate that remains stable within a proposed budget introduced earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

The budget, which will be amended and up for approval at nearly $35 million more than originally introduced, will keep in place the same 34.1 cent valuation average that was proposed earlier this year.

The $35 million increase, plus more than $9 million in federal aid to help close the gap between the county's spending plan and real estate ratables lost in Superstorm Sandy, will maintain what was proposed earlier this year, when the freeholders announced a $400.8 million budget, meaning a slight, 1-cent increase from the previous year for taxpayers.

"It inflates the size of the budget and makes it look bigger, but it’s money in and money out for a specific purpose," said Freeholder John C. Bartlett.

The $35 million revenue increase will, likewise, be spent. It is funding for the
Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program, part of a federal aid package passed in the wake of the storm which must pass through the county budget as both a revenue item and a spending item.

"The state said, ‘you’re doing your share, so we will see to it that we do ours,' said Bartlett, congratulating the county for receiving more funding than any other geographic area struck by the storm.

Overall, he said, Ocean County's prospects for Sandy recovery look somewhat positive. The county government, which took over cleanup operations in 17 municipalities, is owed just $5 million from the federal government in reimbursements, and the ratable base continues to be on the mend.

This year, Bartlett said, the county received $9 million in aid to bridge the gap between the budgetary spending and Sandy valuation loss, but next year the county could be back on track even without any help from the federal government.

"If our tax base for next year grows by about 3.3 percent, new ratables, buildings being rebuilt more valuable than the ones destroyed," Bartlett said, the county could make up the $9 million difference.

"It appears that home selling prices are gently rising, so with the combination of both of those, we will hopefully be in the vicinity of a 3 percent increase in our tax base," he said. "That will make up for the $9 million."

"That’s many years of having a fiscally conservative type of policy," said Freeholder Director Joseph Vicari, referencing the board's ability to pick up the initial tab for the 17 municipalities. "Everyone always said we were saving for a rainy day, this was it."

The county's budget adoption, plus a public hearing, is set to take place June 25.
Rufus O'Callahan June 12, 2014 at 10:15 AM
Doesn't matter. We'll get a slew of glossy mailers talking about how "conservative" Joe Vicari and the rest of the Freeloaders are, and the suckers that live in this area will overwhelmingly vote them in. We lost out on our chance to nominate someone who wasn't an insider of the two-headed monster, but it would at least send a bit of a shock to the system by electing the Democrat, even if he is just nominal competition and part of the same exact machine as these pathetic excuses for Republicans.
Brandy the Dog June 12, 2014 at 11:17 AM
Smoke and mirrors. Check your bill.
Jim June 12, 2014 at 02:39 PM
This is just a JOKE !!! Lots more money coming in , but no tax break!!! Let's just keep voting these guys back into office every year, they are nothing but a bunch of political hacks!! I wouldn't let them walk my dog around the corner but let's have go on spending and spending! When are the people of Ocean county going to wake up and throw all of them out of office!!!
grace June 12, 2014 at 03:07 PM
Vicari would know hes been there all these years

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