Fiscal responsibility: The 2021 county budget represents a decrease of 1.9 percent or $2.2 million from the adopted 2020 budget, the lowest tax levy increase in six years and the third-lowest tax levy increases over the past 15 years. All financial decisions must be carefully considered in the context of the county’s long-term fiscal health, especially during the pandemic. The 2021 budget maintains capital improvement funding, and continues debt service funding. The county has not wavered from our 10-year debt reduction plan, first instituted in 2020, even in the face of crippling underfunding from the Murphy administration. With the receipt of $27 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding, we must support county businesses that were decimated by Murphy’s arbitrary executive orders, to fairly compensate our county workers who persisted tirelessly through the throes of the pandemic and beyond, and to ensure all county departments are well-equipped and prepared to deliver high levels of critical services to our residents.
Service upgrades: We continue to support health services for women, for children, and for the economically disadvantaged, including no-cost health screenings, clinics, and no-cost testing and vaccination options for all residents. We have strengthened health and social services by expanding medical transportation for senior citizens, enhancing mosquito control capabilities, implementing new community outreach programs, expanding fire prevention services, enhancing countywide emergency communication capabilities, supporting law enforcement, and providing agro-tourism programs alongside the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce to bring consumers to the county. Additional funding directed towards the Division of Health and Human Services for additional personnel and programs must be a critical focus to support both mental health and addiction recovery programs. Effective programs that are directly tailored to community needs are paramount to our health and well-being.
Strategic investments: We have prioritized infrastructure via road resurfacing and bridge and traffic safety projects, with more than 34 miles of new guide rail to enhance safety on county roads, dedicating resources to improve road crew staffing levels, and bridge replacements and improvements. The voters directly supported the partially grant-funded Dennis Library renovations, and that project will now launch, along with improvements to the Technical School building, enhancing safety and security for the county college and county facilities, and a storage facility for emergency management equipment. Growth that prioritizes safety and critical services must remain the focus.
Our overarching focus must be keeping Sussex County safe, affordable, and moving forward. We must continue to demand fair funding and accountability from the Murphy Administration, working in coordination with our excellent D24 Legislators to ensure we meet our obligations to the good people of Sussex County.