Entries in voter approval (4)

Tuesday
Apr242018

Disappointed in the guys running the Freeholder Board

In 2015, the New Jersey Herald supported the election of two local mayors -- Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro -- to the Freeholder Board.  They beat an incumbent Freeholder and his running mate.

On election night, the defeated incumbent said:  "(My running mate) and I didn't only have two individual opponents, we also had the New Jersey Herald as an opponent." 

That's true, along with many regular Republicans who looked at the solar project as a scam and a taxpayer rip-off.  For these reasons, Watchdog also supported Rose and Lazzaro. 

The Herald called the failed solar project "far and away the biggest issue of the campaign."  Rose and Lazzaro were elected on the promise of either making the solar project run efficiently or getting our money back.  

But after getting elected, they formed a Freeholder Board majority with incumbent George Graham that left millions worth of valuable solar panels and equipment unused and rotting away in a warehouse.  

Instead of taking legal advice to go after the bond attorney whose responsibility it was to protect Sussex County taxpayers -- they re-hired him and accepted a large campaign contribution from him. 

They spent more than $500,000 to "study" the problem -- by giving a no-bid contract to the same lawyer whose office had approved the solar project in the first place.  That's right, his office was the taxpayers' last line of defense -- but said "do it" anyway.  Why was hehanded the contract to figure out what had gone wrong? 

Rose and Lazarro praised that report -- which never once mentioned the failure by the bond attorney or the lawyer who wrote the report -- but cost taxpayers $8,064 per page and is all but useless in pursuing a case to claw back some of the millions lost by Sussex County property taxpayers. 

The solar fiasco happened because there were no taxpayer controls over borrowing.  So when a Republican candidate for Freeholder named Herb Yardley suggested that Sussex County adopt the same ordinance that Warren County uses to curb debt -- that no new borrowing occur without the approval of the voters -- you would've expected the majority on the Freeholder Board to support him. 

But that's not what happened.  Freeholders Graham and Lazarro came out in opposition to taxpayer control over borrowing -- leaving the door wide open to future solar-type scams.  To make matters worse, these Freeholders refused to support fellow Republican Yardley because he was in favor of this conservative, common sense proposal.  

Warren County is cutting property taxes because of this reform, while in Sussex County property taxes continue to go up.  But these Sussex Freeholders actually opposed giving property taxpayers controls over debt so much that they would have rather seen a liberal Democrat win than elect a conservative Republican who supports such a reform measure.

Then there's the Freeholders' recent vote to borrow to spend millions more on new buildings for the county community college at a time when community college enrollment is shrinking by 8,000 hours a year and county population is in decline.  It makes no sense -- and the voters had no voice to stop it. 

Why?  It all comes back to transparency and open government.  Rose and Lazarro campaigned on being transparent but have been anything but.  No-bid contracts negotiated and handed out without the knowledge of the Board.  And backroom dealing is so commonplace that county insiders knew Jonathan Rose was the next Freeholder director before he did.  Before the vote was taken, it had been published in the Freeholder agenda.  

If Rose and Lazarro want to be re-elected, they are going to need to explain how the next three years will be different from the last three.  They will need to own up to past mistakes and set out an agenda to correct them.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday
Apr042018

Warren County is set to cut county property taxes

Under the leadership of outgoing Freeholder Director Ed Smith, Warren County cut spending and debt and held the line on property taxes.  Because of their fiscal discipline, now the Warren County Freeholders can actually cut property taxes for county residents.

Here are a few of the headlines from Warren County...

Warren County looking at lowest budget in 9 years

www.wfmz.com/news/western-new-jersey/warren-county-looking...budget.../21564666

Feb 25, 2016 - WHITE TWP., N.J. - For the first time since 2012, Warren County is looking at a balanced budget, according to freeholders. Warren County officials moved forward with the 2016 budget Wednesday , setting their eyes on attracting new business to the county. The proposed budget shows no tax increase and ...

Warren Co. Freeholders pass 2017 budget with no tax increase

www.wfmz.com/news/western-new-jersey/warren-co...pass...budget.../409621003

Mar 22, 2017 - Warren County Freeholders passed the 2017 county budget with no tax levy increases Wednesday night.

Warren County keeps taxes flat in lowest budget since 2005 ...

www.lehighvalleylive.com/warren-county/index.../warren_countys_918m_budget.ht...

Mar 24, 2017 - Warren County's $91.8 million spending plan for 2017 provides for a new library location and continued courthouse repairs without any added impact to taxpayers. The annual budget -- the county's lowest since 2005 -- was unanimously approved by the three-member freeholder board this week. Spending ... 

In contrast, we have Sussex County.  Our residents have seen property taxes, spending, and debt go up every year.  

Freeholders introduce budget, up 3.47 percent with tax hike

Posted: Mar. 24, 2017 12:01 am 

The budget is a 3.47 percent increase from last year's $109.4 million budget and the total tax levy would increase by nearly $4.3 million to $89.14 million countywide.

The proposed budget would increase taxes $61.70 per $100,000 of assessed value on the average homeowner. The tax rate is 53 cents per $100 of assessed value, compared to 50 cents per $100 of assessed value last year.

It is time for Sussex County to follow Warren County in adopting a no borrowing without voter approval ordinance.  It is a reform that leads to less spending. less debt, and lower property taxes.  It will end back room deals and the hard sell-jobs by so-called county "experts."  Just the facts, transparency, open discussion, and then the voters -- the taxpayers -- decide.

 

Sunday
Oct292017

Democrat Perez says taxpayers are too stupid to decide

Last week, Warren County Freeholder Jason Sarnoski wrote in to the Herald to applaud Sussex County Freeholder candidate Herb Yardley for proposing that Sussex County voters be given the opportunity to decide on any future borrowing in the county.  That's right, Herb Yardley's idea is that before the county goes off on yet another half-baked scheme that will put it deeper into debt, the idea would get debated, placed on the ballot, and the voters would decide.

 

The idea is currently at work in Warren County and in individual municipalities in Sussex County -- like Newton, where the voters recently got to decide if they wanted to go $18 million into debt or not.   The proposal was placed on the ballot and voters were asked to approve more than $18 million in bonds to fund the expansion and renovation of the Merriam Avenue School.  The $18.69 million in new debt (bonds) would have increased the tax burden on the average home by $337 annually over the next 20 years.  959 voters said "no" and 238 voters said "yes" -- so the borrowing didn't happen.  

 

Dan Perez' philosophy is to take the power to decide away from the voters and give it to local politicians.  He would rather the taxpayers  pay an additional $337 in property taxes because -- in Dan Perez' philosophy -- average taxpayers are not lawyers like him, and so they are too stupid to be trusted to decide on issues like the debt they and their children and grandchildren will be paying over the next twenty years.  Dan Perez is liberal elitism at its worst.

 

When you think back on all the spending "mistakes" that the Sussex County Freeholder Board has made, can we afford more of them?  Dan Perez thinks so.

 

Dan Perez is a Democrat running for Freeholder.  Perez is a New York lawyer who has helped many a county insider with their legal troubles.  Perez is himself an insider, who has been appointed to two patronage jobs courtesy of the county Freeholder Board. 

 

Responding to Jason Sarnoski, Dan Perez argued the case for county political insiders across New Jersey.  Perez said to "trust" the political establishment in New Jersey, despite the fact that it is one of the most corrupt in America.

 

Democrat Perez pointed to urban Democrat machine strongholds like Hudson County, Essex County, Passaic County, Union County, and Camden County as places that Sussex County should emulate.  Perez asked his followers to reject the fiscal conservative example of neighboring rural Warren County in favor of these cesspits of county corruption -- where literally hundreds of politicians and patronage holders have been convicted or have pleaded guilty to corruption of one sort or another.  Perez is asking us to embrace this filth.

 

 Fortunately, most taxpayers know better.  They want their government back in their own hands.  They want a plan to get the county out of debt, so that we can begin to talk about getting property taxes under control. 

 

The people who pay property taxes know that the Democrats' talk of lowering them is pure bullshit (because they are the party of higher property taxes) and that the Republicans' hopes to lower them are pie-in-the-sky until we get spending and debt under control.  Neighboring Warren County has such a plan. 

 

While Sussex County was stumbling from crisis to crisis, from scandal to scandal, Warren County passed an ordinance that prevented its politicians from borrowing without first getting the approval of the taxpayers.  It is a reform that works!

 

What it does is this:  Before any long-term borrowing can happen, it must first go on the ballot for the voters to decide whether or not they think it is a worthy project and they want to pay for it.  The ordinance doesn't say that you can't borrow, it just says that you must get permission from the voters -- the people paying the taxes -- first.

 

Once this ordinance is passed, the politicians on the Sussex County Freeholder Board will have to ask the taxpayers for permission the next time someone comes up with a scheme to use tax money to place solar panels all over the place, or to build a new county administration building, or to finance the sale of the county dump to private investors.  It would put any of these crazy ideas on hold until the voters can properly scrutinize the plans and then place it on the ballot for the voters to decide.

 

No wonder insiders like Dan Perez are pissing their pants!

 

Some insiders make an argument that begins with the words, "what about an emergency" -- when they darn well know that the ordinance makes exclusions for emergencies.  It also makes exclusions for anticipatory borrowing, where the money is promised to the county.  What it ends is borrowing just to spend money and give contracts to other insiders. 

 

Insiders like Dan Perez are livid over this legislation and at how it threatens them and their fellow insiders.  But taxpayers are sick and tired of being pissed-on by people like Dan Perez.  This is a reform that is long overdue.

Sunday
Oct082017

Dan Perez has a six-year plan to bankrupt Sussex County

When you think back on all the spending "mistakes" that the Sussex County Freeholder Board has made since 2011, can we afford six more years of them?

Dan Perez thinks so. 

Dan Perez is a Democrat running for Freeholder.  Perez is a New York lawyer who has helped many a county insider with their legal troubles.  Perez is himself an insider, who has been appointed to two patronage jobs courtesy of the Freeholder Board. 

At the Freeholder debate on Wednesday evening, Dan Perez argued the case for the county establishment.  Perez said to "trust" county government.

Fortunately, most taxpayers know better.  They want their government back in their own hands.  They want a plan to get the county out of debt, so that we can begin to talk about getting property taxes under control. 

The people who pay property taxes know that the Democrats' talk of lowering them is pure bullshit (because they are the party of higher property taxes) and that the Republicans' hopes to lower them are pie-in-the-sky until we get spending and debt under control.  That's why we need a five-year plan to get out of debt, instead of Dan Perez' six-year plan to put Sussex County into bankruptcy.

Neighboring Warren County has such a plan.  They are on the path to a debtless future.

How are they doing it?  By putting county government on a diet.

While Sussex County was stumbling from crisis to crisis, from scandal to scandal, Warren County passed an ordinance that prevented its politicians from borrowing without first getting the approval of the taxpayers.  It is a reform that works!

What it does is this:  Before any long-term borrowing can happen, it must first go on the ballot for the voters to decide whether or not they think it is a worthy project and they want to pay for it.

Once this ordinance is passed, the politicians on the Sussex County Freeholder Board will have to ask the taxpayers for permission the next time someone comes up with a scheme to use tax money to place solar panels all over the place, or to build a new county administration building, or to finance the sale of the county dump to private investors.  It would put any of these crazy ideas on hold until the voters can properly scrutinize the plans and then place it on the ballot for the voters to decide.

It is the same thing that just happened in Newton, where the voters got to decide on a ballot question seeking voter approval for more than $18 million in bonds to fund the expansion and renovation of the Merriam Avenue School.  Voters were asked to approve $18.69 million in new debt (bonds), which would have increased the tax burden on the average home by $337 annually over the next 20 years.  959 voters said "no" and 238 voters said "yes" so the borrowing didn't happen.  

No wonder insiders like Dan Perez are pissing their pants!

Some insiders make an argument that begins with the words, "what about an emergency" -- when they darn well know that the ordinance makes exclusions for emergencies.  It also makes exclusions for anticipatory borrowing, where the money is promised to the county.  What it ends is borrowing just to spend money and give contracts to other insiders. 

Insiders like Dan Perez are livid over this legislation and at how it threatens them and their fellow insiders.  At Wednesday night's debate, Perez lied about the ordinance and used the term "gimmick" to describe it.  Now telling lies is something lawyers are trained at, so we shouldn't expect better from Perez, but we think "gimmick" better describes what Perez did when he tried to get the fine reduced for a convicted scumbag who tried to bring heroin into the country.  That was a "gimmick" and that was a convicted scumbag and that was Dan Perez.

Here's a copy of the ordinance passed by Warren County.  It's working!

RESOLUTION 97‐13

On motion by Mr. Smith, seconded by Mr. Gardner, the following resolution was adopted by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Warren at a meeting held on February 13, 2013.

RESOLUTION OF THE WARREN COUNTY BOARD OF CHOSEN FREEHOLDERS TO REQUIRE VOTER APPROVAL BY PUBLIC QUESTION OF BONDED INDEBTEDNESS OF THE COUNTY OF WARREN

WHEREAS, Warren County was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature in 1825 as a Class III County (political subdivision) deriving its authority from the people and the State Legislature; and

WHEREAS, the creation of debt is addressed in part by the State Legislature in Article VIII, Section II, Paragraph 3 (a) of the N.J. State Constitution which requires that debt in excess of 1% of the annual appropriations of the Legislature shall be submitted to the voters for approval; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Chosen Freeholders is an entity of limited authority whose members are chosen by the voters of Warren County and who have solemnly pledged to exclusively represent their interests; and

WHEREAS, the members of the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders shall operate within the framework of the Constitutions of the United States and the State of New Jersey along with the laws enacted by the Legislature and who have a moral obligation to have its decisions reflect the will of the people they serve; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Warren County have the right to transparency in the operations of County Government and to be informed of the decisions that affect the financial health, safety and welfare of the County.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders in the County of Warren, State of New Jersey as follows:

1. It shall be the policy of the Board of Chosen Freeholders not to create nor authorize debt on behalf of the County of Warren that exceeds 2% of the annual appropriations of the County, unless such debt is approved by the voters pursuant to provisions of N.J.S.A. 19:37‐1, et. seq.

2. The Board of Chosen Freeholders further resolve that the citizens of Warren County have a right to be informed of the specific purpose of any borrowing authorized by its Board of Chosen Freeholders along with the overall costs to the taxpayers and the manner in which such debt shall be repaid and the terms and conditions of such debt.

3. It shall be the policy of the Board of Chosen Freeholders not to assume additional debt, nor enter into any bonding agreements not approved by the majority of the voters of Warren County.

4. Debts incurred by independent public authorities or boards who have their own governing body, established under statute, or when repayments of said debts shall be funded by revenues generated for the purpose of said authority or board, are not regulated by this Resolution.

5. Nothing herein shall prohibit the Warren County Board of Chosen Freeholders from making emergency appropriations when said emergency affects the physical assets of the County of Warren, or the public health, safety and welfare of the residents of the County of Warren.

6. This Resolution is not applicable to debt funded by sources other than the County Purpose Tax.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately.

I hereby certify the above to be a true copy of a resolution adopted by the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Warren at a meeting held on February 13, 2013.

Steve Marvin, Clerk of the Board

Recorded Vote: Mr. Gardner yes, Mr. Smith yes, Mr. Sarnoski yes

And kudos to Republican Freeholder candidate Herb Yardley for proposing this for Sussex County.