Mayor’s Report for February 6, 2012
We start off this evening honoring two of Barnegat’s finest Police Officers, Lauren Keilitz and Michael Diblasi . These Officers went above and beyond the call of duty in rescuing a resident from a burning vehicle on Monday January 30, 2012. Their Valor and Courage is deeply appreciated and a credit to the Barnegat Police Department, we thank you.
The Committee has spent the last month reviewing Township operations and assessing its’ needs in order to make it more efficient, with the focus on stabilizing and reducing taxes. There will be a series of moves which will allow us to move in this direction. As soon as they are finalized, they will be announced.
Of significant issues this evening to be discussed and voted on are the purchase of police and public works vehicles under NJ State Contract, the advertising of specifications for an aerial ladder apparatus for the Fire Company, second reading for the issuance of a $350,000 Bond for the purchase of a street sweeper and a public hearing for the Township to apply to NJDEP for funding under the Green Acres Program to purchase the Fiermosca and Colletti properties adjacent to the Township Dock. It is my recommendation to the Committee that we vote down the Bond issue for the street sweeper. There are some other avenues that we can explore besides bonding. I would also recommend that we vote down aquiring the Fiermosco and Colletti properties. I think we need to focus our attention more towards properties where we can stop developments of multiple dwellings.
The preceding month has had a lot of misinformation in the form of letters to the editor and scuttlebutt which I will clear up. The first issue is the use of Open Space Money. The Township has been criticized for using these funds for the much needed construction of fields. Ordinance number 2001-19 clearly states that such monies can only be used for the purposes of acquiring, developing and maintaining conservation and recreational properties, acquiring farmland for farmland preservation, acquiring or preserving historic properties or for the payment of debt service incurred by the Township for these purposes. Copies of this Ordinance will be available tonight for those who want it.
The next issue is the appointments to the Planning and Zoning Boards. The Township Committee would like to get a good cross section of qualified board members from all sections of town. Unfortunately, we have had problems filling these positions. The Zoning Board has had to cancel meetings due to a lack of a quorum. This has been an embarrassment to the Township. Men and woman with young families understandably don’t have the time to volunteer. Fortunately, we have had retired residents step up to fill the void. Both boards are now fully manned with qualified residents.
On January 11th the Township Committee held a press conference to disclose that the Board Of Education had a surplus of 2.9 million dollars. Members of the Committee stayed away from the BOE meeting due to the fact that it would have been counter productive. The fact was that they had the surplus which was acknowledged by their own auditor, was the goal. I stated at the press conference that we would not discuss BOE business at the Township meeting to avoid embarrassing the BOE any further. Unfortunately, the BOE decided to take out a full page article in The Barnegat Leader and as a result, we will bring out how instrumental the Township was to the BOE in saving them over $900,000. I would also like to mention that during the 2010/2011 school year the NJDOE informed the BOE that they were over adequate in their spending and their state aid was cut. This, plus having the defeat of their budget and the cuts instituted by the Township forced them to make the appropriate cuts. This alone allowed their operating budget to drop approximately 4%. The BOE also stated that the Township cut them $812,710 and didn’t return it to the taxpayers. Who are they kidding? When a budget is cut, it means that the money will not be raised by increasing taxes for the following year. The Township doesn’t have the money, as it doesn’t exist.