The Edison Battery Factory has long been an eyesore in need of redevelopment. There is currently a proposal before the Council which would renovate that site and redevelop it into 333 residential units for rent. Two thirds of these units will be studio and one bed room apartments. The proposal calls for a $6.3 million issuance of pubic bonds which will help pay for some of the public infrastructure improvements necessary to complete the project. A town contributing in this fashion to a redevelopment project is common and absolutely appropriate under state law. This contribution will be paid back entirely from dedicated revenue coming from the building itself so that there will be no financial impact to existing taxpayers as a result of this proposal.
I have served on the Council’s Redevelopment sub-committee for over two years and have vetted this proposal thoroughly with the Township’s professionals and my council colleagues. I feel comfortable that this proposal will not have a negative impact on our taxes but will create a better atmosphere, more vibrant and visually pleasing Main Street and generate additional revenue for West Orange. This proposal is just one step in a full revitalization of our Main Street corridor.
There are significant amounts of information available on the township’s website and I encourage anyone with questions to consult the available information or contact me with any questions or concerns.
Taxes and Municipal Services
Delivering high quality municipal services at the best possible price and in the most cost effective manner is the cornerstone of my candidacy. This is the most important issue facing the Township. West Orange has long been known for quality municipal services. Our public works services are, simply stated, second to none. Our Police and Fire services are top-notch professional departments who serve our community honorably and effectively. Our Township Library and Recreation Department provide quality education and recreational opportunities for our children and families; our Health Department and senior services are exemplary. Our municipal workforce will undergo customer service training this coming year which will only enhance the level of service and the quality of the interaction between the public and its government to the benefit of residents and businesses alike.
West Orange residents pay a heavy tax burden for the quality services we receive. The average residential tax payer pays $11,821 in 2011, which was actually a $75 decease over 2010. As your councilman I have helped deliver two straight municipal budgets with no tax increase on the Township portion of your tax bill. In fact, our 2012 budget will once again reduce spending, this time to 2008 levels. During my term we have enhanced our medical collections capabilities and we recently approved a private service to collect our outstanding municipal court debt. These non-tax revenues will continue to help offset the financial burden on our taxpayers, and I pledge to continue searching for new non-tax sources of revenue.
I believe West Orange is heading in the right direction. I fully intend to continue pushing for fiscal restraint with the caveat that we must be certain that we continue to deliver quality services. Municipalities across New Jersey have struggled with this balance. West Orange has as well, but as we move forward our municipal work force is now over 40 employees less than it was three years ago due to some very difficult personnel decisions and attrition. As taxpayers we will see the relief from this in the years to come, and as residents we will find a leaner municipal government but one that continues to perform its core functions exceptionally well.
Recreation and Senior Services
West Orange is lucky to have dozens and dozens of volunteers who compliment our paid professional staff by offering their time and talent to our senior residents, our children and some of our special needs residents. All told, our Recreation Department along with our non-profit partners make our Township a Community. I will continue to do everything I can to make it easy for our staff and volunteers to enhance the quality of our lives here in West Orange.
Our recreation programs provide a healthy outlet to our children, provide them great memories of their childhood, and expose them to coaches who care about their development. Our senior programs enhance the lives of our older residents, provide meaningful and important social activities and provide fun events to meet old and new friends. Our program for residents with disabilities provides residents and their families much needed social interaction, fun and excitement. The benefits and importance of these programs is immeasurable. They are irreplaceable.
As your councilman I have and will continue to seek ways to enable our professional staff and volunteers to continue these critical programs and services and I will continue to find ways to make our Township a “Community”.