The residents of Roselle are in for a rude awakening when the Democratic town council along with the BOE finally lowers the boom on the taxpayer’s wallets. Ground has already been broken for former Mayor Jamel Holley’s early learning and community center, the $50 million “Mind and Body Complex”. The proposed complex is the largest project that the UC Improvement Authority has ever approved for any municipality. On 4 acres the 100,000 sq. ft facility will be home to a gym, recording studio, computer labs, state of the art digital library and eight lane indoor pool as well as 20 classrooms for kindergarten and Pre-K and community rooms. Any town in Union County would be thrilled to have a complex of this nature within its borders. However, I imagine most would say “We cannot afford this!” and truth be told neither can the Borough of Roselle.
Roselle has only 23,000 residents and according to the State of NJ, the average median income is $43,122 per year. Of that amount, 22% goes to pay property taxes with the average bill coming in at $9,531. An analysis by NJ Advance Media ranking of towns with the worst ratio of taxes to income ranked Roselle the 6th worst in the state. The final tax impact is not in yet as it has been changing constantly since the proposal in 2013 when it was an increase to the average bill of $150 on a home assessed at $118,400. In 2015 it was estimated at $253, in 2016 at $312 and current rumblings have it now closing in on the $500 mark. One has to consider other increases to the borough budget as well in areas of contract obligations, insurance premiums, and other unforeseen calamities which could beset the borough in their daily operations. The tax impact on the residents is unconscionable and not only the council but the Union County Improvement Authority members should all be ashamed of themselves. This is a community that in the last eight years has seen 1,648 homes in foreclosure including 300 having been abandoned by their owners.
Sadly, when this comes to fruition the borough will not even own the facility as the County has more borrowing power and a better credit rating thus providing lower rates than the borough would be able to obtain on their own. The borough along with the Board of Education will be making lease payments equal to debt service on the bonds under a lease agreement. Simply, the town will be leasing the facility from its actual owner, the Improvement Authority, to the tune of $700,000 a year for a period of 30 years. Roselle is also looking at fees for the deal which according to the Local Finance Board are higher than on other projects, in the neighborhood of $600,000 for bond issuance, etc. The UCIA will also be handling the project management and perhaps they will be employing their favorite vendors to do the job, that is, those who contribute to the County Democratic Committee.
The all Democratic Board of Chosen Freeholders supposedly rides herd over the Improvement Authority appointing the members from among their own ranks, the Director is former Freeholder Dan Sullivan. On April 22, 2015 the players managed to charm and throw themselves on the mercy of the Local Finance Board to gain approval pulling out all of the stops, having read the transcript the only thing lacking appeared to be a violin accompaniment.
The project was approved; the council is happy, the BOE is happy and the UCIA is happy and for now some residents are happy. But the later could change when they see their tax bills at the end of the day. They will be paying thru the nose for something they will not own and what happens if Roselle defaults aren’t all of Union County taxpayers than on the hook? The entire deal is disgraceful and can lead to increased abandonments and foreclosures as the taxpayers are hit with the reality that the Freeholders really do not care about them.
Help put a stop to this nonsense and vote for the GOP Freeholder candidates: Quattrocchi, Martini and Lijoi on November 7th. Visit us on Facebook at Union County GOP Freeholder Candidates and Twitter @Patq9.
Sincerely, Patricia Quattrocchi