How I would lower taxes
The first thng we would need to do is look more closely at the
capital budget. Capiltal Budget = new debt = new
Almost every year, some of the town's bonds mature in which in turn lowers the amount ofdebt service. In Berkeley Heights, what typically happens is that the Council looks at the maturity of these bonds as an opportunity to write additional debt.
The residents are used to paying these payments so it can basically go unnoticed. In reality each maturity is an opportunity for a reduction in taxes.
When elected I would lower capital spending and not re-up on all maturing debt. The town's debt should be taken seriously.
For the record, this year the Town Council doubled capital Spending. They said yes to every single line item that was asked for by any departent. They did all of this on top of the massive debt grab for the municipal building.
In addtion to being more strategic with the capital spending, I would also not increase headcount at every turn. This year there was extra budget and rather than provide some tax relief the town hired two new employees. Maybe this was warranted, but maybe we could have used that opportunity, especially in a year with so much debt to provide a bit of tax relief.
Also in the years where I looked at the budget, revenues for the town are understated and expenditures overstated, to the point that it was clear they were over budgeting. My thought with budgeting: If there is extra money, it will be spent.
I would push for much tighter budgeting with proper estimations for revenues and expenses.
I also would not vote to pass the ordinance to extend the Appropriations Cap Bank to 3.5%. Why does our town continuously need to go beyon the max recommended amount to the point it needs to pass an ordinance to extend its spending limits? They shouldnt.
Jeanne Kingsley and the current town council have stated in public meetings that the ordinance to raise the cap bank was "state mandated" and that they have never used it and would only use it in a catastrophe so catastrophic that it hasnt happened yet. When Jeanne was challenged about the state mandate, she took back her statements.
However, town documents clearly show that Berkeley Heights does use the cap bank more years than not. This leads me to the believe that Jeanne and the Council do not fully understand what they are passing nor pay attention to how the money they were elected to manage is spent.
I would certainly take a very close look at any budget and/or meaningful expenditures and make sure that a significant portion of the town are getting the value from that spending.
I clearly see ways to cut the budget 5%-10%. Tax cuts are possible, they just require work. I am willing to put in that extra time.