I really love Berkeley Heights for its small town feel, quality schools, and closeness to New York, beaches, and parks. It’s the place that I have chosen to raise my child. I bought a house here and have my roots grounded. My son is 10 years old and in the 4th grade and I plan to be here for quite some time to come. This is where we have our friends and family and it is our home.
However, as a fiscal conservative, I am increasingly concerned about taxes. Over the last several years it feels like our taxes have risen significantly and rather than see this slow down, I have seen it speed up. I would have perhaps understood if along with the increasing taxes, we got new or improved services, but we haven’t. Quite frankly, as we all can see (and feel with every bump) even basic services like safe roads seem to be but a thing of the past.
The continued year over year increase in taxes was what really drew my interest as to what has been going on in town, and then I started noticing other things as well. For example, do we really need a $28,000,000.00 municipal complex? For a small town such as ours?
Did other towns spend such a large amount of money? No, they did not. Yes, we need a new building but not one so costly, and we shouldn't have been cut out of the decision-making process. Elected officials are supposed to represent their constituents, to listen to their needs and wants. Most residents I have spoken to feel that this is way more expensive than it should be considering what other towns have spent...and what makes it even worse is knowing that the town council/mayor spent hundreds of thousands of our taxpayer dollars to avoid giving us a choice to vote if we wanted to spend $28,000,000.00 on a new municipal complex.
As for the other redevelopment happening in town, it seems that the town council simultaneously loves the direction we are going in and then says we are forced to do this. Which is it? Do we love the direction or are we forced? Why can’t we even get a straight answer? For me, it is difficult to think of a reason why any of this is good for the town.
When things are published by the Council and Mayor, important facts seem to be left out. Did you know that the tax breaks that the council is handing out to some of the new developments come mostly at the expense of the schools with Zero Dollars (Yes...Zero Dollars) going to the school district? And this may last for up to 30 years.
What I realized is that more residents need to get involved with the town. There seems to be a small group that runs everything, including the council and planning board. I watch the council meetings regularly and it seems that most of the decisions have been made prior to the meetings and not much is really openly discussed. Most recently I saw that the newest Town Council member was ostracized and ridiculed by some for voting “No” to the budget. This does not seem appropriate.
We are all affected by the decisions of the council. Most residents in town agree that we don’t want to pay for continuously increasing taxes and a government that ignores the residents, provides inferior services, and isn’t transparent in their decision-making process.
I am offering a positive alternative.
I believe along with Christopher Rinaldi we are the best selection for Berkeley Heights Township Council and we ask for your support on June 5th in the Republican Primary. We are located in Column D, “Respect The Taxpayers” on the Maciejewski, Rinaldi and Mara ticket. Please vote. Thank you.