COUNTY OF MIDDLESEX, NEW JERSEY
GENERAL AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION
The County of Middlesex, State of New Jersey (“County”) was one of the first four counties into which the Province of East Jersey was divided by an Act of the Assembly in 1682. Located in central northeastern New Jersey astride the major transportation corridor, the County is accessible to New York City and Philadelphia.
A seven (7) member Board of Chosen Freeholders (“Board of Chosen Freeholders” or “Board”), elected for staggered terms of three (3) years, governs the County. The Board of Chosen Freeholders operates under the commission form on a committee system. Professional department heads in County government are appointed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders and are responsible to the chairman and the committee charged with the specific operation. The County follows the Civil Service merit system of employment and the Board of Chosen Freeholders abides by the regulations of the State Merit System Board.
The County also established an Office of Central Administration under the direction of a County Administrator. The County Administrator, who reports directly to the Board of Chosen Freeholders on matters of policy, is responsible for overseeing and carrying out the daily administrative functions of the County and has jurisdiction over County departments and officers, including management information, insurance, personnel, purchasing, storage, mail and reprographics, except for those duties imposed pursuant to State of New Jersey (“State”) statutes and/or regulations.
Health and Hospitals. Middlesex County provides certain medical, health and extended care services to residents through the Raritan Bay Mental Health Center, numerous public health clinics and the extended care facility at Roosevelt Care Center in Edison. Roosevelt Care Center, having originally been designed as a tuberculosis sanitarium with an emphasis on isolation, has been impossible to operate as a skilled-nursing facility with an efficient staff-to-resident ratio, resulting in operating deficits of over $10 million dollars annually.
In order to address the significant operating inefficiencies at the existing facility, the Board of Chosen Freeholders authorized in 2001 construction of a 180-bed, state of-the-art, long-term care facility on the site of the former Roosevelt Care Center Annex. Today the new facility operates efficiently: Operating subsidies have been reduced.
As some residents are still housed in the original building, Roosevelt Care Center continues to face operating inefficiencies. As a result, County subsidies still remain excessive. To eliminate this remaining problem, the Board of Chosen Freeholders authorized in 2007 a study to begin construction on a second 180-bed, state-of-the-art extended-care facility. It would be built on Marlboro Road in Old Bridge Township. Funding for this project was finalized in early 2009.
It is expected that both 180-bed facilities will be able to operate with staffing costs that are significantly lower than those required by the original building. In addition, the Old Bridge facility will become a LEED certified silver facility that utilizes state-of-the-art technology that will reduce its overall day-to-day operational costs.
The construction of these facilities and the operating efficiencies presently being implemented are intended to bring the cost of operating the long-term care facilities under control while continuing to offer the highest level of care to County residents.
Education. The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School System is acclaimed as one of the finest in the nation. The system provides pre-employment training in approximately 52 vocational and technical skilled areas to high school and adult students. Approximately 9,680 full and part-time students are served annually. The system, serving industry and labor, contributes greatly to the industrial growth and stability of the County. The mission statement of the County Vocational and Technical Schools is: “To prepare students for employment in the competitive labor force and for life-long learning by providing a program that stresses the expectation that all students achive the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards (NJCCS) at all grade levels; work ethic; technology; industry driven occupational skills competency; broadly transferable academic thinking, problem solving and communication skills; diversity and equity behavior; and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”
Middlesex County College, established by the Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1964, has an enrollment of more than 12,000 students. The college prepares students for transfer to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. The College also offers carrer programs in which graduates directly enter the workplace. The institution has a tremendous positive effect on the local economy. Rutgers, the State University, including Douglass College, Cook College, Livingston College and Rutgers College are located within the County, as are the University of Medicine and Dentistry, Princeton University – Forestall Campus and DeVry University College of Technology.
Parks and Recreation. Nineteen County parks totaling 6,670 acres provide recreational and cultural activities for the general public throughout the year. Extensive facilities for summer sports, winter sports, theater and concert programs offer opportunities for enjoyment to County residents. In addition, three (3) golf facilities are operated and leased or owned by the Middlesex County Improvement Authority (MCIA): Tamarack Golf Course (36 holes); The Meadows at Middlesex (18 holes); and Raritan Landing Golf Course (9 hole executive course). The County has been investing in parks and recreation to add to its long-term livability and its socioeconomic stability. The Open Space Recreation and Farmland and Historic Preservation Trust Fund was established in 1996. Through this fund, the County has acquired over 7,000 acres of open space either directly by the County or in partnership with its municipalities. This Trust Fund has also been used to develop County and municipal recreational facilities through a grant program focusing on development and redevelopment of municipal parks.
The County is currently pursuing an active program of facility improvements in existing parks and has most recently focused on the development of new parks and public access to the Raritan Bay waterfront.
Old Bridge Waterfront Park which encompasses 3.5 miles of shoreline and the award winning Raritan Bay Waterfront Park in Sayreville/South Amboy are key components. The County has completed major renovations of Donaldson Park in the Borough of Highland Park and is in the process of making major improvements to Johnson Park in Piscataway Township. An active 25 acre park on the border of North Brunswick Township and the Borough of Milltown is being constructed and the Middlesex County Greenway running through Woodbridge, Metuchen and Edison is nearing construction. The County also has an active farmland preservation program. The total purchase of development easements through 2009 has brought the County’s preserved farmland to almost 5,000 acres.
Transportation – Middlesex County is one of the most heavily traveled regions in New Jersey. Located at the crossroads of the Northeast Corridor, the County is traversed by the NJ Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, Interstate 287 and U.S. Routes 1, 9 and 130. There also are other major State routes, including Routes 18, 27, 28, 34 and 35. The Northeast Corridor rail line provides both Amtrak and N.J. Transit commuter rail service (five stops within the County), and there also is regular NJ Transit service on both the North Jersey Coast Line (four stops within Middlesex County) and the Raritan Valley line which has a stop in Dunellen. Commuter bus service is available along parts of Routes 1, 9, 18, 27, 130, the Garden State Parkway and some secondary roads, and includes regular service to New York. Local bus service to various parts of the county is also available. Funding for this extensive transportation system comes from federal, State, County, local and private sources. The New Brunswick-Piscataway corridor also is served by the Rutgers University inter-campus bus system, which carries over six million passengers per year.
Funding sources include Federal Highway Administration funding for eligible roads and bridges, and State aid funds, through the New Jersey Department of Transportation, for State, County and eligible municipal roads. Funding is also available through local capital improvement programs for County and municipal roads. The Federal Transit Administration and New Jersey Transit provide funding for public transit systems. Funding by private industry for transportation improvements is also possible when private development impacts on transportation facilities. The County’s transportation management association, Keep Middlesex Moving, Inc., works to reduce traffic demand on existing roads through various management strategies, such as car and van pooling, ride-matching and staggered hours, compressed work schedules and telecommuting. Pedestrian and bicycle mobility service for transportation and recreation needs are available in certain areas and are being expanded through State, County and municipal initiatives. The County’s Department of Transportation operates an area wide transit service for citizens. The County Department of Transportation also coordinates transit services between municipalities and major job and activity centers and provides various fixed bus services that supplement the NJ Transit bus services.
The County has been a leader in new construction for many years. This growth has been a contributing factor in more than tripling the County’s tax base between 1980 and 2000. According to the December 2009 issue of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Construction Reporter shows that the County, with $1,403,705,150 in the total Dollar Amount of Construction Authorized by Building Permits, was first of the 21 counties in the State overall, tenth in Residential Construction Authorized by Building Permits with $115,731,008 and first in the Nonresidential Construction Authorized by Building Permits with $681,960,644. The same report shows the County fifth in Office Square Feet Authorized by Building Permits (255,764 sq. ft.), third in Residential Construction Authorized by Building Permits (932 units) and second in Retail Square Feet Authorized by Building Permits (287,578 sq. ft.). For the 16-year period, from 1985 to 2000, County averaged 3,149
residential building permits per year. In addition, the Sitar-Rutgers Regional Report lists existing rental office space at 29,564,941 square feet in the County as of December 31, 2008. Sales & Marketing Management
Magazine (2006) lists the County’s 2004 median effective buying income per household at $52,611. The State’s median household effective buying income was $48,302 in 2004. The median household effective buying income for the United States was $38,201 for 2004.
Those County employees who are eligible for pension coverage are enrolled in the State of New Jersey pension system. The two State-administered pension funds are the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (N.J.S.A. §43:16A-1 et. seq.) and the Public Employees’ Retirement System (N.J.S.A.§43:15A-7 et. seq.). Benefits, contributions, means of funding and the manner of administration are determined by State Legislation. The Division of Pensions within the Treasury Department of the State of New Jersey is the administrator of the funds.
This Division annually charges counties and other government units for their respective contributions. State law requires that these systems be subject to actuarial valuation every year and actuarial investigation every three (3) years.
The County provides services through approximately 2,100 employees. County employees are represented by twenty-four (24) labor organizations recognized by the County under the Public Employees Relations Act of 1968 (P.E.R.C.). All labor unions, except for PBA unions, (consisting of 502 employees), Fire Fighters Local 3451 (16 employees), part-time Fire Fighters Local 3527 (54 employees), AFSCME locals 3256, 3460 and 3481 (245 employees) CWA local 1082 (35 employees), Park Rangers (18 employees) have contracts until December 31, 2012. Labor contract with unions that are unsettled expired on December 31, 2008. All unions with expired contracts are currently in negotiations with the County for new contracts. The County considers relations with its unions to be good.
As at December 31, 2009
- March 18 -
The Board of Chosen Freeholders finally adopted an ordinance amending and restating an ordinance of the County entitled “An ordinance of the County of Middlesex, State of New Jersey approving and authorizing the entering into, execution and delivery of a lease and agreement with the Middlesex County Improvement Authority relating to the issuance of Youth Detention Center lease revenue bonds, Series 1996 of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, and authorizing a public hearing to be held August 15, 1996 at 7:00 P.M. and authorizing publication thereof” to approve and authorize the entering into, execution and delivery of an amendment to lease agreement with the Middlesex County Improvement Authority (the “Authority”) for the refunding of the Authority’s Youth Detention Center Lease revenue bonds, Series 1997 through the issuance of youth detention center lease revenue refunding bonds, Series 2010 of the Middlesex County Improvement Authority
- April 19 -
The Board of Chosen Freeholders finally adopted a Bond Ordinance providing for the acquisition of capital equipment and the undertaking of various 2010 capital improvements at and for facilities of Middlesex County College, appropriating $2,000,000 therefor and authorizing the issuance of $2,000,000 bonds or notes of the County for financing such appropriation.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders finally adopted a Bond Ordinance providing for the undertaking of 2010 capital improvements at and for certain facilities of Middlesex County College, appropriating $3,000,000 therefore and authorizing the issuance of $3,000,000 bonds or notes of the County of Middlesex, State of New Jersey, for financing such appropriation, the principal of and interest on the aggregate principal amount of which will be entitled to state aid, pursuant to Chapter 12 of the laws of the New Jersey of 1971.
- April 29 -
The County’s 2010 budget was adopted.
- May 6 -
The Board of Chosen Freeholders finally adopted a Bond Ordinance providing for 2010 general capital improvements and the acquisition of equipment for the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High Schools, appropriating $3,100,000 therefor and authorizing the issuance of $3,100,000 bonds or notes of the County for financing such appropriation.
- May 20 -
The Board of Chosen Freeholders finally adopted a Bond Ordinance providing for the 2010 general capital improvements, by and in the County appropriating $45,481,390 therefor and authorizing the issuance of $43,315,584 bonds and notes of the County for financing such appropriation.
- June 9 -
The County closed on its $53,453,000 General Obligation Bond sale that permanently financed capital improvements and equipment in and for the County and improvements and equipment for the County Vocational-Technical schools and County College. The General Obligation Bonds are dated June 1, 2010 and consist of $41,000,000 General Improvements bonds, $6,100,000 County Vocational-Technical Schools Bonds, $4,000,000 County College Bonds and $2,353,000 County College Chapter 12 Bonds. The County also closed on $3,390,000 Bond Anticipation Note that temporarily financed the loan to the Sayreville Economic Redevelopment Agency relating to the acquisition of property commonly known as the National Lead Site within the Borough of Sayreville. The note is dated June 9, 2010 and will mature on June 8, 2011.