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SOMERVILLE Expense controls, and increased revenues from a shared services program with Hunterdon County and more businesses have allowed the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders to introduce a 2018 county budget this week that reduces the county tax rate.
According to a news release, the tax reduction is possible because the county has seen additional revenue from its shared jail program with Hunterdon County, which closed its jail. In addition, there is a 2.25-percent increase in the county’s ratable base.
“While Trenton is poised to increase the burden on taxpayers, Somerset County is once again keeping its pledge to deliver quality services to residents in a cost-effective manner. There will be no increase in the county taxes Somerset County residents pay,” said Freeholder Mark Caliguire, finance committee chair, in the news release. “We manage government efficiently and effectively in Somerset County, and the results speak for themselves. The work gets done and residents this year won’t pay a penny more than last year.”
A public hearing on the county budget proposal is set for May 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the county administration building at 20 Grove St., Somerville.
 
“I am proud of the work our staff has done to manage government the way it should be managed," Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione said in the news release. "No county has a better open space program than Somerset. No county has better parks than we do. No county maintains their roads and bridges better than we do. And we provide these services and programs as efficiently as anyone.”
According to the news release, the proposed $237,581,934 county budget includes $191,689,404 to be raised by taxation. The 2018 county tax rate will decrease by 1.15 percent, from .3213 to .3177 per $100 of assessed value. The average county home valued at $430,474 will see an overall county tax decrease of 7 cents for the year.
Somerset County also has retained its triple-A ranking from the major bond-rating services: Moody’s, Fitch’s and Standard & Poor’s.
According to the news release, the proposed 2018 county budget will:
  • Keep health-benefits costs flat for the first time in a decade.
  • Fully fund the new Partnership Health Center for county employees.
  • Fully fund the Somerset County Emergency Services Training Academy.
  • Maintain 248 center lane miles of county roads and 752 bridges.
  • Maintain 38 park, recreation and open space areas encompassing 15,000 acres.
  • Provide 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 and Park Commission.
 
The budget includes the following shared services:
  • Recycling for all 21 municipalities, including schools.
  • Transportation services for three municipalities and four nonprofit organizations.
  • Vehicle maintenance for 14 municipalities.
  • Vehicle fueling for more than 50 agencies.
  • Statewide emergency services training.
  • Health services for eight municipalities.
  • Housing inmates from Hunterdon County.
 
Somerset County covers all costs for the following services:
 
  • 911 public safety answering points (PSAPs) for 20 municipalities.
  • Full dispatch service for 15 municipalities, 14 police departments, 38 fire departments and 18 EMS stations.
  • A statewide cooperative purchasing program.
 
 
 
 

Somerset County: Levine Honored by NJ Conference of Mayors

Freeholder Brian D. Levine was named Freeholder of the Year by the New Jersey Conference of Mayors at its annual conference.

Post Date: 05/12/2017 4:11 PM
showimageSomerset County Freeholder Brian D. Levine has been named Freeholder of the Year by the New Jersey Conference of Mayors. The organization’s executive officers presented the award during their recent annual conference, citing the former Franklin Township mayor’s efforts as a dedicated public servant. 

“I feel honored – and humbled – to receive this recognition,” said Freeholder Levine. “I love meeting all of the people and constituents in Somerset County and around New Jersey. I take my responsibilities to heart and provide service not for any recognition, but because I feel I am doing the right thing. I am happy to hear feedback from those who disagree with me. I will continue to strive to live up to the expectations of our residents.

“I think the recognition came due to my work over the years in Franklin, Somerset County and New Jersey in the areas of public safety, housing, finance, human services and constituent service,” he said. “In addition, I have been active in the New Jersey Conference of Mayors around the state – it is a great organization that helps mayors on a bipartisan basis for the benefit of our citizenry.”

Freeholder Levine has been in public service since 1998.  He has been a freeholder since 2015, served on the Franklin Township Council from 1998 to 2003, and was Franklin Township mayor from 2004 to 2014. Currently he is the county human services chairman and is liaison to numerous committees, including the Local Advisory Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, Board of Social Services, County Alliance Steering Subcommittee, Cultural Diversity Coalition, Cultural & Heritage Commission, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Advisory Board and Youth Services Commission.

He is an alternate liaison to the Joint Insurance Fund, New Jersey Association of Counties, Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center Community Advisory Council and the Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board.

NJCM Executive Director John Morrissey said Levine was selected to receive the award by the NJCM Executive Board from a pool of distinguished freeholders from throughout the state. “Brian is very deserving of this award due to his outstanding constituent service and his contributions to the numerous boards and commissions on which he sits,” Morrissey said. “He was also a dedicated member of the NJCM when he served as mayor of Franklin Township and we remember the important contributions he made to our organization during that time.”