SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders have adopted an amended 2020 budget that preserves needed services for the county’s more than 331,160 citizens, maintains a flat budget, and reduces the tax rate by 1.31%.

“Due to the COVID-19 crisis, government at all levels is facing reduced revenues and a need to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money,” said Freeholder Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “The budget we started with would have increased spending and taxes, but we were able to eliminate any increase while preserving the Somerset County services that help make our communities so desirable.”

Despite the current state of the economy and the severe loss of revenue facing all levels of government due to COVID-19, the Freeholders were able to keep the amount raised by taxation flat. The adopted 2020 budget totals $251,971,591, with $197,696,981 raised by taxation which is the same as the 2019 levy.

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Due to increased Somerset County property values, the county tax rate will decrease from .3218 to .3176, or 1.31%. For the average county home valued at $439,592 that will result in an annual tax decrease of about $9.11 for the year.

"In these difficult times, I am proud that we are able to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars by maintaining our services while reducing the cost of providing them,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Sara Sooy. “Whether it’s taking care of our seniors, funding education for our VoTech and RVCC students, providing COVID-19 testing, or delivering any of our other services that our residents deserve, we do it as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Somerset County also has retained its triple-A ranking from Standard & Poors due to its responsible and efficient budgeting and service delivery.

The amended 2020 county budget will:

Fully fund the Somerset County Emergency Services Training Academy.

Fully fund the county employee health center.

Maintain 248 centerline miles of county roads and 752 bridges.

Maintain 38 parks, recreation and open space areas encompassing 15,000 acres.

Fund nearly 200 shared services with local governments and other organizations in the county.

Provide partial funding for the Vocational-Technical High School, Raritan Valley Community College, Board of Social Services, Somerset County Business Partnership and Somerset County Park Commission.

Partially fund the Somerset County Business Partnership.

The budget includes the following shared services that save taxpayer dollars:

Recycling for all 21 municipalities, including schools.

Transportation services for five municipalities and three nonprofit organizations.

Vehicle maintenance for 14 municipalities.

Vehicle fueling for more than 50 agencies.

Statewide emergency services training.

Health services for eight municipalities.

Somerset County covers all costs for the following services that benefit residents:

911 public safety answering points (PSAPs) for 20 municipalities.

Full dispatch service for 16 municipalities (one out of county), 41 fire departments and 17 EMS stations.

A statewide cooperative purchasing program.