TOMS RIVER – The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders simply will not take no for an answer.

The Board on July 1 unanimously passed another resolution calling on Gov. Phil Murphy and the State Legislature to immediately reinstate two vital senior citizen tax relief programs.

“Both the Property Tax Reimbursement Program and the Homestead Rebate need to be priorities in the state budget and must be returned to our seniors as soon as possible,” said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “Trenton cannot balance the budget on the backs of our senior citizens,” Vicari said.

Earlier this month Vicari made an impassioned plea to the governor not to cut these vital programs.

“Our most vulnerable and frailest residents have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Vicari said. “Counties and municipalities have worked hand in hand to provide as much assistance as possible to help them through this time. This proposed action by the state will be a detriment to the people who have been affected the most.”

The Freeholder’s resolution also asks the county’s legislators and mayors to join the fight and protest the elimination of these programs.

Noting that about 60,000 local seniors could be impacted by these cuts, Vicari said the impact would be especially devastating in Ocean County.

“The effect on Ocean County will be disproportionate from the rest of the state because we have the largest senior population in the state,” Vicari said. “Now is not the time to introduce this change.”

According to the Elder Economic Security Standard, the average Social Security benefit provides an elderly person living alone in Ocean County only 54 to 76 percent of the amount needed to cover basic expenses. Moreover, elders in Ocean County living alone on an income equivalent to the federal poverty guideline can cover only 36 to 51 percent of their basic living expenses.

“When your monthly income is no more than $1,400 from Social Security, taking away these programs will only increase the severe financial hardship already experienced by this vulnerable population,” Vicari said. “Simply put, our seniors depend on these state programs. They are a necessity.”

The Murphy Administration already eliminated the Homestead Benefit credit from property tax bills that were due on May 1st, forcing homeowners to pay more and has now created an uncertain future for the valuable tax credit, Vicari said.