BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Each week leading to the June 6 Primary election, the Republican candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Republican candidate Jeanne Kingsley for Week 2.

Week 2 Question: The Township's tax split shows the Township's piece of the total tax levy is 17.64%, the School makes up 55.67%, County 25.15% and the Library 1.54%. 

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The 2017 Total Municipal Budget is $19,127,717 (according to documents supplied by Township CFO Mike Marceau), of which, $18,804,142 is fixed expenditures.This leaves $323,575, or 1.69%, of the total budget for variable spending.

What, if anything, would you cut or do to make a meaningful dent in the property bill to run the municipality? 

Like you, I am a taxpayer. As a CPA with a finance background, I am often referred to as a "numbers" person. More importantly, I consider myself a "people person" because I understand how the realities of everyday math affect real people and their everyday needs. As a result, I carry a sharp pencil and diligently review our town's budgets, revenues and expenditures with a keen sense of responsibility, balance and fiscal prudence. And as a trained strategic planner, I try to evaluate our issues not just in the context of what is happening today -- but also through a lens focused squarely on our future.

With 98% of the town's budget representing fixed costs, it is essential that we continually strive to find ways to provide services efficiently. Our rolling 5 year capital plan has been a vital part of achieving this goal. Toward this end, we have implemented a road repair plan which is AHEAD of schedule, obtained grants through the Union County Infrastructure program; launched a 'Safe Routes to Schools' effort to obtain funding for improved sidewalks and bike paths; and increased shared services and equipment usage through collaboration with the Board of Ed and Union County. These are just a few of the recent initiatives which have resulted in significant cost savings for our town. We are also laser focused on improving our sports fields by aggressively applying for all available grants similar to our successful efforts to renovate our parks and playgrounds. In addition, our Public/Private Partnerships have brought new funding and program opportunities to the town such as the Winter Walk and Street Fair. These efforts improve our community while sparing the taxpayer.

Taxes are the largest revenue that any town has and we continue to seek new and alternative revenue sources. Embassy Suites, opening in 2017, will generate a substantial hotel tax, which will immediately impact the tax levy. New projects at the former Kings and Movie Theatre properties and Hamilton Avenue will also have very positive tax impacts. Additionally, we continue to review fees and licenses for increased revenue potential. 

We are a GREAT community. Together we know the value that strong programs and services provide for all our citizens--from our youngest to our most experienced seniors. Accordingly, our response should never be eliminate services. Our response must always be to work together to find new ways to keep improving.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in the answer are the candidate's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the candidate.