I am a mother of two whose family goes back four generations in Middletown and whose children were educated in our Middletown schools. For the first time in my family’s history, I see families being priced out of our Township, because of our soaring taxes. As our incomes have remained flat, we have seen steady, significant municipal tax increases exceeding 40% in the last 6 years. If you believe every municipality has experienced these increases, think again. While many of our surrounding towns have had minimal or no increases in taxes, over the last six years, our elected officials have burdened our citizens with a dramatic tax increase unmatched by our surrounding communities. Many members of the next generation of Middletown children cannot afford to live here. Poor management of our local government produced these unnecessary tax hikes. I am running for office to reverse this trend.
We must start by reducing taxes by cutting our debt, which has mushroomed over the last decade under the current regime from $48million to $72 million. Over the last decade, our Township Committee has overspent its way through an $8 million dollar Arts Center, bonded for $2.5 million for turf fields for our kids that disappeared somewhere in the Town’s budget, and paid the same politically connected engineering firm to work on every Township engineering project without competitive bidding for the last 30 years or more.
We must also cut spending, consolidate services with the Board of Education and neighboring towns and look for partnerships with private and non-profit entities. We must continue the trend initiated by the efforts of my Democratic predecessors Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short to privatize more of our brush collection, and open up our professional contract awards to competitive bidding. For the last few decades, I’ve been an executive officer of our volunteer first aid squad. I’ve recorded many business meetings and, when a purchase is necessary, three bids are sought and then voted on. Why can’t our Town do the same for professional services that cost taxpayers well over $1,000,000 per year?
These steps are easy to grasp, but have eluded the current regime, because these steps would threaten the cozy, lucrative relationship enjoyed by the professionals retained by our elected officials to serve this Township. You may not be aware of how your Township is being run, because the Township Committee steadfastly refuses to televise its meetings. If you visit the websites of similar-sized or even smaller municipalities (e.g. East Brunswick, Rahway), you will find complete coverage of their regular meetings, where any citizen who wants to can see how their tax dollars are being spent. What do we have to hide? How come we broadcast events from the Arts Center, concerts in our parks, but not our Town meetings?
Walking our township, I’ve seen with my own eyes that we have seniors who can barely afford to purchase food, as well as victimized homeowners who lose everything when a tropical storm sweeps through, with no solution in place to their long time flooding predicament. Our town’s Senior Center has a very good food program, yet the recreational side of it is not as attractive to seniors, who pay a nominal non-resident fee to attend the more enjoyable Keyport Senior Center. Why can’t we have equally attractive senior programs at our own Center?
I want to restore this town to what it was — a reliable and affordable place to live. But I also insist that we keep in step with what our neighboring communities offer to residents. Our recreational facilities and our overall Recreation Department lag far behind the thoughtfully planned recreational centers available to resident of townships far smaller than Middletown. When elected leaders take your hard-earned money for taxes, you need to know that they will spend it wisely. The current regime has failed miserably, and I hope you will consider a vote for change.
Middletown Democratic Candidate for Township Committee