SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ - The Scotch Plains Republican Committee’s second annual Geri Smith Scotch Plains Republican Spring Conference at the Scotch Hills Country Club last week provided an opportunity for town residents to mix and mingle with Mickey Marcus, Llewellyn Jones and Bo Vastine, the three councilmen running for re-election in November.
The councilmen spoke on a number of issues on the local front, preceding a panel discussion with Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) and Dr. Alieta Eck, who will be running for Congress to replace the incumbent Rep. Rush Holt, as the member of the House from the 12th District.
Marcus thanked the Republican Party for motivating him to seek another term. “One of our most important, if not the most important goal is to keep Scotch Plains affordable,” he said, noting the allocation of tax dollars that go to the school system (63 percent), county (20 percent) and the town (17 percent).
Llewellyn Jones discussed the 2 percent interest arbitration cap, a state law that helps prevent property tax increases from exceeding 2 percent annually. A key component of the law capping salary increases at 2%, signed by Gov. Christie in 2010, expired on April 1. “It was like a bad April Fool’s joke,” Jones quipped.
In a separate phone interview with The Alternative Press, Jones explained how this could impact the Scotch Plains community specifically. “There are a few contracts and negotiations coming up,” said Jones, referring to the town’s Department of Public Works and Police Department. “The two percent cap, for us is a backstop in the negotiations. If this law is not renewed, then there is no cap on contracts and negotiations and it would then be brought to an arbitrator to decide.”
If a town’s proposed property tax were to exceed 2 percent, a voter referendum would be issued to the community on a voting ballot to accept the tax increase or result in the cut of other services. Gov. Christie needs Democrats, who control the New Jersey Assembly, to schedule a vote to restore the cap.
Councilman Bo Vastine rounded out the discussion by addressing the challenges of preserving and honoring the Shady Rest Country Club and offered an update on the process. The architect’s report will be issued to the township manager within the next week, according to Vastine. Once the report arrives, a discussion will be planned at a future council meeting, according to Jerry Giaimis, township manager of Scotch Plains.
“We all have to take responsibility now for the condition of the building,” said Vastine.
Rep. Lance and Dr. Alieta Eck then led a discussion the Affordable Healthcare Act.
The "Geri Smith Annual Republican Spring Conference" is named for the late Scotch Plains Republican Committeewoman who displayed great courage, fortitude, and inspiration in her 22-year battle with breast cancer.
“Geri was instrumental in establishing the Spring Conference last year and the Scotch Plains Republican Committee this year, which is why we renamed the event to honor her,” said Al Smith, chairman of the Scotch Plains Republican Committee, who hosted the event. “The purposes of the event are to raise money for local Republican candidates, offer programs of interest to the community, and provide an opportunity Republicans to socialize.”
The event, which drew approximately 75 people and raised $12,000, up from the $7,000 raised last year.