To the Editor:
 

It’s unfortunate TAPInto Flemington is choosing to use inflammatory language and is failing to confirm assertions by Councilman Harris in articles regarding the removal of the blue line on Main Street.  Calling the disagreement over the blue line “unrest” reflects bias and projection on the part of the reporting. It may be an ongoing saga on social media, but only one resident has spoken at the past two council meetings supporting the line, and one has spoken against it. I would hardly call two comments on the record “unrest”. 

Facts first: 

Sign Up for Flemington/Raritan Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Mr. Harris claims the cost to remove the blue line was three times what line striping usually costs. He uses this false statement to criticize the removal of the line being done on a Saturday morning. 

The cost the Borough paid for the re-striping of Main Street this month is the same cost per linear foot paid for other road striping in the Borough.  When Stangl Road had new double yellow striping put down last year at the request of business owners located there, it cost $0.75 per linear foot. That is the same amount paid for the repainting of the double yellow line on Main Street.

The cost to over-paint the illegal blue line was $0.60 per linear foot There was 1,553 linear feet of blue line on Main Street and the cost to over-paint this was $931.80. This is a small amount to pay to correct an illegal road marking and also tell visitors we are a town that welcomes everyone of every creed and color, and they don’t need to cross a line to live here or visit.

Mr. Harris further states that the money was spent outside normal procedure. 

Again, this is a lie on his part. Mr. Harris is either intentionally lying to residents to score cheap political points or after two and a half years on council, he still fails to understand how municipal budgeting works. I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter is the case since Mr. Harris has not bothered to take the time to actually educate himself, via the many opportunities to do so, on this important part of being an elected official.

When an annual budget is adopted, anticipated expenditures are considered and, if deemed necessary, included in the budget. These are called appropriations. Once money is appropriated, no further action on the part of council is necessary unless it is expenditure outside or in excess of the appropriated budget, with only a few minor exceptions. Road maintenance and striping is an item in the road budget. It’s part of the budget just like road salt, snow removal, pothole repair, and other road items, planned and not planned.  When Stangl Road was re-striped in 2019, Mr. Harris didn’t say a word about the cost. He doesn’t question any other road expense because it doesn’t give him the opportunity to grandstand.

Mr. Harris further has stated that Council should approve all expenditures. That already happens when they pass the budget. Micromanaging every single expenditure by Council of items already in the budget would bring the Borough to a grinding halt. Can you imagine what would happen if things like automotive repairs or road repairs had to wait until Council met and could approve?  Council would have no time left to actually govern. Further, we would have to hire someone to simply act as a liaison between each department and Council to approve daily expenses. Need envelopes? Ask Council. Need a tool to fix something? Ask Council.

The process would quickly devolve into absurdity, much like what happens when Mr. Harris finds something else to harangue his council colleagues with at nearly every council meeting. 

Sincerely,

Betsy Driver

Mayor, Flemington Borough