Today, we are introducing the 2021 Cape May County Budget. As in other years, and in keeping with our promise to be fiscally responsible, this budget includes a spending plan that provides needed services to our citizens during a very difficult time. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. The loss of loved ones from this pandemic lays heavy in our hearts and minds. The grief felt by so many of our families, friends and neighbors is shared by us all, as we mourn the passing of each soul lost to this virus.
It was not easy to get to this point. After many hours of deliberation, we are presenting a sound spending plan that will support the future needs of Cape May County.
Never in our history have we been faced with a situation such as we are experiencing today. Never has the safety, health and well-being of our residents been more significant. Never have the needs of our families been more crucial and never has the support of our local businesses been more critical.
This budget provides core services and infrastructure improvements as well as public safety and health and human services to meet the needs of our residents and attempt to address the uncertainty that faces us all.
The Administrator, County Treasurer, and the Budget Committee have worked diligently to ensure services to our residents are adequately provided with room for growth as we move forward.
The 2021 budget reflects the Board’s continued conservative fiscal policies that have served this County well and have allowed us to maintain a strong financial rating. Be assured that our job does not end with the adoption of this budget. We carefully monitor spending throughout the year and adjust to changes in priorities and programs.
The total budget for 2021 is $181 million dollars. The tax rate for 2021 is projected to be .2374, representing an increase of one penny more in the rate than 2020. For every $100,000 of assessed value for a property owner, the budget will require another $10. The tax levy to support the budget is $136.6 million.
This increase will enable the County to maintain essential services as well as fund Capital Improvement projects that include county roads, bridges, zoo exhibits and buildings. Additionally, there is $1 million dollars included in the 2021 budget for Covid-19 related expenses, including operation of the vaccination clinics which will provide the resources necessary to vaccinate every willing resident in Cape May County.
Operational expenses throughout most County departments were restricted to 2020 funding levels and did not increase year over year. Additionally, the 2021 budget has less full-time and seasonal employees than the 2020 budget.
Cape May County is moving forward in addressing local and national issues that are impacting our residents. Our families are hurting, and we must all work together to combat the spread of the coronavirus while vaccinating all of those willing, and to continue to work to provide the services our residents have been accustomed to receiving.
County Commons, the former K-Mart Plaza in Middle Township, is a unique redevelopment project that is garnering national attention. In a little over one year, a large part of the complex is open with the Veterans' clinic in full operation providing state-of-the-art medical services for our Veterans. Tractor Supply, a new business to the County, opened in late summer, and doing very well.
Social Services, Department of Aging and Veterans Affairs will be moving to County Commons in the next 30-45 days and residents will have access to these services in one convenient and accessible location. The One Stop Career Center and the Division of Workforce Development are open at their new location at County Commons. This multi-use complex will house government offices and private sector businesses and will have a tremendous impact on Cape May County. County Commons will provide year-round jobs and a safe and vibrant gathering place for families.
Improvements at the Cape May County Airport are ongoing and will further serve to diversify and create year-round jobs in aviation and technology. We will continue to support our economy with programs that serve to create and retain jobs in tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and recreation.