MENNA: WE NEED MORE SHARED SERVICES
NAME: Pasquale Menna (Democrat, incumbent mayor, running unopposed)
LENGTH OF RESIDENCE IN TOWN: 46 YEARS
1. What do you see as the top three issues in town?
Taxes and Financial Stability; Quality of Life; Competitive Leadership as a Center for Region
2. What specifically are you planning to do to address those issues?
Have addressed stabilization of taxes by eliminating positions and merging others before it became fashionable to do so and entered into sharing agreements with other municipalities and look forward to continuing to do so; renegotiated agreements with tax exempt properties to triple the PILOT program to us and am looking to modify state law that may permit municipalities to pass along service assessments to non profits who pay no taxes; eliminated refuse pick up to tax exempts to save money; adopted a furlough program to save jobs and maintain services and capped payments for unused time and vacation by borough employees. In all my years the Boro has not exceeded the state CAP law on spending and capital interest payments are lower this year than in two previous years due to recasting of bonds and a freeze on non essential capital outlay. The operating budget has remained flat due to 5% operating budget reductions in each of past two years even though the state pension contribution has substantially increased.
3. What will be the challenges in getting these goals accomplished?
An uncertain state mandate plan but we will continue to look at savings in every department. However, if the state permits usage fees from tax exempt properties we will be able to manage our ongoing expenditures with a surplus. This is why our legislators in Trenton must work with us to make this happen.
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?
I see a need for further merger and consolidation of departments and municipal services with other municipalities. I am a firm believer that the County should undertake regional services and assess the towns accordingly. Its the only logical and cost effective way to manage our finances in a modern economy.
5. Do you see any potential sources of revenue that need to be tapped?
Yes. We are in negotiations on those matters at this time and it may involve municipal assets.
6. What, if any, municipal services should be consolidated among towns?
7. What is one thing voters need to know about you, but may not?
After a public life on almost 22 years as an elected official, there is little they do not know.
RED BANK QUESTIONS:
Taking into account meter rates, permit fees and fines, do you agree with the borough’s present approach to parking issues? Explain.
No. its an evolutionary process. We need a long term parking solution and I have always said that. In my opinion it is not one that results in the Boro financing or building a parking solution but to leave that to the private sector in a partnership agreement to capitalize assets to the best advantage of out taxpayers. We are not there. In the meantime I am working on making parking soon more technologically more advanced, paperless and user friendly so that hopefully the age of the poles will be part of ancient history. There is no need why parking payment may not be done by cell phones or computers. We will be making parking more friendly and less burdensome.
What should the borough be doing to stimulate business downtown?
We are every day. We have world class corporations relocating to Red Bank. Like Booz Allen and Deutche Telokom and others. That takes effort. I just introduced an ordinance to suspend parking deficiency contributions if a retailer or office tenant will agree to occupy spaces before 12/31/2011 and have reduced planning an zoning archaic reviews for small businesses.
Have efforts to maintain or cut property taxes been sufficient? Explain.
We have at local level and but the state has changed rules so that they are passing costs on municipalities. It makes it difficult and is hypocritical when the state demands that towns pay their pension contributions and more yet the state says it does not have to contribute to its contribution.
Should Red Bank sell its water utility? Explain.
No. Its a source of revenue to our taxpayers and is the only utility that is paid also by tax exempt properties. Besides, we would not more than the obligations that it has so the only thing it would do is subject taxpayers to a for profit company being able to jack up rates to sustain its shareholders.
Should Red Bank continue to host the KaBoom fireworks?
I have appointed a Blue Ribbon Panel to give a recommendation on this and am expecting its comments. A decision will be made at that point. What is clear and certain is that there will be no municipal contribution to the event by taxpayers. I was unfortunately disappointed by the general support to Kaboom by some businesses who are the greatest beneficiaries of the celebration and am concerned about the scope of the event and therefore we must refocus on what this event means for us as a community.