Spending Up, Taxes Down With County Budget

The Ocean County Administration Building. (Photo by Micromedia Publications)

TOMS RIVER – Taxpayers will see a slight decrease in their county tax bill due to more ratables to share the burden.

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders unveiled its 2019 budget at its Feb. 13 preboard meeting, and then formally introduced it a week later.

The budget in 2018 was about $416.1 million. It is increasing to $432 million for 2019. The amount to be raised by taxes will be $353.05 million, an increase of 1.89 percent from last year’s $346.5 million.

The county took a double-hit with the downturn in the economy in 2009 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Ratables’ value plummeted $20 billion between the two but are slowly climbing. Property values increased by $3.4 billion to $103.2 billion for 2019, yet are still $6 billion below pre-2009 figures.

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This amounts to a half-cent reduction in the tax rate, keeping it to about 34 cents per $100 valuation.

Despite those challenges, the county has kept its AAA bond rating. Bond ratings are done be independent companies and are graded based on a borrower’s fiscal stability. A good score means that the county will spend less money on interest.

Other budget highlights include:

  • $15.7 million for Ocean County College, an increase of $454,418
  • $19 million for Ocean County Vocational Technical School, an increase of $372,768
  • $9.3 million for a “pay as you grow” appropriation, so the county doesn’t have to go out to bond on some projects
  • $25 million for roads and bridges
  • $75 million for county departments that oversee law and public safety
  • $100,000 additional funds for the senior nutrition program