HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – Hunterdon County has invested in high value projects and programs, building a foundation for the future while continuing to gain major grant funding and freezing the County tax rate for the fifth straight year, the Board’s Director, Zach Rich, told the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce’s Employer Legislative Committee (ELC), in his state of the County report at the ELC’s meeting May 25.
During remarks delivered at the Chamber’s Unity Bank Center for Business & Entrepreneurship and over Zoom, Rich said, “Hunterdon County continues to be recognized as the safest, healthiest, and best to live and I have previously credited past Hunterdon Boards with establishing the solid foundation that has made the County’s recent fiscal and operational achievements possible. And I believe it is the current Board’s responsibility, and a most important goal, to continue supporting and further building that foundation for the County’s future.”
“Freezing the tax rate since 2018 and carrying no county debt are part of maintaining that foundation, but so are the many investments in high value projects and programs, such as the Chamber Foundation’s small business development plan, which the County has supported with $358,000 in federal American Rescue Funds,” Rich said.
“The Board has been very judicious and careful with the allocation of those federal dollars. We have established a framework that funding should be awarded in a targeted and meaningful manner that makes a lasting impact in our community and we believe the Chamber Foundation’s plan meets that criteria,” Rich said.
Rich provided insight into several major County projects including the upgrade at the Emergency Services Training Complex, new technology for the 9-1-1 Communications Center, a new universal playground at Deer Path Park, collaborating with the Vocational School District to construct a 36,000 square foot career and technical school building that is 75% state grant funded, as well as improvements at the Main County Library and the Historic Courthouse and scheduled for the County Arboretum.
Rich also referenced the County Tourism program, saying, “Explore Hunterdon – The Other Side of Jersey, is more than a slogan, however, it does simply capture exactly what should be promoted. We are very proud to be a different side of Jersey then most people think of. Local agri-business and other tourism enterprises are attesting to business growth, thanks to the success of the tourism initiative and the on-line resources the 579 Trail, Hunterdon Main Streets, and the very popular Hunterdon Beer Trail.”
The Commissioner Board Director also reported, “The County aggressively pursues grant opportunities that can help to offset taxpayer costs for necessary projects and services.”
Rich listed a $3.1 million state health grant recently obtained by the County Health Department to be used to improve public health infrastructure, readiness for public health emergency response, and equitable access to healthcare, $2.3 million and $800,000 in FEMA reimbursements for Hurricane Ida and COVID mitigation respectively gained by the County’s OEM Division, $1.5 million from the NJ Historic Trust for the Historic Courthouse project and $351,000 from the Highlands Council for the economic development initiative.
“The County’s success can be attributed to our entire Board; Deputy Director Jeff Kuhl and three former Board Directors, Commissioners John Lanza, Sue Soloway and Shaun Van Doren. The Commissioners working together, along with our Constitutional Officers, our Administrator Brad Myhre, and the various Department leaders and staff, are focused on continuing to develop the foundation that will maintain Hunterdon County as the safest, healthiest, and best county in America in the years to come,” Rich siad.