News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners
Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner Deputy Director
Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul M. Drake, Commissioner
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2023
Contact Brad Fay at 908-231-7628 for more information
Somerset County Adopts Final 2023 Budget that Maintains All Services at Reduced Tax Rate
S&P Global Ratings Reaffirms County’s AAA Bond Rating
SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners adopted a final 2023 County budget that sustains all programs and services for the County’s more than 345,000 residents and businesses, while continuing fiscally responsible budgeting that results in the County’s recently reaffirmed AAA bond rating.
“More than ever residents, businesses, and non-profits are relying on county government to provide the vital services and disaster recovery efforts that ensure Somerset County’s exceptional quality of life,” said Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “The Board of Commissioners is committed to ensuring these necessary programs are maintained at a high level while limiting the fiscal costs to our residents. This budget, like our other recent budgets, achieve these goals.”
The proposed budget of $265,854,117 includes $219,830,471 to be raised through property taxes, which is $2 million less than what was introduced in April. The increase in the tax bill on the average county home, valued at $510,695, will be $63.41. Due to the rising tax base, the tax rate will drop from .3085 in 2022 to .3004, a reduction of 2.62%.
The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners adopted the budget one week after the largest credit rating agency, S&P Global Ratings, reaffirmed the county’s AAA rating, citing the County’s “sound and strong management” and its “good financial-management policies.”
“The past few years have been challenging for everyone, and I am overwhelmingly proud of our County employees who have worked so hard to support our residents while experiencing the same challenges in their own lives,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Douglas Singleterry. “We are able to be so fiscally responsible in our budgets, and to truly do more with less when inflation is accounted for, because of the incredible people we have working for and with Somerset County.”
Nearly 70% of the budget consists of obligated costs required by state or federal law. The primary drivers of cost increases were health insurance, debt service, and pension obligations. The County continues to manage more than $10 million in deferred costs related to services Somerset County provided to town governments to recover from Hurricane Ida. Nearly all those deferred costs are expected to be reimbursed by FEMA and other Federal agencies.
The 2023 County budget will:
- Maintain significant infrastructure, including 38 parks and open space across 15,000 acres, 248 miles of county roads, and 752 bridges.
- Fund high-performing public health services, 911 communications, emergency response, and training capabilities.
- Fund public safety services provided by the Sheriff’s Office and County Prosecutor.
- Fund comprehensive human services operations, including the Richard Hall Community Health & Wellness Center, during a period of crisis for mental health and substance use.
- Provide vital transit services to our workforce and seniors.
- Support economic development, tourism, and planning.
- Partially fund affiliated agencies including the County Vocational Technical High School, Raritan Valley Community College, Somerset County Park Commission, Social Services, and Somerset County Business Partnership.
The budget includes nearly 200 shared services that save taxpayer dollars:
- Providing municipalities and schools with easy access to shared services via the innovative Somerset County Marketplace.
- Recycling for all 21 municipalities, including schools.
- Transportation services for six municipalities.
- Graphics and printing services for 13 municipalities.
- Vehicle maintenance for 30 municipalities and agencies.
- Vehicle fuel for over 50 agencies.
- Statewide emergency services training.
- Public health services for nine municipalities.
- Full dispatch service for 23 municipalities (two out of county), 41 fire departments, and 17 EMS stations.
- A statewide cooperative purchasing program.
Somerset County Board of County Commissioners
Somerset County is governed and managed by the Board of County Commissioners. The Board consists of five members with one or two elected each year in November in the general election, and they each serve three-year terms. Commissioners serve as liaisons to all divisions in the county.
# # #