MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morris County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously adopted the county government’s 2021 Budget, a spending plan that imposes no tax increase.
Commissioners stated the 2021 budget “holds the line on county taxes while maintaining spending on critical infrastructure projects, the continuing COVID-19 response, human services and public safety”.
The $320 million budget includes reserves for unforeseen impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, a $35.8 million Capital Spending Plan and directs $38.6 million toward educational, cultural and economic initiatives emphasized by the commissioners to serve all 39 Morris County municipalities.
“Morris County residents have come to depend on a certain level of services and programs, including infrastructure improvements that this budget will continue to deliver,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Deborah Smith, chair of the board’s Budget Committee. “While putting this spending plan together, we also remained cognizant that household finances have been pushed to the edge by this pandemic and the resulting economic fallout. We made certain not to increase the tax burden on Morris County families.”
In preparation for unforeseen economic developments posed as the pandemic continues into the year, the new budget also maintains a stable reserve balance, while continuing to support the most vulnerable populations in the county, said officials.
“This is a fiscally responsible spending plan for 2021 that continues our commitment to help people in need and provide opportunities for struggling families and individuals to improve their lives. More than $23 million is specifically directed toward community-based human services initiatives,” said Commissioner Kathryn DeFillippo, a Budget Committee member from Roxbury.
A $35.8 million Capital Spending Plan is included in the 2021 Budget, to be offset by $11 million in grants. It dedicates $9.5 million toward 28 miles of road resurfacing in 19 towns and $4.9 million on bridge and culvert projects.
Among the planned road improvement projects are:
- Bartley Road/Bartley Chester Road in Washington and Mt. Olive townships
- Green Pond Road in Rockaway Township
- Boonton Avenue in Montville Township
- Lincoln Park Road/Oak Road in Pequannock Township
Morris County expedited the 9-1-1 Communications Center upgrades initially proposed for this year to take advantage of favorable interest rates in 2020. The $26 million project will double the operating capacity of the county’s emergency radio network and infrastructure, which is relied upon daily by all Morris County law enforcement, emergency management and municipal first responders.
The 2021 Budget dedicates $18.8 million to support the County College of Morris, the Morris County Vocational School District, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the Morris County Office of the Superintendent of Schools. Other program investments include:
- $5.8M for the Morris County Library and Heritage Commission
- $13.4 million dedicated to the 20,100-acre Morris County Park Commission system.
- $591K for Economic Development and Tourism
COVID-19 Pandemic Response
The 2021 Budget anticipates a continuation of Morris County’s dedicated response to the virus outbreak, including:
- Operating and staffing the Morris County COVID-19 Regional Vaccination Center at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall, where more than 3,500 vaccinations are being delivered per day, seven days per week.
- Continuing the COVID-19 testing facility at the County College of Morris
- Expanding Emergency Management and Public Health resources to maintain Morris County’s response to an unpredictable virus outbreak