The Morris County Board of Freeholders Monday night introduced the county government’s $315.8 million 2020 budget, which will include no tax increase for existing county taxpayers.
The fiscally prudent 2020 budget, approved by a 6-0 vote, will provide enhanced public safety, veterans and social services programs, including efforts to address the opioid epidemic and child daycare needs, plus greater investments in economic development and a continued emphasis on maintaining the county’s road, bridge, and facilities infrastructure.
“We carefully reviewed all aspects of county operations to ensure that we run a modern, efficient and cost-effective county government, and also one that operates with an eye towards fiscal restraint,’’ said Freeholder Director and Budget Committee Chair Deborah Smith. “This budget addresses and expands our financing of critical 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,’’ said Freeholder and Budget Committee member Kathy DeFillippo.
“Through the 2020 budget, our county will continue to be the Number One place in New Jersey to live, work, and raise a family,’’ said Freeholder and Budget Committee member John Krickus.
“It also ensures that Morris County remains THE infrastructure leader in New Jersey by continuing major investments in county roads and bridges, the county college, school of technology, county parks, and our excellent public safety and communications systems,’’ Krickus said.
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:
The $23 million is dedicated for roads, bridges, railroads, and environmental cleanup, including:
- Resurfacing of 32.6 miles of county roads in 16 municipalities, 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 and culvert projects, including Berkshire Valley Road in Jefferson, Parsippany Road over Troy Brook in Parsippany, and Schooley’s Mountain Road over the Raritan River in Washington Township;
Some other major capital funding:
- $9.3 million for County College of Morris and Morris County School of Technology campus upgrades;
- $8.7 million for county facility projects and upgrades;
- $7.8 million for law enforcement;
- $2.4 million for Information Technology equipment and upgrades, and maintenance vehicles;
- $1.7 million: Park Commission improvements.
The freeholders will consider adoption of their operating budget at the Wednesday, March 11 meeting at 7:00 p.m. in Morristown.
To View the county’s 2020 proposed budget, click here.