The most important issues that Readington Township faces are economic sustainability and lack of transparency in government operations.
In our view the Township has gone backwards financially under the current administration. Our ratable base has declined in the past 3 years, most notably in the commercial sector where the assessed valuation has declined by 12% since 2015. The picture is worse looking back to 2014, the year before our opponent took office. Since then, we lost $58 million in assessed value. The tax burden on residential property owners has far outpaced the commercial sector under this administration as well. Taxes paid by residential property owners have increased 11% over the past 3 years; farm assessed property taxes have increased 5%. The commercial sector’s municipal tax contribution has declined 2% over the same period.
Not only have homeowners and farms been disproportionately impacted by rising taxes, they bear an increasing amount of debt. Since 2015, the year our opponent took office, our total municipal debt burden has increased 5% to nearly $60 Million. The result? A 26% growth since 2015 in the amount we pay out of our municipal budget just to service this debt. In 2018 alone, 25% of our municipal budget goes toward debt service and that allocation has increased by 15% since 2015.
These alarming trends must be reversed now. The Economic Commission we propose will do just that: proactively engage with citizens and business leaders to bring the right mix of businesses to our community. Businesses that will increase the quality and convenience of life in Readington without compromising its rural character.
It is important that government operations and decision making be transparent and that information on decisions that affect all of us be readily available to the public. Through deep immersion in the current government’s operating practices we have uncovered violations of the NJ Open Public Meetings Act (“Sunshine Law”) and the township has been given notice that they must comply with state law by making records of their meetings accessible to the public. Several committees are not in compliance (e.g., Environmental Commission and the Agricultural Advisory Committee). We have also discovered that the Open Space Advisory Board, and the Environmental Commission, are operating outside their current written charters. When elected we will immediately implement a review of all operating charters and make sure that each part of our governing body is in compliance with state regulations and is operating in full transparency.
Denise brings 25+ years of business experience in marketing, data analytics, forecasting, market research, product management and advertising in the health care and telecom industries. Denise holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from Rutgers University, which included a focus on environmental economics, looking at ways to improve water conservation and clean air among other things. Elizabeth compliments that with her years of local government and non-profit experience. Also a NJ native, with a degree from Rutgers, Elizabeth most recently was the administrator for her town’s Community Preservation Program in which she managed grant allocation for historic, recreation and open space projects. Her expertise in fundraising and community building encompasses art, social services and land conservation non-profit organizations.
Together we look forward to incorporating the voice of all Readington citizens into the planning process through surveys and town meetings and to shining the light of transparency on government operations. Importantly, we are eager to rebalance our economics and revitalize our community with new shopping, dining, and recreation opportunities that our Economic Commission will bring to bear.