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Morris County Freeholders adopt 2020 budget with no tax rate increase

The Morris County Board of Freeholders this week adopted county government’s $315.8 million 2020 budget, which will include no tax increase for existing county taxpayers.

The fiscally sensible 2020 budget offers enhanced public safety, veterans and social services programs, addressing the opioid epidemic and child daycare needs. It provides greater investment in economic development and a continued emphasis on the county’s road, bridge, and facilities infrastructure.

“We scrutinized all areas of county government to ensure that we have a modern, efficient and fiscally sound operation, and one that offers fiscal restraint,’’ Freeholder Director and Budget Committee Chair Deborah Smith said. “This budget expands our funding of vital services while not increasing the county tax rate.’’

“This budget incorporates all of the current critical needs of our county residents while also taking a far-reaching look at the county’s future,’’ Freeholder and Budget Committee member Kathy DeFillippo said.

The budget delivers in three key areas: no tax increase, as we do our part to keep Morris affordable; improving vital services for our children and veterans, while financing programs to deal with mental health and substance use/addiction issues,’’ Freeholder and Budget Committee member John Krickus said.

It also keeps Morris County — The Infrastructure County — with a robust program for  roads, bridges, buildings, educational institutions, plus parks and open space,’’ he added.

The proposed 2020 county budget supports countywide economic development, protects the county’s top-ranked Triple A bond rating, and preserves a stable level of fund balance required for well-run county governments.

Also, the freeholders are continuing the county’s voter-approved preservation trust fund that finances open space, farmland and historic preservation projects, and provides funding for recreational trails and flood mitigation.

Some new and expanded programs, to be done through partnerships, include:

  • Expanded Morris County EMS Initiative to add a fifth Basic Life Support EMS unit for as-needed backup emergency response service to all 39 Morris County municipalities;
  • Increased staffing in the Morris County Veterans’ Services Office;
  • Allocation of $200,000 to fund aerial spraying for mosquito control in response to a shortfall in the state budget;
  • Roll out of the STAR (Successful Transition and Reentry) Program, which is a partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, court system, and county Human Services Department that addresses criminal recidivism – helping to improve public safety;
  • Expanded investments in community based Human Services programs to address the needs of chronically mentally ill residents by financing the Safe Haven program;
  • Allocation of funds to absorb 2020 cost increases to towns for the county run Municipal 911 Emergency Dispatch System;
  • Expanded social services assistance by creating enhanced out-stationing in the Dover area, and also by purchasing a new vehicle for the Sheriff’s Hope One Program that targets the opioid epidemic;
  • Entering into a partnership with Head Start of Morris County to double the capacity of child daycare services for at-risk families in the greater Morristown area, with a new center expected to open in September;
  • Expanding investment in economic development with $150,000 in additional funding.

Capital Budget: The 2020 budget authorizes $38.3 million in county funds ($52.9 million combined with state and federal grants) to responsibly deal with critical infrastructure needs, including county roads and bridges; public safety technology and security enhancements; parks, education and building maintenance needs.

The capital budget, created by a subcommittee including Freeholders John Krickus, Tom Mastrangelo, and Stephen Shaw includes:

$23 million is dedicated for roads, bridges, railroads, and environmental cleanup, including:

  • Resurfacing 32.6 miles of county roads in 16 towns, including Kinnelon Road in Kinnelon, Mt. Hope Avenue in Rockaway Township, Columbia Turnpike in Florham Park, and Long Hill Road in Harding and Long Hill townships;
  • Bridge projects, including Berkshire Valley Road in Jefferson, Parsippany Road in Parsippany, and Schooley’s Mountain Road in Washington Township;

Some other major capital funding:

  • $9.3 million for CCM and Morris County School of Technology campus upgrades;
  • $8.7 million for county facility projects and upgrades;
  • $7.8 million for law enforcement/public safety;
  • $2.4 million for Information Technology equipment and upgrades, and maintenance vehicles;
  • $1.7 million: Park Commission improvements.

To view the county’s 2020 adopted budget, click here.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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