Monmouth County has a goal of preserving 20,000 acres of undeveloped land. Voters will decide in November whether to fund the next step of the county plan.
The last question on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election will ask voters to support the Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund with an additional 1.25 cents per $100 of equalized assessed property value. The money will go toward preserving open space in the county and maintaining the existing county park system.
The increase will cost the average homeowner in the county little more than a cup of coffee per week.
The American Littoral Society supports efforts to preserve and increase open space in New Jersey because of the many benefits open space brings, both to the environment and people.
Monmouth taxpayers now pay about 1.5 cents per $100 in equalized assessed property value to fund the Open Space Trust Fund. A taxpayer with a home assessed at $200,000 is paying $30 a year in Open Space tax. If the ballot measure is approved, that same taxpayer will be paying an additional $25 annually or about 50 cents more a week.
The Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund provides funding to guarantee permanent preservation of land for recreation, water quality protection, floodplain protection, and to maintain the operations of a nationally accredited park system. Since its inception in 1989, the Trust Fund has maintained a clean record of public spending. Spending decisions are carefully overseen by a public board with numerous citizen representatives.
While New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the US and Monmouth is one of the fastest growing counties in the state, preserving open space isn't just about aesthetics.
“It’s not too late to save our remaining open lands, protect our water quality, and ensure our property taxes are kept in check by avoiding over-development," says Benson Chiles, Chairman of the Save Open Space in Monmouth Committee. "We can still do something about it by voting yes on the county ballot question."
Open Space in Monmouth formed recently for the sole purpose of making sure these is enough money available to protect our dwindling natural resources in Monmouth County.
For example, rivers like the Navesink are already badly polluted and developed land funnels contaminants into the water much more than open space. Last year the NJ Department of Environmental Protection acted to prohibit shellfish harvesting due to contaminants in much of the river.
In addition to protecting watersheds, open space in New Jersey provides a host of other benefits according to the Nature Conservancy. Among them:
The American Littoral Society stands with organizations such as the Monmouth Conservation Foundation in urging Monmouth County voters to Vote Yes on the Open Space Proposal at the upcoming election.
The following is the question as it will appear on the ballot:
Open Space Proposal
Should the County of Monmouth increase its dedication to the Monmouth County Open Space, Recreation, Floodplain Protection, and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund from the previously approved and implemented annual levy of 1.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation to 2.75 cents per $100 of equalized valuation, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:12-15.2(e), with the annual levy to be used for any or all of the purposes set forth in N.J.S.A. 40:12-15.2(a) (1)
This proposition would approve an increase in the annual collection rate from 1.5 cents per $100 of equalized valuation to 2.75 cents per $100 of equalized valuation through which the County of Monmouth funds the Monmouth County Open Space Trust Fund. The Open Space Trust Fund supports the current program to acquire and preserve open space for County park and recreational areas, to conserve natural resources and to protect water quality, to develop and maintain the system of County public recreation, which Includes those County lands acquired for recreation and conservation purposes, to acquire easements to preserve County farmland, and to participate in cooperative park and recreation projects with Monmouth County municipalities, thereby permanently preserving these areas, providing recreational opportunities, conserving natural resources and protecting water quality for future generations of Monmouth County residents. Increasing the rate will enable the funding for open space acquisition to keep pace with rising land costs and with the loss of land to development.