While Ocean County continues to sail safely through tough economic waters with it's AAA-Bond Rating intact, the Board of Chosen Freeholders unveil their budget for 2012-2013 with some minor adjustments. Officials say they've kept their pledge of no surprises when it comes to their spending plan.

The proposed budget comes in at around $354 million dollars. It covers the cost of providing services in a growing county, while coming in $4.1 million dollars below a restrictive 2 percent spending cap imposed by the state of New Jersey. The budget is up about $1.5 million dollars more than last year.

Freeholder Director Gerry Little is calling it a no bells and whistles budget that seeks to provide the residents with the services and programs they expect without ballooning things higher. Little  says "we could have raised taxes more or gone up in the budget but we didn't. We try to be as fiscally responsible as possible each year in Ocean County."

In terms of taxes, the amount to be raised by taxation climbs 6.7 million, equating to two-thirds of a cent increase in the county tax rate. Little says it won't amount to much on the bills for homeowners.

Little continues to watch the situation with police contracts closely. He's hoping when an arbitrator finally makes a ruling, it won't blow a hole in the spending plan. It's been three years since the contracts expired and they continue to be bound by the previous step guide.

The budget will be formally introduced during this week's meeting - Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Ocean County Administration Building at 101 Hooper Avenue in Toms River.