The Ocean County Freeholder Board is ready to officially adopt its proposed 2015 budget after a final public hearing Wednesday.

Ocean County Administration Building (Tom Mongelli, Townsquare Media)
Ocean County Administration Building (Tom Mongelli, Townsquare Media)

Final approval of the $413 million spending plan had been stalled until the county recently received confirmation from the state that it was approved for $6.7 million in Super storm Sandy aid, the last year of grant eligibility, according to Freeholder Director John C. Bartlett.

"We would have loved to have had this done and wrapped up in March, but again we were waiting for the $6.7 million certification from the state," said Bartlett.

The county had to introduce a amendment to the budget of about $5 million, according to Bartlett.

"Technically speaking, any time the county receives a grant, the budget has to be amended to include the grant as item of revenue and then to include that money as an item of expenditure," he explained.

Bartlett stressed although the budget will increase by $5 million over what the Freeholder Board had originally introduced, it will have absolutely no effect on what the county raises in taxation.

Bartlett noted the state funding is really a transition aid to help the county rebuild the tax base lost in the aftermath of Sandy.

"We were one of the few counties to receive it because we had all of our paperwork, if you will, in order for it," he said.

The $6.7 million in emergency grant funding is from the Community Development Block Grant program. The county received $9.2 million in 2014.

The proposed overall operating budget is $23 million less than 2014, in part due to grant money, mainly related to Sandy.

The county will repay $22 million in debt from emergency bonding from Sandy in this year's budget.

The proposed tax increase amounts to less than a penny. The county tax rate is 35 cents per $100 of assesses property value.

Wednesday's public hearing takes place at 4pm, at the Ocean County Administration Building, 101 Hooper Avenue in Toms River, in Room #119.

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