UNION COUNTY, NJ — For the second year in a row, the Union County Board of County Commissioners has passed a budget with a zero-percent tax increase.
The 2021 budget was passed at the meeting on Thursday, April 22, and will maintain all essential services. It continues the county’s trend of fiscally responsible budgets and maintains the county’s bond rating, which is the highest attainable.
“I am pleased to announce that we have again adopted a budget with a zero-percent tax increase for the second year in a row,” said County Commissioner Chairperson Alexander Mirabella. “Despite the pandemic that is persisting this year, our fiscal outlook remains strong. We continue to offer our high-quality governmental services and our commitment to assisting our constituents.”
Commissioner Fiscal Committee Chairperson Christopher Hudak said: “As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, we are mindful of its profound impact on all residents. We worked hard with our county manager and our finance director to build a budget that would fund the response to COVID-19, our safety net and normal services.”
Both Mirabella and Hudak thanked their colleagues on the Fiscal Committee for their work in crafting the budget, including Vice Chairperson Rebecca Williams and County Commissioners Sergio Granados and Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded. They also thanked county manager Ed Oatman and gave special thanks to Finance Director Bibi Taylor and her staff for their effort in bringing the budget all together from start to finish.
Finally, both Mirabella and Hudak thanked Union County’s directors and employees for their tremendous effort in responding to the pandemic this past year.
The 2021 budget provides for the county’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, including the county’s vaccination centers and its online vaccination appointment portal system and call-in center.
The budget also helps fund a partnership with Kean University, in which the county and Kean established a laboratory that is capable of testing residents, processing their samples and gene sequencing for variant strain research — all in coordination with the county’s contact tracing program. This effort is the first of its kind in the nation and will also act as a source of revenue for decades to come.
The budget provides for weekly food distributions — the county has served more than 3.6 million meals — and the distribution of more than 100,000 masks throughout Union County to all 21 municipalities.
This budget also funds the chairperson’s Union County Rising initiatives for 2021, which include public safety improvements, support for businesses, support for the LGBTQ community, upgrades to parks and recreation facilities, and support for recreational programming.