Entries in solar program (2)


Democrats oppose reform to prevent future solar scams

At last night's NJ Herald debate, Democrat candidate for Freeholder Patrick Curreri came out squarely against the reform that would have prevented the solar program that ended in a $26 million debt for Sussex County Taxpayers.  Four Freeholder candidates held the debate in Newton this evening, Democrat Howard Zatkowsky was absent.

Democrat Curreri opposed the steps taken by neighboring Warren County which has established the requirement of voter approval for discretionary county bonding for projects such as the one that became the solar debacle in Sussex County.  The reform has been so successful in Warren County that the county has been able to cut property taxes there.  In contrast, Sussex County has had to raise its property taxes year after year.

Warren County passed the reform in a 2013 ordinance which requires voter approval for bonding that exceeds 2 percent of the annual appropriations of the county.  As Freeholder Herb Yardley said:  "This ordinance would provide a check on spending.  It would slow down the process of acquiring debt and it would force it out into the open to be debated publicly and then voted up or down."

The reform being proposed is one that is already used by local towns.  In 2017, Newton voters shot down a school bonding referendum.  The voters of Newton had the opportunity to take on $18 million at a cost to them and their families of $337 per household for the next 20 years.  They weighed the benefits with the costs and said NO.  This reform places county government under the same discipline.  It is a reform that expands transparency and democracy.

At the close of the debate, Curreri had the opportunity to correct his position on reform, but when asked by Herald reporter Bruce Scruton directly, he reiterated his opposition to no borrowing without the approval of the voters.  Curreri said he OPPOSED the reform on live video and to the crowd in Newton.


Is Sussex County looking to sell its landfill?

The manner in which the George Graham-dominated Sussex County Freeholder Board has handled the Solar debacle has cost county property taxpayers dearly.  This year's property tax increase is a harbinger of things to come.


As solar activist Harvey Roseff has pointed out time and again, the money produced from the solar program will never cover the cost and the indebtedness of the project.  Solar "underperformance" was always supposed to be the risk of the developer -- not the taxpayers -- so why did Graham hire back the vendors responsible for leaving county taxpayers holding that debt?


After the county Freeholder Board's special meeting to find budget fat last week, David Danzis of the New Jersey Herald reported that "a nearly two-hour-long special meeting of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders did not yield any significant changes to the 2017 county budget."

Some of the people on that freeholder board have openly talked about finding enough fraud, waste, and abuse to fund multi-billion dollar programs to pay for building and construction projects or indeed, the state's entire transportation infrastructure.  But when it came time to scrutinize their own budget they found... nothing.  Not one significant cut.


So it comes as no surprise that Watchdog has learned that a waste management company has contracted with a firm in Sussex County to explore the purchase of the County landfill.  Unwilling or unable to make spending cuts, the county appears to be preparing for a combination of property tax increases and selling off assets.

Watchdog intends to pass specific information along to reporters at the New Jersey Herald and Star-Ledger, so that they have the opportunity to run down the story and get the full details to the taxpayers of Sussex County.  Newspapers should be more effective at doing this than a blog.  There is something to be said for having a reporter show up with a microphone.  Let's see if it happens.  In the meantime, we will continue to keep our ears to the ground to keep you updated.


There is certainly a swamp that needs draining.  A county government swamp full of Hudson County Democrats who are clothed "Republican" for convenience.  And now they are attempting to extend their influence by taking legislative seats away from the GOP in Sussex County.


Stay tuned...