One of the reasons I entered public service is that, as a business executive, I believe that all levels of government must relentlessly pursue cost efficiencies in the delivery of their respective services. I know of too many people driven out of New Jersey due to its high cost of living. It is sad when our seniors, those using the least services but having so much to offer in terms of volunteerism and experience, are driven to more tax friendly environs.
Therefore, my philosophy as mayor has been to “do more with less,” and have skillfully done so in clear contrast to many other government entities. In fact, our 2017 aggregate salaries and wages, the largest line item in our budget, are less than they were in 2008. This has been accomplished by reducing our workforce without layoffs while closely working with our six collective bargaining units and fairly, but firmly, renegotiating their contracts.
Over the past eight years the tax levy (the Town of Westfield’s portion of your property taxes) has increased approximately one percent per year. To put that in perspective, during that same period Union County’s tax levy to Westfielders has increased a total of 40 percent. That is why Standard & Poor’s rated Westfield AAA and stated that the Town exhibits “strong” management!
Under my leadership, the town council has sought and secured over $6 million in grant monies and saved hundreds of thousands in property tax dollars with our AAA rating.
In addition to managing a tight budget, we have continued to improve the quality of life in Westfield. We became the first town in the State of New Jersey to successfully establish a “Quiet Zone.” We stopped construction of a 150-foot cell tower in a residential neighborhood. We implemented numerous traffic safety improvements, particularly around school zones and downtown. We carefully managed our state-mandated affordable housing requirements and prevented the Armory from being zoned for high-density affordable housing. We changed our liquor laws allowing for Addams Tavern to come to Westfield and for Ferraro’s second and third floor expansions. We have made shopping in town more convenient by adding new on-street meters with additional credit card and pay-by-app payment features, 15-minute free parking at street meters, over 120 parking spaces for shoppers, more employee parking options and free 15-minute free express parking spaces.
Our “green team” has been working hard to make the town more environmentally sustainable. Over the last two years we will have planted over 1,000 trees, installed library solar panels, instituted town-wide clean-ups and expanded recycling options. We also completed the Mindowaskin Pond dredging and shoreline restoration.
I am running for another term because I have the experience to manage us through three very critical state mandates that are underway – the Council on Affordable Housing, revaluation and the master plan.
Also, with my experience, I will finish what I started: I will complete Mindowaskin Park 2018 – new plantings, new pathways and a new state of the art playground for children of all abilities. I will continue to implement the Mayor’s Downtown Task Force Recommendations. I will finalize and complete the plans to upgrade Tamaques Park and its facilities. I will continue our strong fiscal management policies and triple A bond rating. I will continue working with our state legislators to secure peak-hour one seat rides. And of course I will continue my Saturday Day morning office hours – after all, residents do love my coffee.
You know me. I am a proven, dedicated and tested leader. I love this town as much as you do.
With your help and your vote, we will keep Westfield moving in the right direction – strong, safe and beautiful.
Mayor Andy Skibitsky