Councilman Pat Rowe: 30 Years in Madison!
Next year my wife, Kim, and I will be celebrating our thirtieth anniversary of moving to Madison. We still consider it the best decision we ever made. Living in this great community, where we raised our family, has been a wonderful experience, and it has been a privilege and an honor to represent the town for the past fifteen years on its board of education and borough council. Earlier this year I decided to run for a third term on the board to continue that service and because I felt there were several significant issues that I have been working on that would benefit from my continued advocacy at the council table.
During the next three years, the borough council will be making many important decisions that will greatly impact the affordability and quality of life of all Madisonians. Because of my experience as a member of Madison’s board of education and borough council, as well as effectively holding various management roles in the private sector, I believe I am the best candidate to better ensure the council makes choices that are well thought out, fiscally responsible, and include input from the entire community.
I have spent much time examining our town’s budgets and financial statements, identifying ways to provide residents the lowest rates possible for property taxes and utilities—both of which the council controls. During my time in office (2014 to present), council has kept annual property-tax increases under 1 percent on average, and have lowered electric rates by 10 percent. The latter action has saved the community over $4 million since the rates were cut in 2017, with savings now totaling $2 million per year.
But we can do more, and I am committed to pushing the council to maintain our high level of services while we continue to reduce the overall cost to residents through permanent rate cuts and savings through additional shared services.
I also plan to continue to look to lower the large surpluses we are retaining. Over the past seven years our various accounts have grown by almost a $1 million per year, and Madison now holds significantly more of its residents’ money than is needed to run the borough, or as “savings” for an emergency. Further, I want to continue to address our large infrastructure needs to better ensure we are wisely allocating our precious capital dollars. The strategic planning committees gave us a good blueprint, but council needs to check constantly that proposed spending first covers our most vital services—water, sewer, and electric. Roads and buildings may be more visible, but as Flint, MI, and Newark, NJ, have shown, the delivery of clean drinking water is one of our paramount responsibilities.
As I’ve noted in the past, we, the Borough of Madison, are a $58 million-a-year operation. Being able to properly oversee that large an annual budget and a diverse set of departments, plus other issues such as affordable housing, land use, maintaining our downtown, and so forth, requires public servants with solid backgrounds in finance, budgeting, personnel, and legal/governmental experience. I believe I have demonstrated throughout the years that I have all of the above, and the independence to speak my mind on issues that may not be in line with the majority of my colleagues but is nevertheless what I feel is right for our community.