Ever notice that our opponents only care about spending when they are not able to do it anymore? When the new majority took over in January, they took seriously the fiscal challenges facing the borough. Over the years, the leadership in South River has dug itself into a hole, spending too much and racking up too much debt.
Year to date, the Council has only issued $550k in new debt, issuing bonds only for recommended capital maintenance and improvements.
All year, the new Democratic majority has been reviewing ways to rein in on our spending problem while at the same time developing long-term solutions that improve the level of service for residents and business.
“The budget has been tight,” said Council President Haussermann, “but that does not mean residents should suffer by cutting services. That’s why we’ve been looking at small efforts all year long—efforts that cost very small sums of money—but provide a big effect. When we say we’re spending smarter, that’s what we mean.”
Councilwoman Meira explained, “We’re coming out of the 2016 fiscal year that left us with $476,000 of unfunded liabilities, a majority of it to pay for debt from our firehouse. That alone resulted in over a 6% increase in taxes. We can’t continue like that.”
One of the efforts taken early this year was to examine the budget in a bipartisan fashion. The new Administration appointed Republican John Sapata to chair the Budget Committee. Unfortunately, Mr. Sapata refused his duty, providing an oral resignation, the first time a sitting councilman has refused his liaison responsibilities without conflict in history.
Councilman Jones said, “I was appointed to both the Budget and the Finance Committees and because of this issue, the Finance Committee was forced to pick up the slack. We’ve met every Monday this year to discuss the ways we’re spending money in the borough and to develop creative solutions to save money while also improving the quality of services we provide.”
Councilman Haussermann, who chairs the Finance Committee added, “we’ve cut administration costs this year, by first employing a part-time Borough Administrator until we knew we had the right fit, and then by reining in bloated salaries. We found significant savings (and added services) by switching the bank we use and we also identified unused cell phones that the borough was paying for. Overall, these savings have well exceeded $100,000. We hope that if we have a cooperative Budget Committee next year, we can find even more taxpayer savings.”
Councilman Alai, who chairs the Public Safety committee felt it important to stress a particular point. “We’re committed to keeping residents safe. Often times, our opponents use fear tactics to suggest we’d find savings by making cuts that endanger resident public safety. I will not let that happen and in fact, the Public Safety Committee has had fruitful discussions this year to improve pedestrian safety and better support all of our public safety arms. I’m excited to be part of an Administration that takes resident costs, safety, and quality of life so seriously.”