In a joint prepared statement, Democratic candidates for Madison Borough Council Maureen Byrne and John Hoover state that they totally agree with the Madison Eagle recent observation that the 2016 Madison municipal budget “falls into the boring category – maintaining the services residents have come to expect and providing for improvements without any ‘sticker shock’ for taxpayers.” They also agree with the paper’s conclusion that “this kind of ‘boredom’ is good.”
The candidates noted “It wasn’t very long ago that the borough’s municipal budget and budget process was anything but boring. Services were being cut; our roads and water sewer systems were disintegrating; Madison’s AAA credit rating was in jeopardy, and there was even an attempt to publically fire the borough administrator at a very contentious council meeting. But thanks to Mayor Bob Conley, the Democratic majority on council, and our hard-working, borough administration, we’ve become boring.”
Stated Hoover, “The borough is now running a healthy surplus; we are again making significant investments in our infrastructure; municipal tax increases have been minimized; and Standard and Poor’s has taken the Madison AAA credit rating off its negative watch. This year, council has allocated $3.8 million to the Capital Improvement Fund of which $2 million will go to road and sidewalk improvements. In 2012, only $750,000 went to the fund. Driving the streets of Madison is certainly a lot more pleasurable now – and a lot safer.”
Byrne added: “We are also now seeing the fruits of the strategic planning process, first proposed by Mayor Conley and managed by Council President Wolkowitz. The Municipal Budget Strategic Plan Committee led by Tom Bintinger produced guidelines that included specific measures that could be applied during the budget process (e.g., debt service should not exceed 10% of total appropriations). These measures were designed to ensure that the borough’s finances would always be managed in a fiscally prudent manner. For 2016, it has determined that the municipal budget was either in compliance with all the guidelines or will be trending in the right direction based on future budget estimates.
Another strategic planning committee, the Utilities Strategic Plan Committee, concluded that the electric utility wasn’t allocating sufficient funds for capital investment. After further study by a professional consultant, it was concluded that the utility should be investing about $700,000 a year in order to ensure it could continue to provide the high level of service that it has in the past. As a consequence, council recently appropriated $300,000 to be put aside for future equipment replacements, thus avoiding the need for future bonding.”
Candidates Byrne and Hoover concluded, “We support the recent actions of the council on financial matters. They have demonstrated the ability to craft responsible, conservative budgets that provide for adequate investment in our roads, sewer systems and water and electric utilities while maintaining and improving municipal services and controlling taxes. And by applying the recommendations and guidelines from the strategic planning committees, future councils will ensure that the progress made is sustainable and that future budgets will continue to remain ‘boring’.”