This letter to the editor was submitted by Garwood Council Candidate Mike Martin.
Governments have a tendency not to solve problems, only to rearrange them. – Ronald Reagan
I am running for Council to get to work for the residents of Garwood and to be a problem solver. Creative ideas, compromise, and follow through are the ways we can make this work.
You may or may not be aware that the Council recently passed an ordinance forcing you to bag your leaves. Not only did your taxes go up this year, but also a service was reduced. The incumbent who claims to vote NO decided to voted YES for this ordinance. He claims to want smaller government. I do not understand how an additional burden placed on you leads to smaller government. Why wasn’t the NO vote used for that ordinance? A NO vote would have maintained your service, maintained your taxes, and would have kept additional government interference out of your life. If I’m elected to Council, I will make a motion to repeal this burdensome ordinance.
In tough economic times, I feel as though it is important that residents and borough employees compromise on salaries. I do not understand how the incumbent singled out the highest paid employee of the town and voted YES on his raise and voted NO on everyone else’s raise. Is it because a borough employee sued the town and the incumbent himself for the employee not receiving a raise when the incumbent was Finance Chair? Is it favoritism? Why wasn’t a NO vote used to be consistent with his other positions on raises? My duty would be to work with others to create compromises to avoid wasting money on litigation and be fair to all our employees and most importantly, have respect for the taxpayers that are facing tough economic times.
I’m confident most of the residents agree we have one of the best DPW’s as shown through trash collection, street plowing, and more. If we already “maxed out the credit card with the Athletic Field Complex” and the debt is so high, why would the incumbent vote for a $220,000 bond for necessary capital items after the Athletic Field passed, yet deny one of our most important service departments a necessary dump truck? Should the town live on life support and have our men work with unsafe vehicles, potentially injuring themselves or others? When he was Finance Chair, the incumbent did not want to buy a much-needed jaws of life or even discuss it with the Council. Just think if your wife or husband, son or daughter, or neighbor needed that piece of equipment? If elected, I will not ignore the service and safety needs of residents and employees.
The Athletic Field Complex has been on the drawing board for 10+ years. The project is underway, but almost a year behind. Since the project is going through, we need someone up there who is going to look out for the taxpayers to make sure there are no cost overruns and make sure the project is completed. I look forward to the day it is finished and we can start generating revenue from the project. It’s ok to not be in favor of the project, but we need to make sure it gets completed and that it stays within the budget. A time the incumbent voted NO was for additional soil testing at the AFC. The rest of the Council voted YES and the big pile of soil that had been sitting for months has been removed. We could likely still be looking at a big mound of soil and/or a lawsuit if everyone voted NO like the incumbent.
Shared service’s is a major topic right now in many towns, including Garwood. The incumbent stated that the Borough is not looking into any shared services. Was he not paying attention at the Council meeting in which the Mayor gave dispatch to the Police Committee to look into and discussions have began at subsequent meetings? This might be the same reason why the incumbent failed to act when he headed a shared services committee and was taken off because he did nothing with it. In addition to dispatch, I would like to look into other areas such as municipal court, Police, DPW, and tree maintenance. Although I support the services provided in this town, many other towns are looking into these shared services and I feel we owe it to the residents to look into these ideas. Until I learn the findings of the studies, I am unsure how I would vote. However, if elected I will push for the studies to be completed, so that the Council, and more importantly the residents, can weigh the financial impact as well as personal impact these changes could mean for residents.
Do you realize $1 of every $5 of your taxes goes to the county? What are we getting for these taxes? The current Council President started a rotating schedule for elected officials to go to the county meetings so we have a voice. I support that plan. Since the rotating schedule, we have received a license plate reader for the police, ladder truck, and a plan to improve the intersection of South Ave. and Center Street. We should continue to push to get Garwood more services from the County. One example would be for much needed tree work. All towns in Union County were hit hard with Irene and Sandy. Many people were without power for a long period of time due to tree damage to the power lines. If elected, I would push the county for more services.
Revaluation is an item that has been talked about for the borough. Does anyone here want to volunteer to pay over $200,000 for the revaluation, pay more in county taxes, and pay more in open space? These are some of the reasons the tax assessor does not recommend a revaluation at this time. The incumbent wants to go against the professional opinion and gamble with your tax bill. Where is the NO vote when you need it?
Do you feel safe in town? Some may not realize, but Garwood has been down an officer for the past two years. One would think we might see higher crime and overtime to skyrocket as a result. This is far from the case. With technological advances and a young and effecient police force, we have been able to maintain the same level of safety (if not more) with one less officer. We need to remember that police officers are very important to a town. Can the town afford another police officer? Yes. However, the Chief is comfortable with the staff he has and has not requested another officer at this time. If elected, I would support hiring another officer if recommended by the Chief.
Thank you for your consideration,
Candidate for Garwood Borough Council