TOMS RIVER – Halfway through the year, Ocean County’s budget will surpass $400 million, with millions of dollars added to help superstorm Sandy victims.
The county Board of Freeholders on Wednesday introduced an amendment that would increase the proposed 2014 budget an additional $35.6 million, bringing it to $435.6 million, the result of last-minute revenue from the state and federal governments, most of which is earmarked for victims of superstorm Sandy.
The spending plan, first introduced in March, finally is expected to be adopted Wednesday.
County Comptroller Julie N. Tarrant said $33.8 million represents federal disaster aid to county residents in the form of the Sandy Homeowner/Renter Assistance Program, also known as SHRAP.
Financial assistance is available to help individuals and families with expenses for housing, current or past due utility payments and for the replacement of essential items such as furniture and appliances. To be eligible, the expense must be a direct result of the disaster, according to the state Department of Human Services.
The program is limited to six months of assistance per household. In order to be eligible for the program, an individual or family must have financial distress directly related to housing, which is a direct result of the Oct. 29, 2012, disaster. They also must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident; currently not receiving Work First New Jersey benefits or eligible for Supplemental Security Income emergency assistance and a blood relative of an affected household, all according to the state department.
The remaining $1.8 million in the budget amendment is earmarked for the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and constitutes revenue generated by the state Superior Court in Toms River owed that law enforcement agency, Tarrant said.
The five-member, all-Republican freeholder board will meet in a special public session at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday to adopt the amendment and the budget in the first floor meeting room of the Ocean County Administration Building at 101 Hooper Ave. in Toms River.
“This amendment today has no effect on the county tax rate or what we raise in taxation or on future county budgets,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who is director of finance on the board.