No tax rate increase in Morris County budget for 5th consecutive year

March 14, 2024

WRNJ Radio

By Jay Edwards

Budget Structurally Balanced; 8.8% Ratable Growth Offsets Costs

MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Board of County Commissioners tonight introduced their 2024 Budget with no increase in the tax rate for a fifth consecutive year, due to another year of growing ratables and prudent fiscal management to overcome rising costs.

“Despite state mandates driving up costs and hikes in expenses that are out of our control, such as health care costs, Morris County is again introducing a thoughtful, fiscally responsible budget. It addresses our obligation as County Commissioners to provide the services our residents require and deserve. It makes the investments necessary to keep Morris County the premier county in New Jersey, and yet it still enables us to keep the tax rate flat,” said Commissioner Deborah Smith, Chair of the Commissioners’ Budget Committee.

The proposed $365.3 million spending plan was presented to the full board by the Budget Committee, including Commissioners Doug Cabana and John Krickus. The plan continues to prioritize investments in public safety, infrastructure, education and economic development, and expands services to veterans.

Highlights in the budget include:

  • A combined $77.8 million towards public safety.
  • More than $24 million to support education, including career training at the County College of Morris and the Morris County Vocational School District.
  • A record $900,000 invested in Economic Development and Tourism, with $100,000 for planning Morris County’s celebration of the American Revolution.
  • $9 million to support the Morris County Park Commission, stewards of the largest county park system in New Jersey (20,455 acres of parkland)
  • Adding $300,000 to homeless services provided by the Office of Temporary Assistance, with a total of $38.1 million for Human Services and Health Services.

“Public safety remains a paramount interest.  The 2024 Budget provides strong funding to our Sheriff’s Department, his Patrol Division, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and our Department of Law & Public Safety,” said Commissioner Krickus, noting public safety spending is being increased by more than $3 million.

Prudent fiscal management and an 8.8 percent increase in ratables also helped Morris County to address growing expenses forced by mounting state mandates on operations at the Morris County Clerk’s Office and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.

“Our 2024 Budget also continues the Preservation Trust Fund investments that bolster the quality of life here and attract the people and businesses making Morris County the premier place to live, work and raise a family,” said Commissioner Krickus. “To date, we have invested $169 million in farmland preservation, $295 million in open space preservation, $50 million into historic preservation, $100 million into flood mitigation and $5 million in trail design and construction.”

The budget also focuses on the needs of veterans and families facing homelessness.

“We continue to expand our commitment to our veterans by funding a fourth Veterans Service Officer and a seasonal intern. We also are expanding our services to the growing homeless population,” said Commissioner Doug Cabana.

“We certainly are grateful to have nonprofit partners helping us to address the needs of our neighbors who find themselves seeking shelter. But it should be understood by everyone that the Morris County’s Human Services Department and its Office of Temporary Assistance serve the majority of our homeless population — and the most troubled individuals found in that population,” Cabana said.

The 2024 Budget doubles to $300,000 a line item in emergency assistance funding to shelter and support people experiencing homelessness. The budget also allocates another $150,000 toward funding allocated to prevent people from becoming homeless.

The introduced 2024 Budget also includes the 2024 Capital Spending Plan initially presented in December, putting nearly $35 million toward many projects, among them road resurfacing, improving intersections replacing bridges in the county and maintaining county facilities.

The Morris County Commissioners will consider adoption of the 2024 Budget at their Wednesday, April 10 public meeting.