N.J. Division of Local Government Services
Tim noted that municipal taxes in Ocean County had risen 1.64% from 2016 to 2017, lower than the state average, and that county taxes had risen by 2.54%, higher than the state average. However, he warned the 2% cap on municipal tax increases is still in place while the 2% cap on interest arbitration has expired. Interest arbitration applies when agreements cannot be reached on police and fire contracts. Those arbitrated settlements can now exceed 2%. At the same time, inflation will probably be returning to levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008. Municipalities, he said, have some challenges ahead.
Tim explained the Division has been ironing out wrinkles in the new FAST system for automating the processing financial reports from municipalities. FAST stands for Financial Automation Submission Tracking.
Computerizing the division’s paper processes was at least 20 years overdue, he explained, and was complex and difficult to program. Tim said that despite initial complaints and requests to return to paper, it was critical to stick with the system until the kinks were worked out. If the program had stalled, he said, it might have failed to the detriment of both the state and its municipalities. The FAST program has now reached “critical mass,’ and will succeed, Tim said.
The Ocean County Mayors’ Association has been found tax exempt by the IRS. Donations are deductible. Documentation of this determination and related financial disclosure documents are available for public examination.