Entries for February 12th, 2017

Mayor Woodruff is Questioned about Taxpayer Support for Doubling Town’s Debt.

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

The Berkeley Heights Town Council is pushing forward with a $33,000,000 municipal complex that seems to have very little support from the taxpayers.    During the February 7, 2017 Berkeley Heights Town Council meeting a $28,000,000 bond ordinance was approved for this project.    The $28,000,000 will more than double Berkeley Heights debt.   Under normal circumstances,  the voters in town would be able to petition for a referendum under either the Home Rule Act of Faulkner Act to put the approval of this bond to a vote.     However,  the Town Council chose to bond under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law which denies the residents their right to a referendum.

During an executive session, a closed door meeting,  the town discussed a non-binding referendum but it was decided that it would cause a “moral dilemma”.     A non-binding referendum is one way for the town to gauge the resident’s interest in a project.

During a discussion period on Feb 7,  a resident asked the mayor: “How do you know that the people of this town want to double the town’s debt?”.   The mayor stated that they didn’t.

Local officials are elected to make decisions for the town.   However large decisions with long-term impacts on property owners should not be able to move forward by the will of a very small number of people, elected or not.   Long after they have left the council the town will still be burdened with this debt ( 27-40 years ).

Here is a video of the Mayor’s response: