Ocean County Press Release

NEW JERSEY RESIDENTS, already paying the highest property taxes in the nation, will likely see their bills go even higher following Governor Jon Corzine's announced cuts to municipalities, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said.

"Every Ocean County resident should be very disturbed by these cuts," Vicari said. "This is more money leaving Ocean County."

Under the governor's proposal, no Ocean County municipality will see an increase in state aid this year, despite rising gasoline and other essential operating costs.

Instead, 19 Ocean County municipalities will get no state aid this year and 11 other towns will see state aid reductions of 15 percent or more
"This will place a heavy burden on our municipalities and our taxpayers, who are already struggling with similar cuts to area schools," Vicari said.
Vicari accused the governor of trying to toss the state's financial woes onto smaller municipalities.

"Governor Corzine got a very cold reception to his astronomic plan to increase tolls, so now he's passing the buck to the towns, where local mayors will have to answer to the taxpayers," he said.

Vicari said many Ocean County towns will be especially hard hit by the state aid cuts.

"The Governor's proposal ignores the fact that many Ocean County municipalities have a low year round population that grows tremendously during the summer, " he said. "These shore towns need to provide services for a much larger number of people than reflected in the Governor's aid proposal."

Ocean County residents will also be hard hit by the Governor's plans to cut tax rebates.

"Not only will property taxes go up, but the rebates that the Governor only last year proclaimed would help ease the property tax burden are now on the chopping block, too," Vicari said.

Vicari said both the county's senior citizens and young families will struggle the most with Corzine's cuts.

"We are already in difficult economic times," Vicari said. "These reductions in state aid and rebates are going to make a bad situation worse.

Vicari said Ocean County residents are tired of footing the bill for the state's urban areas while continuously getting the short end of the stick when Trenton allocate dollars to schools and municipalities.

He pointed to school funding as an example of Trenton's unfairness.
In 2007-2008, only six of Ocean County's 30 school districts will receive more than a 2 percent increase in school aid this year.

By comparison, Hudson County School district's received an average 11 percent increase in 2008. In Bergen County, 56 of 76 districts received more than the 2 percent state aid increase.

Ocean County government has also been hit by the Governor's cuts. State aid to both Ocean County College and the Ocean County Vocational-Technical School Districts has also been cut this year.

Vicari stressed that despite Trenton's actions, the 2008 county budget will include no tax rate increase.

"We're doing whatever is necessary to keep taxes stable while providing the services our residents deserve and expect," he said.

"Unfortunately, many smaller towns and school districts faced with rising costs and evaporating state aid may have no choice but to raise taxes to meet their responsibilities," he said.

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