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Proposed Ocean County Budget Includes Tax Hike

The lingering effects of superstorm Sandy once again are impacting the Ocean County Freeholder Board’s proposed budget this year.

Ocean County Freeholder John Bartlett (photo by Tom Mongelli Townsquare Media)

The $400.8 million dollar spending plan is $14 million more than last year’s budget due mainly to storm-related costs and includes just under a two cent tax hike.

During an informal unveiling of the 2014 budget Thursday, Freeholder John Bartlett said the County is facing a $300 million dollar loss in ratables created mainly by two things: “Some towns were somewhat slow last year on putting storm-related damage under their tax rolls; that has caught up. Secondly, I understand that on the order of four-thousand buildings have now been demolished and yet to be rebuilt.”

Although he was surprised the County lost another $300 million, Bartlett said he understands it, adding “I think it bodes well for the future that this will begin to come back next year.”

The tax rate would increase one-point-six cents per $100 dollars of equalized value to 34-point-one cent of $100 dollars of equalized value.

This year’s budget is higher due to a number of reasons Bartlett said. More money is being spent on social services to meet the needs of a higher number of people needing food stamps, welfare payments and Medicaid. In addition, more workers need to hired for the Board of Social Services. A big chunk of the budget also is being taken up by equipment that needs to be replaced, including vehicles damaged during Sandy.

The Freeholder Board will formally introduce the budget at its next regular meeting on Wednesday, March 19. A final adoption is set for April 16.

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