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Monmouth County voters pass open space tax question

Monmouth County residents who went to the polls on Nov. 7 passed a public question that will produce more tax revenue that will be used to acquire and preserve open space properties.

According to results posted by the Monmouth County Clerk’s Office, the vote was 87,335 (57.5 percent) in favor to 64,448 (42.5 percent) opposed. As a result, the county’s open space tax rate will rise from 1.5 cents to 2.75 cents per $100 of equalized valuation.

The county counsel has said no further action is required by the Board of Freeholders to enact the mandate.

Commenting on the results of the public question, Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said, “I am thrilled, but not surprised that Monmouth County residents voted in favor of the initiative. The citizens of this county have long recognized and appreciated the benefits of carefully planned protection of our natural resources.

“The preservation of open lands has provided a permanent foundation that generations for years to come will be able to build upon. It is an asset that serves the entire county and it is one of the best investments we can make in our future,” Burry said.

In 2017, the open space tax (1.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation) is expected to produce $17.7 million in revenue that county officials use to acquire and preserve land throughout 53 municipalities.

Craig R. Marshall, the county’s chief financial officer and county treasurer, has said that with a tax rate of 2.75 cents per $100 in place, $33 million in revenue will be generated annually for those purposes.

The open space tax rate, when applied to the assessed value of an individual’s property, determines the amount a property owner pays into the county’s open space trust fund on an annual basis.

County officials use those funds to pursue a policy of preserving public open space, providing public recreation opportunities, conserving natural resources and protecting water quality, according to the freeholders.

On an assessment of $200,000, a property owner currently pays $30 per year into the county’s open space trust fund. With a tax rate of 2.75 cents, that will increase to $55 per year.

On an assessment of $400,000, a property owner currently pays $60 per year into the county’s open space trust fund. With a tax rate of 2.75 cents, that will increase to $110 per year.

On an assessment of $600,000, a property owner currently pays $90 per year into the county’s open space trust fund. With a tax rate of 2.75 cents, that will increase to $165 per year.

On an assessment of $800,000, a property owner currently pays $120 per year into the county’s open space trust fund. With a tax rate to 2.75 cents, that will increase to $220 per year.

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