Morris County 2017 budget shows increase

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Chair of the Freeholders’ Budget Subcommittee Christine Myers and Budget Subcommittee member Deborah Smith

MORRIS COUNTY — Morris County homeowners will pay an average of $18 more annually in property taxes to fund the services and programs provided by Morris County government through the 2017 county budget introduced by the Board of Freeholders Wednesday, March 22.

The proposed $332.1 million budget includes a tax rate increase of 1.79 percent, according to the board.

The 2017 budget remains within a state-set cap provides level spending in most areas except for contractual employee health insurance, which increased by $6 million.

The budget allows the county to remain financially and operationally efficient. It maintains and, in some areas, expands public safety initiatives; sustains all human services programs, and ensures maintenance of all countywide infrastructure projects.

It also, supports countywide economic development and tourism initiatives, protects the county’s long-standing, top-ranked Triple A bond rating; and preserves a stable level of fund balance required for well-run, top-ranked county governments.

In addition, the freeholders have maintained the county’s voter-approved preservation trust fund that finances vital open space, farmland and historic preservation projects, and provides money for recreational trails and flood mitigation.

To view the proposed 2017 county budget, and previous county budgets, click here.

“Through this budget, Morris County will continue to be the premier place in which to live, work, and raise a family in New Jersey,’’ said Freeholder Christine Myers, chair of the freeholders’ budget subcommittee. “Our county will continue to build our vibrant and sustainable economy and preserve our natural resources and history,’’ she added.

Freeholder Katheryn A. DeFillippo

“We will honor our unique quality of life, assure a safe, well-maintained infrastructure and offer cultural and recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike,’’ said Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, a member of the budget subcommittee. “We will continue to offer compassionate support to those in need and maintain our tradition as a caring community.’’

The 2017 Operating Budget represents a “Year of Transition,” featuring initiatives such as outsourcing of the Morris View Healthcare Center and introduction of a county-wide EMS Program.

It also includes a full year of costs related to Criminal Justice Reform, completion of the remaining Renewable Energy Sites in the county’s Solar II Program, are all conservatively presented.

“We have carefully scrutinized all aspects of county operations to make sure we operate in a lean manner, while offering services that maintain Morris County’s quality of life, by running a modern, efficient and cost effective operation,’’ said Freeholder said Freeholder and Budget Subcommittee member Deborah Smith. “At the same time, the board continues to look at the big picture, at county long-term needs such as a new or enhanced court complex, to ensure we properly plan for the future while ensuring the effective, efficient and ethical stewardship of our residents’ hard earned tax dollars.’’

While maintaining a tight rein on spending, the freeholders’ proposed 2017 budget continues to invest in key programs and initiatives that maintain the high quality of life in the county.

Ongoing Investments in Education, Recreation, and Human Services, include:

• $13.7 million: Morris County Park Commission
• $11.8 million: County College of Morris
• $7 million: Community Based Human Services Agencies
• $6.2 million: Morris County School of Technology
• $5.1 million: Morris County Library and Heritage Commission
• $400,000: Economic Development and Tourism

The 2017 capital budget strategically authorizes $27.1 million to responsibly deal with critical infrastructure needs, with a continued emphasis on:

• $7.8 million: Road improvements, to continue upgrading the county’s road network;
• $4 million: Building and Structure Improvements, including Criminal Justice Reform;
• $2.4 million: Bridge design and replacement projects;
• $2.3 million: Law and Public Safety Equipment;
• $2.2 million: Educational facilities;
• $2.2 million: Public Works Equipment
• $1.5 million: Information Technology

The 2017 Morris County budget also will fund a wide variety of vital Human Services that county residents expect, including more than 500,000 meals annually provided to Morris County’s senior citizens, operation of the Morris View Healthcare Center, which remains home to 283 individuals, a wide variety of Human/Social Service programs, including Aging, Disabilities, and Veteran Services; Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse Services, Emergency Assistance Services and Transportation Services.

The freeholders will consider adoption of their budget at 7:00 p.m. at their Wednesday, April 22 meeting at the Morris Plains Borough Hall, 531 Speedwell Avenue, Morris Plains.

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