NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Each week leading to the November 6 election, the candidates running for New Providence Borough Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto New Providence.

The following answer is from Republican Candidate for Borough Council Matthew Cumiskey for Week 2.

Week 2 Question: Residents are concerned about rising taxes in New Providence. The tax bill is made up of numbers from the County, School and Borough. The Borough's portion of the tax bill is the smallest. Many costs are out of the council's control with the rising cost of services and employee benefits. However, tax payers want to know how you will control the budget while maintaining and improving infrastructure issues and services and preparing for the future. Please explain your plan.

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In 2018, the Municipal portion of our tax bill made up about 21.3% of the total bill. This equates to approximately $2,930 for the average home in New Providence. Of this amount, approximately 80% is earmarked for fixed costs (Ex. salaries, debt payments, etc.). That means roughly $586 per year for the average home is for variable costs managed by the Borough Council for items such as road paving, sidewalk repair, field improvements. The variable costs are subject to a 2% state mandated cap increase. Unfortunately, the 2% arbitration cap on salary costs expired this year, which means that certain labor increases will not be subject to the 2% cap unless reinstated by Trenton. This will put pressure on the Borough Council and the Finance Committee to manage variable costs in the upcoming budget.

As we walk through town and knock on doors, we are hearing concerns about the rising property taxes in New Jersey. As a Councilman, I will continue to look for ways to add shared services to reduce our costs. I will work with the local business community to help implement the Downtown Master Plan (which I worked on serving on the Planning Board) to increase tax revenues. I will also work with the County to apply for additional grants to help defray the costs of improving our infrastructure.

As an Accountant, my primary responsibilities include creating budgets, managing cash flows, analyzing investment returns and preparing financial statements for my clients. Such experience will allow me to immediately add value to the Borough and the budget process by providing the necessary skills to analyze our variable costs and services to determine where and how we spend our precious tax dollars. The Finance Committee has done a great job projecting out a 5 year plan. This has directly resulted in the AAA rating the Borough received by the top rating agencies. The purpose of the 5 year plan is to look to the future, make decisions today and be well prepared. It is also an important step in keeping the Municipal tax increases within a predictable and affordable limit. If you review the Municipal tax increases over the last decade, you will see that New Providence is consistently in the top 2 or 3 in terms of the lowest taxes when compared to other Union County towns. I have the skills and experience required to work with the Finance Committee as your Councilman and look forward to improving this trend.