East Orange Mayoral Candidate John Thompson Challenges Budget Claims
As I start my journey on finding ways to keep my promise of reducing taxes for our community, I found a staggering difference between the 2012 budget and the 2016 budget. Salary increases of 3,684,634.00. Now to some people, that may not seem like a lot, but to a community like ours, this matters!
Increasing salaries in the midst of a recession is out right ethically wrong and narrow minded. How can a government take advantage of its community when cost of living continues to rise and taxes keep going up? The city council salaries went from $49,000 to $67,710 in 2015. This is all public record, so you can find this information online or you can ask them when they’re walking around looking for support for re-election.
The administration mentioned, on more than one occasion, that the previous administration left a deficit. First, it was stated in 2014 the deficit was 3.9 million dollars. Then the Mayor stated the deficit was 10 million dollars at the State Of The City speech. Which is it? Regardless of which information is accurate, financial deficit is an ongoing issue within our city. One of the best ways to hide information from the public is through a municipal budget. Trust me; it’s a lot to look through.
Taxes are created when the municipality hires and gives salary increases to its employees and then expense falls back onto the people of the community. In other words, you and I, the taxpayers, have to “foot the bill” to keep the government salaries afloat. An article written by Milan Kundera fully encapsulates our community’s dilemma. She states, “The struggle of memory against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” We, as a community, cannot afford to forget! We, as a community, cannot afford to share in contributing to the problem any longer by continuing to vote for the same individuals that appear to put their own well-being before ours.
Would you keep rehiring a plumber to fix your pipes if he kept breaking them? So why do we, as a community, keep re-electing unethical and selfish politicians? We need to stop making this mistake every four years. Our habits are hurting the community, and judging by the $3,684,634.00 salary increased, we now have proof that this has been taking place throughout the four years.
I, John Thompson Jr., intend to dispel the notion that property taxes can’t be reduced. A large portion of that money will be used to push taxes down, along with creating programs for our youth and seniors and to prevent some of the unfortunate foreclosures in our community. This will help our community and help us save ourselves.
My administration will be more fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars by giving people within the community more of a voice. Council shouldn’t be allowed to give themselves a pay increase without first consulting the public; put your request for a salary increase up for a vote. New buildings should never have a green light for construction without approval from the community; put your request for new buildings up for a vote. The community is not only unwillingly responsible for paying $3,684,634.00, but there is another hefty tax increase coming in the form of abatements which will continue to hurt our community. East Orange ordinance states that abatements are given with a term of 5 years. Those new buildings will NOT, I repeat, NOT be paying taxes, therefore, the community will have to pay for those services. The community needs to be informed regarding the allotment of their tax dollars and how long WE are going to be paying this debt.
Some will argue that the only way to attract new business is in the form of abatements. I’ll push back on this thinking. I believe, if we can keep our taxes low and redistribute some of the money from the $3,684,634.00 that is currently being kept from the citizens of East Orange, we could attract developers and negotiate a better plan that will actually contribute to the city.
Debt-bonding, also known commonly as taking out loans, to pay for projects like a new golf course, is not economically a good investment if the city is going to have a hard time paying that money back. We as a community need to wake up and stop voting our habits or for a particular party without understanding what we are voting for on the ballot. Because in the end, long after these elected officials have moved on, you and I will be stuck with more financial issues based on their self-centered, not community-centered, decisions. The Democratic Party, LINE A, has created noting but myths of opportunities.
East Orange Deserves better, you deserve better. We need to work together to change the direction of our city otherwise there may not be a community for any of us to call home.
Remember East Orange, vote your conscience and not your habits. You now have $3,684,634.00 reasons to do so.
East Orange Mayoral Candidate
John Thompson Jr.