Somerset County Introduces 2024 Budget that Maintains Services, Makes Key Investments, Reduces Tax Rate

Somerset County Introduces 2024 Budget that Maintains Services, Makes Key Investments, Reduces Tax Rate

At the April 23 public meeting, the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners introduced a fiscally responsible 2024 County budget that preserves vital services for the County’s more than 345,000 residents and increases the surplus or “fund balance” by 9% over 2023. Shown above are Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson and Commissioner Paul Drake viewing the budget presentation.

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners introduced a fiscally responsible 2024 County budget that preserves vital services for the County’s more than 345,000 residents while preserving the County’s important AAA Bond Rating and increases the surplus or “fund balance” by 9% over 2023.

“We have worked hard to keep our operating costs in line while making important long-term investments in our residents, infrastructure, and economy,” said Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “Examples are the first expansion of our Vocational-Technical High School campus in 17 years, new efforts to attract and retain employers, and the largest open space acquisition in two decades.”

“Somerset County provides a great quality of life and making a home here is a fantastic investment,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Sara Sooy, referring to the increase in property valuations. The County’s total assessed real property value is more than $78 billion, up 7 % from last year and more than 25% since 2020.

The proposed budget of $270,819,836 is up 1.87% from 2023 and includes $226,416,726 to be raised through property taxes. The average county home valued at $550,000 (up $39,000 from 2023) will see a modest annual increase of $54.10 in the County’s portion of their property tax bill. The tax rate will decline by 3.9% to .2888 from .3004 per $1,000 of assessed home value.

Nearly 70% of the budget consists of obligated costs required by State or Federal law. The primary costs driving increases for the year were health insurance, debt service, and special costs associated with the 2024 Presidential Election.

In 2024 Somerset County will use its dedicated open space fund to preserve the largest tract of land in two decades, the former Hillsborough Golf Club on 402 acres off Wertsville Road in Hillsborough. The cost of $6.2 million will be shared by the New Jersey’s Green Acres program, Hillsborough Township, and Somerset County.

Many of the county’s major new investments—including at the Vo-Tech High School and at Raritan Valley Community College—are funded through the county’s American Rescue Plan funds, or other Federal or State grants. The County also is receiving significant funding through the National Opioid Settlement fund that are being used to support substance use disorder programs.

A public hearing on the proposed County budget will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14. Residents are encouraged to watch and participate in the public hearing at the Commissioners’ Meeting Room on the third floor of the Administration Building at 20 Grove Street, Somerville, NJ, or via the County’s website. Questions and comments can be sent to countyboardmeeting@co.somerset.nj.us prior to and during the meeting.

The presentation of the budget introduction Tuesday evening is available on the county website here.

The 2024 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 the Sheriff’s Office, Prosecutor, and Corrections Facilities.
  • Fund comprehensive human services operations 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 15 municipalities (two out of county), EMS dispatch services in 7 more towns, plus fire only in 4 towns.
  • 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.

To stay up to date with Somerset County events and information, sign up for free email alerts at www.co.somerset.nj.us/subscribe or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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