Three years ago, when seeking a seat on the Chatham Borough Council, I promised to work to keep the Borough a beacon of limited, efficient and responsive municipal government, one which delivers essential services focused on health, safety, and sound infrastructure investment at the most reasonable cost possible. I also sought to apply my background in municipal and project finance, experience in structuring public-private partnerships, and familiarity with land use matters, to the thoughtful redevelopment of both our southern gateway and central business district areas. I believed then, as I do now, that targeted redevelopment consistent with the Borough’s Master Plan is critical in order to grow our ratable base to fund our priorities, and in doing so relieve pressure on residential property taxes.

Since my election, I have worked collaboratively with my Council colleagues to deliver on these promises:

  • As Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, I have focused on keeping Chatham Borough a model of prudent fiscal management, as demonstrated by solid fund balances, stable non-tax revenue streams, and a low debt burden relative to neighboring towns. As a result, Chatham Borough continues to enjoy a stellar Aaa credit rating and financial flexibility that towns of our size rarely exhibit, allowing us to borrow at the lowest interest rates possible.
  • Borough property taxes have remained stable, with annual increases coming in well under the 2% cap throughout my term.
  • Annual capital expenditures have stabilized at a level adequate to maintain our infrastructure in sound condition while keeping debt service predictable. We continue to prudently fund the needed replacement and/or upgrade of police, fire, and DPW vehicles, while keeping our roads and sidewalks in good condition.
  • We have made substantial progress on a thoughtful, transparent, and inclusive redevelopment process to address the deteriorating condition of Post Office Plaza in a way that will deliver exciting new residential, retail, and open space uses, along with enhanced parking infrastructure to support existing Main Street businesses and train commuters.
  • As Vice Chair of the Finance and Operating Committee at the Chatham-Madison Joint Meeting (sewer authority), I have worked with colleagues in both towns to develop a plan for a needed expansion of our sewer infrastructure to address both capacity constraints and State environmental mandates, through ensuring a competitive process to deliver maximum value to taxpayers.
  • As liaison to the Chatham Borough Board of Health and member of the Shared Service Committee, I facilitated the transition of our existing shared service contract to the Westfield Health Department, which has provided an enhanced level of public health services to residents at an annual saving to the taxpayer of over $25,000.

As a result, I am seeking another term to build on these achievements and continue the careful stewardship of our town’s redevelopment efforts.

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Ever mindful of the adverse impact that increases in regressive property taxes have on all our residents, but most importantly seniors and those in our community of moderate income, I am a fiscal conservative in both name and practice. I have advocated for getting the best value out of every property tax dollar and opposing tax increases which go beyond what is absolutely necessary to run our town well. I have spoken out against egregious loopholes in tax cap rules, have advocated for an end to Trenton’s game of wealth redistribution away from Chatham, and have challenged our colleagues at the County and School District to extract the best value for every dollar of public funds and to find ways to end reliance on the most regressive and oppressive tax that is driving residents out New Jersey – the property tax.

Given the hostility that Chatham Borough routinely faces from state government in Trenton, innovation will be required to diversify revenues to lessen reliance on property taxes, share services without impacting service quality, and ensuring we continue to spend public funds prudently through maintaining local control of our police and public works departments.

I received my undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from Fordham University. In a career spanning over 30 years, I’ve served as a member of the Public Finance Rating Committee at Moody’s, have underwritten financial guarantees for state and local housing finance agency bonds, and for the past 8 years at Lendlease Communities have sourced debt and equity capital for a $5 billion portfolio of public-private partnership financings for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Military Housing Privatization Initiative, which has improved the quality of life for military service members and their families nationwide. As Zoning Board Chair from 2010 to 2015, I advocated for making the variance process more user-friendly and for targeted liberalization of burdensome zoning restrictions, to allow for capital reinvestment in our aging housing stock. I intend to continue to put this resume to work for all the residents of Chatham Borough.

Chatham is a special place because of the vibrant spirit of its volunteers. Our boards and commissions are filled with dedicated community servants who make Chatham the great town it is. I applaud our volunteers for playing an active role in community affairs; this is the key to keeping municipal government’s role in our lives limited in scope and affordable. I wish to continue my own record of volunteer service by serving another term on the Borough Council

I therefore respectfully ask for your vote on June 5.

Peter Hoffman
Member, Chatham Borough Council