Ocean County Approves $565,000,000 2024 Budget

From providing home delivered meals to seniors to helping veterans, and from improving County roads for safer travel to funding educational opportunities, the Ocean County Board of Commissioner’s 2024 budget covers a host of beneficial programs and services for residents while again reducing the County property tax rate.

“This budget allows us to fund the programs and services the residents of Ocean County have come to rely upon,” said Ocean County Commissioner John P. Kelly, who along with Deputy Director of the Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn serve as chairs of the Ocean County Finance Department. “In addition, because we are fiscally conservative, we have reduced the County property tax rate by two cents, remained within the two percent cap and kept our AAA bond rating.”

The $565,044,510 spending package was the focus of a public hearing during the Board of Commissioners’ April 3 public meeting. The Board adopted the budget following the hearing.

“The budget is a financial blueprint for 2024,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Barbara Jo Crea. “This allows us to continue to serve our residents, to make certain the most vulnerable are protected, to provide motorists with safe travel and make certain educational opportunities are affordable and so much more.”

The 2024 budget, which is up $12.6 million, includes $455,897,751 to be raised by taxation and also is supported by $37.5 million from surplus.

“Under this budget, the County property tax rate will be reduced by two cents to 28.2 cents per $100 of equalized property value,” Quinn said. “The tax rate is the lowest it has been in 13 years, and this is the 8th consecutive year that the county property tax rate has decreased.”

Kelly noted the County’s 2024 ratable base is the highest it’s ever been at $161.6 billion.

“From 2008 on, we watched the county’s ratable base drop dramatically only to be harmed further in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012,” Kelly said. “The Board has always continued its commitment to lowering the county property tax rate once we began to see a turnaround in the ratable base and it began to increase

“Based on this budget we have remained true to the pledge we made to our taxpayers,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that the budget allows the Board to maintain its AAA bond rating.

“This enhances our long term economic goals,” Kelly said.

He added that all of the Board’s annual budgets meet the state mandated two percent cap.

“This budget continues our conservative and disciplined approach to spending,” Kelly said.

The budget includes funding for all essential county services including:

  • Programs for seniors – home delivered meals and outreach – veterans and human services – $9.2 million
  • Funding for Ocean County College, $18 million and Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools, $23 million
  • Road improvements that provide safety upgrades for drivers and pedestrians, $48 million.
  • Social services programs, $19.2 million
  • Parks and Recreation, $9.3 million
  • Transportation programs including Ocean Ride, $4.2 million
  • Law and Public safety, $85.9 million

Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to Ocean County College and the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools said the County appropriations for the college and vo-tech help make educational opportunities affordable and convenient for residents.

“The college and the vo-tech provide a solid foundation for the future of many of our residents whether they are traditional students or adults who have returned to school to further their careers or receive new training,” Haines said. “A good education is the cornerstone for a bright future.”

Kelly said that under the 2024 budget, the County is planning for 30 capital projects at a cost of $87,181,956.

“The projects include numerous traffic improvements throughout the county, traffic signal upgrades, and funds to develop the new regional park in Manchester Township just to name a few,” Kelly said. “These are the brick and mortar projects we bond for because we anticipate them to be used far into the future.”

In order to reduce the need to increase the County’s bonding, the Board is appropriating $44.5 million under its pay-as- you-grow capital improvement funds. Those funds will be used for library upgrades, park improvements, other county facility upgrades and also county road projects.

“This allows us to pay for capital projects with cash rather than borrow for them keeping the County debt low,” Quinn noted. “Should there be any kind of emergency in the County, this appropriation can also be moved quickly to cover other expenses. It was this ability following Superstorm Sandy that helped in our efforts to move along the cleanup and put the County back together.”

Ocean County Commissioner Frank Sadeghi said the 2024 budget is the work of the County staff in conjunction with the Board of Commissioners.

“When we can reduce the property tax rate by two cents and continue to provide funding for services that truly help our citizens, keep our roads maintained, keep our residents out of harms’ way, and protect the environment, than we have kept our commitment to the taxpayers of this County – keeping the County affordable and a good place to live,” Sadeghi said.

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