Burlington County commissioners plan ahead for 2022

PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY

During his reorganization address, Dan O’Connell, the newly appointed director of the Burlington County Board of Commissioners, highlighted many of the county’s accomplishments from last year and several of its 2022 initiatives, including the county’s continuing COVID-19 response.

Since the start of the pandemic, the county has distributed millions of items of protective equipment to long-term care facilities and first responders and helped vaccinate and test hundreds of thousands of residents, according to information provided after the Jan. 5 reorganization meeting.

More than $13 million in rental assistance has also been awarded to more than 1,700 county households, along with $295,000 in zero-interest loans to small businesses, according to the statement.

“None of this happens without the dedication and hard work of our county employees, department heads, volunteers and many partners. We owe them all a tremendous debt of gratitude for all that they have done,” O’Connell said in the statement. “Lives have been saved because of all these collective efforts and sacrifices. If this virus has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger when we work together. We must remember that for as long as this crisis continues and beyond.”

O’Connell also highlighted the board’s successful management of county finances without adding to homeowners’ and businesses’ tax burdens.

“Affordability remains one of our main goals. According to the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Burlington County had the lowest average county tax for two years running. And when the 2021 property tax data is released next later this month, we expect we’ll once again be the lowest for the third consecutive year,” he said in the statement.

Economic development and affordability will continue to be focal points in 2022. The commissioners’ plans include organizing another Restaurant Week in August and hosting additional business roundtables to connect existing and would-be business owners with information and resources, according to the statement.

O’Connell also announced plans for the county to host a Made in Burlington County Day for local artists, chefs and other small business owners to market and sell their products.

“We all know that Burlington County is a special place that we want to continue to improve. We have incredible resources such as our county college and library system, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the Pinelands Reserve to name just a few,” O’Connell said in the statement. “But our most important resource continues to be our people. We have an incredible community with neighbors who have shown just how strong Burlington County can be by stepping up when we have needed them the most. I’m proud to be a Burlington County resident and hope you are too.

“Thank you for allowing us the privilege to represent you and the honor to serve you all. Let’s make 2022 a year we can all celebrate and look back on fondly.”