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.