Sue Fulton, a Democrat candidate for Monmouth County Freeholder, said she would reduce property taxes by 5% last week at a candidates forum at the Four Seasons 55+ community clubhouse in Manalapan.
Fulton did not say what programs she would cut, or what fiscal gimmicks she would employ, to come up with the $15.275 million. In a television commercial that started airing today on cable, Fulton said,”Cutting taxes won’t be easy. But I learned a long time ago, the the tougher the job, the harder you work.”
Fulton and her running mate, Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, who we already know is sketchy, criticized their opponents, Freeholder Director Tom and Arnone and Deputy Freeholder Director Serena DiMaso, for the $4.5 million dollar property tax cut they made this year. The Democrats said that the cut came from the proceeds of the sale of Monmouth County’s nursing homes and was an election year gimmick to offset a tax increase the Freeholders imposed last year. Doherty and Fulton said that the proceeds of the sale should have been used to pay down debt or invest into another capital assets.
Arnone responded by reminding the audience that when he was there six years ago for his first run for Freeholder, that he promised to reduce the size of County Government. “In six years we reduced the budget, $20 million,” Arnone said, “from $489 million to $469 million.”
“We sold the care centers for $17 million more than we anticipated,” Arnone explained and then rattled off about $200 million worth of capital road and bridge projects the county has either completed or is working on to debunk Doherty’s complaint of the lack of capital investment.
“Our opponents don’t understand county government,” DiMaso said. “Our bonds are callable. Callable bonds are paid off at a premium the earlier you redeem them. We issue callable bonds in order to be able refinance our AAA rated debt when interest rates decline.”
“Don’t take my word for it about the great job we are doing in Monmouth County,” Arnone said, “Take Moody’s and Fitch’s word for it,” he said referring to two of the three credit agencies that have given Monmouth their best credit rating. “We’re the only County in New Jersey and one of only thirty three in the country with these ratings.”
Fulton put down the significance of the AAA bond ratings. “Don’t let them fool you with those bond ratings,” Sketchy Sue said. “We have good bond ratings because the income of our residents is so high. You can’t give them credit for that.”
Monmouth County has the 5th highest median income of New Jersey’s 21 counties according to the 2010 U.S. Census, behind Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset and Bergen. None of those counties have AAA bond ratings.
Doherty said he would work to get Monmouth County out of the controversial Assessment Demonstration Program which reassess 20% of the properties in participating municipalities every year.
Arnone criticized Doherty to failing to follow the law by refusing to perform a revaluation of Belmar properties until the borough, along with Elizabeth and Jersey City, were ordered to do so by the New Jersey Attorney General after ignoring similar orders from the Tax Boards for several years.
“By falling to keep up with your revaluations you ripped off the taxpayers in Monmouth’s other 52 municipalities,” Arnone said. “Belmar hasn’t been paying its fair share of County taxes.”
Doherty admitted his lawlessness. “I’ll do the same for you,” he told the crowd at Four Seasons. “I’ll do anything short of getting in trouble with the law (as opposed to complying with the law) to reduce taxes.”