OCCUPATION: Liaison to the Board of Trustees amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005
LENGTH OF RESIDENCE IN TOWN: 11 years
1. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE TOP THREE ISSUES IN TOWN? In walking door-to-door throughout the Borough over the past few months, residents have spoken to me most often about the following issues:
a. Property taxes
b. Downtown revitalization
c. Pedestrian/bicycle safety
2. WHAT SPECIFICALLY ARE YOU PLANNING TO DO TO ADDRESS THOSE ISSUES?
a. Property Taxes: In this devastating economic recession, we continue to find creative ways to reduce waste and control expenditures at Borough Hall and to identify new ways to bring in more revenue.
Departments will again be asked to do zero-based budgeting and to reduce purchasing by at least 5% across the board as they did in 2010.
Many reductions will come about through implementing environmental or ” green” initiatives, such as: an energy audit of Borough Hall and the Senior Center will help us to upgrade our energy efficiency through a stimulus grant. Solar panels and other renewable energy sources are avenues to be explored since they will bring with it streams of revenue, thereby alleviating the tax burden of our residents.
Red Bank has joined the New Jersey Sustainable Energy Joint Meeting (an energy purchasing group of 119 New Jersey governmental entities) and will save 11% on its electricity bills through pooled resources and price stabilization.
I will continue to work with the unions to ensure that they, too, shoulder some of the burden to reduce taxes without recourse to costly mediation. Through Governor Christie’ s Best Practices toolkit (for greater accountability, responsible budgeting and management and property tax relief), Red Bank is poised to increase the amount of aid it will receive in its final state aid payment because the Borough was able to provide 88 affirmative answers to 100 questions posed, thus proving our fiscal responsibility.
It’s important to remember that only 28% of our property taxes goes to the Borough; the remaining 72% goes to the schools and county.
b . Downtown revitalization: I will continue to work hard to reduce the number of empty storefronts that currently exist downtown. So far this year, the Council has passed two ordinances to help stimulate business in ourdowntown district.
Most recently, a temporary ordinance was passed to suspend parking deficiency schedules in the Borough’ s planning and development regulations during this economic emergency. This will alleviate prospective business owners from having to pay a large sum of money up front and will encourage businesses to move into town. This will promote rapid development and occupancy of empty real estate.
Another ordinance with a ” sunset” clause was to allow sandwich boards to be placed in front of businesses to let potential customersknow that the stores are open, especially on Sunday. The idea is to drive more business down the side streets from Broad Street where visitors naturally stroll and shop.
A combination of new economic models should also generate the need for more services and businesses to serve young professionals and empty nesters who want to live near mass transit and be able to walk to town for their purchases and entertainment.
Red Bank recently became the 34th municipality to partner with the NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency to participate in the Live Where You Work Program. This program will provide low-interest, 30- and 40-year fixed-rate mortgages to first-time homebuyers who live and work in the same town. Financial assistance will be providedregarding down payment and closing costs. This program will create a stronger community and a stronger and more reliable workforce. A new high density, reasonably priced condominium complex at the corner of West and Monmouth streets will be comprised of 57 studios and one bedroom apartments bringing in more residents who desire to walk and use mass transit.
I will continue to work closely with RiverCenter and landlords to find creativeways to entice businesses to open shop in our downtown.
Lastly, residents need to shop locally and support Red Bank businesses if they are to succeed. And businesses need to extend their hours of operation.
c . Pedestrian/bicycle safety: This is a particularly important issue because safe routes are important to maintain if Red Bank is to succeed in attracting people to live and work here who want to be able to walk and bicycle around our 1.7 square miles. And it is crucial that our children be safe as they walk to school and play in our parks and fields.
I was involved with obtaining a state planning grant to study pedestrian routes with a focus on safe routes to schools. The grant will utilize a state planner to develop roadway and pedestrian improvements at no cost to the taxpayers.
I will work to implement a Complete Streets Policy that Monmouth County adopted in July 2010 and the Borough of Red Bank on August 9, 2010. This policy provides safe access by all users by designing and operating a comprehensive and integrated, connected multi-modal network of transportation options. It will improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, children, senior citizens, the mobility challenged, andthose who cannot afford a car.
I will continue to work with and support Red Bank’ s Safe Routes to School project, a grassroots community effort initiated by several concerned Red Bank parents.
A $500,000 grant in County and Federal funding has been awarded to the Borough to implement traffic calming measures and pedestrian safety along Front Street around Riverview Hospital. The State of New Jersey recently passed a law to protect pedestrians by requiring motorists to come to a full stop when they encounter a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk and to remain stopped until the pedestrian has reached the other side of the road. Our police officers need to enforce this law which will provide a steady revenue stream to the Borough by offenders.
3 . What will be the challenges in getting these goals accomplished?
We are currently experiencing the worst economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. I don’ t believe any of us has ever lived through a time of more devastating turmoil. With regard to property taxes and revitalizing our downtown, every stakeholder (Governor, state legislators, Mayor and Council, borough employees, unions, businesses, landlords) needs to work towards the greater good by sacrificing personal gain. Everyone needs to tighten their belt.
With regard to ensuring pedestrian and bicycle safety, education is the key element. Motorists have to be educated to respect pedestrians and cyclists and to realize they have the right of way. It is just not acceptable to be distracted by cell phones, text messaging, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, or reading the newspaper while driving. On the other hand, pedestrians should never jaywalk. Cyclists need to realize that they, too, are a vehicle, sharing the roadway and must respect the rules of the road.
4 . What expenditures, if any, do you see as ripe for trimming in order to keep the budget growth under the mandated two-percent cap?
Please see my response to question 2a above.
5 . Do you see any potential sources of revenue that need to be tapped?
As I stated previously above, ticketing motorists who do not stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks should bring in a steady stream of revenue and provide more safety on our streets. The implementation of renewable energy sources will also add revenue to the Borough’ s coffers.
6 . What, if any, municipal services should be consolidated among towns? For years, Red Bank has shared 12 different municipal services with various neighboring towns or with the County: construction code services, uniform fire code services, tax collecting, snow plowing and vehicle repair, animal control, health department services, Shade Tree Commission, 911 services, police impound yard, police firing range, general public assistance program, and Central Jersey Health Insurance Fund. We are constantly exploring ways to share more services that will benefit all the municipalities concerned.
7 . What is one thing voters need to know about you, but may not?
I am not a career politician. Running for office was the next logical step to my many years of volunteerism and service to my community.
Red Bank Questions
1 . Taking into account meter rates, permit fees and fines, do you agree with the borough’s present approach to parking issues? Explain.
To help businesses, the Council recently passed an ordinance that increased the rate on meters located on streets and maintained the rate on meters in parking lots. The logic behind this was that the higher rate would make employees park in the lots thereby freeing up spaces on the streets for customers. The result has been an increase in business for our retailers.
The Smart Card also needs to be better marketed. It works somewhat like an EZ Pass or a NY City Metro Card. You add a certain amount of money to the card (for example, $25). You then slide the card through the meter for the amount of time you want to park. If you come back to your parking space sooner than anticipated, you slide the card again through the meter and the remaining dollar amount is restored to your card. I believe using a Smart Card would alleviate much of the worry about coming into Red Bank to park.
2 . What should the borough be doing to stimulate business downtown?
Please see my answer to 2b above.
3 . Have efforts to maintain or cut property taxes been sufficient? Explain.
Please see my answer to 2a above.
4 . Should Red Bank sell its water utility? Explain.
No. State statute provides that surplus generated in a municipal utility one year can be utilized as revenue in the municipality’ s current fund the following year. This additional revenue reduces the amount the municipality would need to raise through taxation.
In Red Bank such revenue helps close the revenue gap caused by the high rate of tax exempt properties. Although exempt from property taxes, the highest water users in Red Bank such as the hospital, public schools, Red Bank Catholic, YMCA, and the VNA, all pay for water and sewer.
If we didn’t use this surplus, or reduced rates to eliminate the surplus, we would have to raise the amount by taxation. Thus, the surplus used reduces property taxes. This has been done for many years in Red Bank and is also common for many municipalities that operate utilities.
There is no money in a separate account marked “Surplus.” Surplus is what the Borough realizes at the end of the year. Anticipated surplus is what we project will be our surplus at the end of the year by calculating anticipated revenue against budgeted expenditures.
At the end of the year, any surplus may be used in next year’s budget as revenue. This decreases the amount of revenue needed to be raised by taxation. $993,720 is currently anticipated in the current fund for 2010 from the water/sewer utility. Atlantic Highlands anticipates $600,000 from its utility that will gointo its current operating fund.
5 . Should Red Bank continue to host the KaBoom fireworks?
Yes. Kaboom! has become a Red Bank tradition and is looked forward to by so many people. It brings money to Red Bank businesses and is wonderful PR for the Borough. It is also a reminder to everyone of just why our country was founded. It is a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July! The distinction should be made, however, about who pays for the fireworks. The Kaboom! Fireworks on the Navesink Committee is all-volunteer and the members work tirelessly to raise the funds needed to pay for the event through sponsorships and private donations. If everyone who attended the Kaboom fireworks display chipped in $1, the entire event could be paid for effortlessly.