Ocean County Challenges State On Senior Funding Loss

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TOMS RIVER – If there’s one theme that can be seen this year, it’s that local officials have been questioning the state about cuts in funds.

  In addition to the Toms River School District losing in excess of $90 million in aid over the course of several years, the county lost state funding for senior programs.

  Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who is Chairman of the Office of Senior Services, sent a personal letter to Gov. Phil Murphy urging him to restore “devastating” cuts to state-funded senior programs.

  According to the county, this is what is being lost:

  Vicari said in his letter that Ocean County is home to more than 173,000 senior citizens. The amount of them who are older than 85 is growing as well.

  One of the goals of senior programs is to make sure that they can continue to age gracefully, remaining in their homes with assistance.

  “I strongly urge the State to reconsider these cuts and fully restore funding to these vital programs.  At a time when funding to such important programs should be increased, substantial reductions like this will adversely impact the long-term welfare of our seniors and should be avoided at all costs,” he wrote in the letter.

  Vicari doesn’t act alone. The Freeholders unanimously agreed to send this letter.

  Vicari said these cuts, along with a recent insufficient hike in the Social Security cost of living increase, are taking an unfair financial toll on the county’s senior citizen population.

  “The state and federal governments cannot balance their budgets on the backs of our seniors,” he said. “It has to stop.”

  A request for feedback was sent to Murphy’s office, but since it is a holiday, no response was given as of press time.