Skip to content

Why They Run

In a Star Ledger interview, Doherty and Immen give their reasons for seeking seats on the Board of Freeholders.  To my ears they ring a little hollow.

First both candidates express their displeasure with the recent increase in the county part of our property tax.  It was the first increase in five years and may be rolled back next year anyway.

From the story:

In interviews with NJ Advance Media, Doherty and Immen said they’re concerned the county is becoming less and less affordable, partly because of tax increases in 2015.

It goes on:

Doherty, who is in his sixth year as mayor and previously served on the Borough Council, said taxes in Belmar have held flat in his time as mayor.

“Meanwhile, on the county level, they just jacked up taxes millions of dollars just last year, in 2015,” Doherty said by phone on Tuesday. “My main concern is that it’s becoming less and less affordable to raise a family in Monmouth County because of these escalating property tax increases on a county level.”

Immen said those property tax increases have forced people to leave the county.

“That’s the No. 1 issue I’d like to address (if elected) and it’s the No. 1 issue the residents of Monmouth County would like to address,” she said.

Actually it was just one tax increase, not “escalating” tax increases.  I doubt anyone moved for that reason alone, especially from Monmouth County.  Of course people are moving in droves from the state because of taxes and Matt and Maggie have no problem with state tax increases like for the 2012 school bond which she organized the referendum campaign for and the proposed increase in the gas tax which both of them are currently pushing for.

Compared at least with everything else in New Jersey, Monmouth County’s finances seem to be run pretty well.  For 16 years in a row it’s debt has been rated AAA from Fitch, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.  No other county in the state and only about three dozen counties nationally have received the highest rating from all three agencies.

According to Fitch:


Unaudited financial statements for 2014 depict a decrease in the current fund balance of $9.8 million on the year to $66.4 million or 12.6% of spending. The fund balance usage was less than anticipated but significant nonetheless. The county’s financial management policy requires a minimum current fund balance equal to 7% of revenues. Reserve levels have historically been maintained well above the policy level, which is an important consideration in the maintenance of the ‘AAA’ rating.


Management has done a noteworthy job controlling costs to counter flat revenue totals but flexibility has diminished over time, largely reflected in lower appropriation reserves (unspent, lapsed appropriations) and sizable use of fund balance in 2014. The adopted 2015 budget includes a $40 million appropriation of fund balance representing a high 8.2% of budgeted revenue. The county has lowered its fund balance appropriation from $46 million in 2013 and $43 million in 2014.

Importantly the county approved a 1.5% increase in its tax levy, the first increase since 2010, which will generate $4.5 million in new recurring revenue for the current fund. The county retains good flexibility under the statutory tax cap – its 2015 levy of $307 million was $7.2 million under the maximum allowable amount to be raised by taxation. The county’s property tax rate remains among the lowest in the state, and the tax levy is fully guaranteed by the county’s underlying municipalities eliminating risk of non-collection or delinquency. Property taxes account for 63% of the 2015 budget.

In March the county authorized the sale of its two care centers. The care centers have operated at a deficit for some time, with the current fund absorbing losses totaling $7.1 million in 2014, $6.9 million in 2013, and $6.9 million in 2012 – as such, the disposition of these facilities, although politically challenging, would appear to relieve a considerable financial burden on the current fund budget. The county has retained a real estate brokerage firm with experience assisting other NJ counties that have sold nursing home facilities in recent years. The county reports good interest in the properties; management expects to bolster the current fund reserve position with the proceeds from a sale.

The county sold the care centers last week for $32.4 million, and now may be able to undo the tax increase.

Another justification given by Doherty and Immen is to bring bipartisanship to Freehold:

Republicans currently hold all seats on the county level and have controlled the Board of Chosen Freeholders since 2011.
Doherty and Immen both said it’s time to change that and bring bipartisanship back to the county.”Monmouth County is completely controlled by Republicans — sheriff, clerk, surrogate — every elected office is a member of the Republican party, so it lacks any checks and balances that I think are necessary for good government,” Doherty said.

So the County needs the checks and balances that divided government can deliver, but Belmar doesn’t?  And although Republicans always get at least 40% of the vote in Belmar, it’s desirable not to have a single Republican on the Council?  Seems like a double standard to me.


  1. Belmar Independent wrote:

    Whenever a Matt Doherty ( Dem ) or a Christopher Christie ( Rep.) Blah, Blah, Blah about BIPARTISAN…If you have any intelligence, its code for them controlling and keeping the power. That being said, I will totally support Matt’s run for Freeholder for very self-serving reasons. I want him out of this town ( in the worse way ).

    Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    He’s not going anywhere

    Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 8:04 pm | Permalink
  3. Tulip wrote:

    I think the people of Belmar should show their appreciation to the Mayor and vote him a seat on the county board. He can do for the county what he has done for Belmar.I think he should be supported and elected.

    Friday, January 15, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.