The Democrat-led Somerset County Freeholder Board today approved the 2020 budget including a tax rate reduction of 1.31%, fulfilling the promises of Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson, Deputy Director Sara Sooy, and Freeholder Melonie Marano to be fiscally conservative while providing top-level services.
“The reality is Democrats are not only socially progressive, but also the fiscally responsible party, and this budget that reduces the county property tax rate proves that true locally,” said Somerset County Democratic Chair Peg Schaffer. “During COVID-19, we are seeing strong Democratic leadership from Freeholder Director Robinson and her team that ensures residents who are hurting have the services they need at a price we can all afford.”
Democrats have a history of keeping their campaign promises in Somerset County. In 2017 then-candidate Steve Peter promised to open up access to the Clerk’s office by having mobile office hours in the communities it serves instead of requiring residents to come to Somerville. Despite pushback from the former leadership, Clerk Peter kept his promise and has held multiple mobile offices serving hundreds of families who could not get to Somerville during regular hours. The mobile office is so popular that multiple municipalities – Republican and Democratic -- have requested it for 2020.
In 2018, candidates Robinson and Sooy promised to increase public access to the Freeholder board by broadcasting meetings on the Internet and holding some meetings in the evening to allow working residents to attend. Both promises were implemented in their first year on the Freeholder board, and as a result, Somerset County’s residents have a greater voice in their government.
Earlier this year Freeholders Robinson, Sooy, and Marano fulfilled their campaign promise to open up the appointment process by implementing an online process for any resident to apply for membership in the committees and commissions serving the people of Somerset County, and ensure resumes and letters of interest are available to all members of the Freeholder Board prior to any vote.
“When Somerset County Democrats make promises on the county campaign trail, they always work to keep them after they take office,” said Schaffer. “The past three years are proof that Democrats will not only work to keep their promises but that they will in fact keep them.”