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 Peter DeSarno for 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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Whether you are a resident who just purchased their first home or a senior citizen (like my parents) who would like to remain in the community that they love, keeping New Providence affordable for you and all residents will always be a top priority for me as your Councilman.  

As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Finance as well as a Masters in Financial Planning, I have the skill set to be an effective financial steward for our community.  I am capable of maximizing your precious tax dollars in order to deliver quality services and the well planned capital improvements that you have been accustomed to enjoying.

Due to our strong leadership, we currently have fiscal strength and stability.  This includes a “AAA” credit rating, carefully planned capital investments (ex. field improvements), effective utilization of shared services, a strong and vibrant downtown, consistently high community ratings and a very strong residential real estate market.

In 2018, the estimated average tax bill on a home in New Providence was $13,772.  This bill is comprised of three main components that are paid to the Municipality, County and the Board of Education.  The portion that represents the Municipal component is actually the smallest of the three coming in at $2,929 (or 21.27%).  This is followed by the County which is $3,101 (or 22.51%) with the largest piece going to the Board of Education $7,742 (or 56.22%).     

Like other communities, New Providence faces a number of significant financial challenges in the future. The cost pressures on next year’s budget cycle will include the upcoming negotiation of new municipal union contracts.  This negotiation will occur without the 2% salary cap that has expired. The Borough has also seen a very significant increase in the cost of recycling. Effectively dealing with these items, as well as other cost pressures, will be critical in order to manage your taxes and maintain services.  

Given my background, I am well suited to help effectively deal with these and other difficult financial challenges.  As your Councilman, I will leverage 25 years of accounting and finance experience analyzing financial statements, as well as valuable municipal audit experience that was gained while working for a Big 4 Accounting Firm.  This experience will enable me to have the ability to find opportunities where it may be possible to reduce expenses and ensure that your local government is making fiscally prudent, cost effective decisions. In addition, my years of budgeting and planning experience will enable me to help strategically stage, plan and evaluate future capital improvements.  

Further exploring shared services and aggressively pursing grant money may also represent areas of opportunity.  Over the years, our town has leveraged shared service agreements in a number of areas. It is a good idea to continue to look for additional opportunities that are in the best interest of the residents of New Providence. Pursuing additional grant funds is also something to be explored.  As your Councilman, I will be able to leverage my familiarity with our state grant process in Trenton in order to pursue funds for operations and capital improvements for our community.