WATCHUNG, NJ - Watchung Borough Mayor Keith Balla has issued a statement to Borough residents Sunday. The statement in its entirety follows.

Dear Residents,

It has come to my attention that a document has been sent to every resident in town, paid for by the political campaign of two residents running for Borough Council, that makes several false or misleading claims about Borough activities I have presided over. One of the most reckless claims is that unless we elect these two candidates, everyone’s taxes would somehow go up by $3,181. 

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When I was elected mayor last year, I was humbled by the opportunity to bring our town together for a common cause: making Watchung a better, safer, and more attractive place to live and raise our families. 

 

This does not bring us together. Claiming one party or another is going to spend us out of existence has no basis in fact, nor does it reflect any statements made by either party’s candidates. Since I’ve taken office, democrats on council have been able to pass exactly zero resolutions. They have not been able to officially propose anything, let alone the ones detailed in the document you all received. 

 

Earlier this year, I did appoint an ad hoc committee comprising local residents to explore how to build a library and community center in Watchung in an efficient, fiscally responsible way that would serve as a place to gather and grow for all residents, year round. That committee has not yet made a recommendation, as we do not yet have the guidelines for applying for a state grant to help pay for the library. This document claims the opposite, without basis. 

 

This council has not proposed any specific solution to our lack of sidewalks and road safety, much to my disappointment. Yet, the document you all received cites costs residents are to bear for roads that aren’t even administered by our Borough. My call has been to work with Somerset County to demand they take action, and to do so in a way that is fiscally responsible and with the smallest impact on Watchung residents. School children are walking on the side of a dangerous road to get to their bus stops on Valley, and just last month one of our children was badly injured in a hit-and-run accident. This is something I thought we all agreed we need to do something about.

 

Further, this document purports to know something about how we propose to improve our emergency response and fire safety. Neither I nor anybody on council (and nobody running for council) has proposed “moving to a paid fire and rescue service,” and to suggest somebody is, and that they’re proposing we spend $1.5M to $2M to pay for it is again, reckless and unhelpful to the cause of providing emergency services to all residents with quicker response times.

Dear residents, I ask that all of us -- republicans, democrats, and independents -- work together to make Watchung the best place to live.

 

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