Monmouth County freeholders reduce 2011 budget by $3.7M

The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders has reduced the proposed 2011 budget by an additional $3.7 million, thanks to cuts from the sheriff’s office.

The revised county budget would be $492.3 million, down $1.1 million from the previous year’s adopted budget. The new amount to be raised by taxation would be $309.3 million, up $6.8 million, or 2.26 percent.

The new figures were announced to the public during a budget presentation March 3 at the Eastern Branch of the county library system, here. More cuts may be proposed before the scheduled adoption on March 24 at the Hall of Records in Freehold, the freeholders said.

Sheriff Shaun Golden offered a $66.9 million budget that is 1.2 percent lower than the 2010 adopted spending. (The $3.7 million savings stems from his requested appropriation.)

Under his savings plan, Golden trimmed $3.2 million in salaries and overtime pay, and slashed $500,000 in expenses.

Golden said after the meeting that revenue for each of his divisions — corrections, communications and law enforcement — has increased.

“I anticipate revenue will be the same, if not better, next year,” the sheriff said, adding that he will continue to push for shared service agreements with local towns.

The sheriff noted that his office was the only county agency to close an entire operation, the Youth Detention Center. While the closure is expected to result in huge savings, those figures were not reflected in this year’s budget.

Cynthia Scott, a spokesman for the sheriff, confirmed Tuesday that six positions will be eliminated through attrition. They include three from the jail and three from law enforcement. The sheriff, she said, also will postpone the hiring of 10 911 dispatchers and one systems analyst at the 911 Communications Center.

There were some new hires and promotions, however. Golden announced last month the appointment of two new undersheriffs and shifted Scott from an undersheriff spot to a title that was more suitable for her role, public information officer.

Retired Spring Lake Police Chief Robert Dawson and Michael Donovan Jr., a retired lieutenant with the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, were both sworn into office by Superior Court Judge Lawrence Lawson on Feb. 15.

Dawson, of Spring Lake, will earn $88,125 as head of the communications center, the job Golden had been hired to perform. Goldne had continued to oversee the center prior to Dawson’s arrival.

Donovan, of Neptune, became chief warrant officer in 2008. He is paid $87,550 to oversee the law enforcement division, which includes foreclosures, warrants, prisoner transfer and courthouse security. Scott said his old post has not been filled.

The two men join Theodore Freeman, who has been undersheriff since 2004 and serves as acting sheriff in Golden’s absence. Freeman, of Spring Lake, earns $90,330 to oversee special operations.

Eric Brophy, the Democratic candidate for sheriff last year, blasted Golden for allowing Donovan to collect a pension and a salary. The state Division of Pensions reported the undersheriffs are currently collecting a pension in the following amounts for their respective law enforcement service: Dawson, $8,036.59; Donovan, $7,161.59; and Freeman, $4,934.48.

Golden also backfilled several positions at the jail. The following officers were also sworn into office on Feb. 15: a deputy warden, two captains, two lieutenants and seven sergeants.

Freeholder Thomas Arnone said the board must focus on which departments are losing revenue and figure out why. Freeholders John Curley and Amy Mallet pointed to the nursing homes as money drains.

One resident suggested the county sell off unneeded properties to help balance the budget — as Curley has recommended — and start with the nursing homes.

Freeholder Lillian Burry said the board is actively working on selling them.

“We’re closer to a conclusion than you realize,” she said.

Nina Rizzo: 201-838-8318; nrizzo@njpressmedia.com

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About Maria Paulina Pagano

As a Realtor for the last twenty years and a Monmouth County resident for twenty-four years, I have accumulated extensive and invaluable knowledge of the Real Estate Market and Market Trends. Member of Ocean, Monmouth, & Middlesex MLS.
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