‘There’s a lot of work still ahead’

Mercer County Executive Dan Benson highlights first 100 days

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It has been 100 days since Mercer County Executive Dan Benson was sworn into office on Jan. 1.

“When we took office, the county faced considerable challenges,” Benson said. “The 2022 county audit wasn’t complete, several key financial statements needed corrections, and a key county bond was near its expiration.

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“In our first 100 days, we have put Mercer County on stable footing. We have an experienced team that has restored competence and professionalism to Mercer County government.”

When Benson came into office, he hired a qualified and experienced staff, led by Christopher Marion as county administrator, Sharon Shinkle Gardner as chief of staff, Taraun Tice McKnight and Ana Montero as deputy administrators, and Nick Trasente as chief financial officer. In the first 50 days, this team reorganized Mercer County government, making the following changes:

  • Marion will oversee Buildings & Grounds, Corrections, Trenton-Mercer Airport, the Mercer County Library System, and the Joint Insurance Fund,
  • Tice McKnight will oversee Human Services, Mercer County Office of Training and Employment Services (One-Stop Career Center), Housing, and Veterans Affairs, and
  • Montero will oversee a new joint department of Public Health and Safety, including the Office of Emergency Management and Emergency Communications

“While working to fix the county’s finances, we have also laid the foundation for the work ahead,” Benson said. “We’ve improved accessibility, fostered greater collaboration with our municipalities, increased transparency to public contracting, modernized our County Code, and ensured our administration is both diverse and transparent.”

Highlights of the Benson administration’s first 100 days in office include:

  • Completed the long overdue 2022 Mercer County Audit;
  • Shared updates on IRS (Internal Revenue Service) penalties incurred from the last administration with the Board of Commissioners;
  • Drafted initial revisions to the Mercer County Code, the first set of revisions in over 10 years;
  • Completed an April 4th bond note sale rolling over the $150-plus million sale from the last administration, at a lower interest rate, while maintaining our bond rating;
  • Worked with our new CFO and financial consultants to recreate and identify missing or incorrect county financial documents;
  • Obtained a $70,000 grant to install hearing induction loops to assist the deaf and hard-of-hearing at select county facilities;
  • Launched a new round of zero-interest loans for local small businesses;
  • Provided funding to help Hamilton Township buy and preserve Kuser Woods;
  • Completed a comprehensive After Action Review of Mercer County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Appointed a diverse group of Mercer residents to numerous Boards and Commissions.

Benson added, “There’s a lot of work still ahead, but we are committed to making sure Mercer County government works for everyone. We will do whatever it takes to make that pledge a reality.”

  • Hiring a new Office of Emergency management director;
  • Establishing a Division of Tourism & Travel in Economic Development;
  • Creating a Mercer County Office of LGBTQIA+ Services within Human Services;
  • Breaking ground on the Trenton-Mercer Airport Firehouse (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting facility);
  • Preparing the 2024 Mercer County Budget for adoption;
  • Auditing Mercer County Information Technology Systems;
  • Installing Wi-Fi at Trenton-Mercer Airport;
  • Completing an audit of Mercer County Parks System;
  • Conducting a Corrections Facility Assessment; and
  • Hosting Bi-Annual Legislative Delegation meetings to discuss Mercer County’s priorities.

“I am excited for the future of Mercer County and for our next 100 days and beyond,” said County Executive Benson. “Collaboration, transparency, and professionalism are cornerstones of our administration, and we are dedicated to keeping our community informed about our continued progress.”

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