The public will get the chance to voice their opinion about the way the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders is planning to spend taxpayer dollars. A public hearing is being held tonight at the County Library in Manalapan at 7.

Freeholder Director John Curley says the proposed $487 million dollar budget dwarfs last years by over $4 million dollars. The Freeholders say the budget also brings County spending down below the 2009 level.

Curley says they were able to hold the line on spending and close a projected $14-million dollar budget shortfall by instituting a hiring freeze, reducing fixed cost and by developing a shared service program. "We've done that with Middlesex County with our Medical Examiners Office. We've also done that with our Youth Detention Center. That was done last year but that was a big, big chunk of money."

Curley says they were also able to reduced fixed cost through attrition-related staff reductions, hiring a new insurance program consultant and by changing insurance carriers.

The Freeholders say they also realized savings by having all Department Heads hold back 5 percent of discretionary spending and overtime was restricted to essential services only. Freeholder Serena Dimaso notes that the County continues to enjoy a AAA Bond Rating from all three major bond-rating agencies and relies less on taxes than 16 other New Jersey Counties.

The County Budget is tentatively scheduled for adoption at 7 p.m. March 22nd, following another public hearing.