Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Election Day. I want to thank the residents of Chatham Township for their kindness and their support throughout this campaign. Every vote will count in this local election and I urge residents to go to the polls and make sure their voice is heard.
Recently, a letter to the editor, suggested that I will spend taxpayer funds frivolously while my opponent’s record of flat and reduced taxes were evidence of fiscal prudence. I think it’s important for the public to be aware of the facts when they consider this statement. The “General Appropriation” which is more commonly known as the municipal budget expense has actually grown every year since Mr. Sullivan has been in office, from $14 million in 2013 to the $14.5 million budget for the current year.
The flat municipal tax rate, promoted in Mr. Sullivan’s PR campaign, is not the result of effective and sustainable cost-cutting measures, but rather from a windfall of construction fees and increased property tax assessments from knock down and larger rebuilds. The surplus generated by construction-driven windfall last year grew to $4.75 million, the highest it's been in 10 years. The prior year was $3.75 million. Construction windfall is the real driver of the recent flat and reduced tax rates.
Mr. Sullivan has not proposed any real, sustainable cost cutting measures. Real, long term savings will come from effective coordination of resources with neighboring towns, something I am looking forward to pursuing as a Committeewoman for Chatham Township residents.In addition to improved cooperation and collaboration with our neighboring towns, I am interested in pursuing the following on behalf of Chatham residents:
- Right-size the surplus with an eye toward lower taxes while maintaining a healthy balance;
- Review financial and operational processes to see if there are opportunities for efficiency;
- Replenish the Open Space Fund depleted by the Giralda Farms acquisition;
- Join in Chatham Borough’s dialogue regarding the possibility of an additional train stop servicing Chatham Borough, Chatham Township and Summit.
Regarding the last bullet, the topic of a second train station was briefly discussed in a recent Chatham Borough Council meeting. Although this project is in the very early conceptual phase and the land would not be in Chatham Township, it’s important that Chatham Township stay involved to make sure our residents are served by this potential initiative and that detriments like traffic concerns, historic sites, etc., are adequately considered.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I’ll see you at the polls tomorrow!