It’s time to stop funding the Union County Open Space Trust Fund and allow the each municipality to spend that money as they see fit. Each year the municipalities of Union County pay over $10,000,000 into the Open Space Trust Fund but only receive a fraction of that money back in matching fund grants.
So, where does the balance of the money go?
In a June 13, 2016, press release from the Union County Freeholders they announced that are making available $1.1 million in available matching grants to all 21 municipalities. They recently distributed matching grants to only 19 municipalities.
Originally the Union County Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund was established in 2000 by voter referendum to preserve only 100 acres of open space land in Union County.
In 2007, Union County expanded the open inventory to 300 acres, but the county has been boasting that 300 acres have been preserved. That number hasn’t changed in over 6 years.
In essence no new land has been in procured to since 2007 yet the counties 21 municipalities continue to contribute collectively an estimated $10,000,000 a year.
If only 10% of the money is actually returned to the municipalities each year in matching fund grants, so where did the other estimated $9,000,000 in 2016 Open Space, Recreation and Historic Preservation Trust Fund money go? It’s not surprising Union County residents refer to the Open Space Trust Fund as the Open Space Slush Fund.
Now, the Union County Freeholders want residents to continue the Open Space Slush Fund on the ballot with Public Question #3. Say No to Public Question #3 and keep your hard earned money.