Residents of Matawan came to the Council meeting seeking help with the recent escalation in their tax bills due to the revaluation. Property taxes for older homes have gone up tremendously, forcing residents to call upon the Borough Council for aid. Problem is the revaluation was forced upon Matawan by the County. People concerned with losing their homes to foreclosure and worried as to how they will pay this huge increase filled the audience.
The Borough Council responded with passing a 4% increase for all Borough employees who are not part of a collective bargaining agreement. Residents were also informed the Labor Attorney and Borough Administrator will begin negotiations on the Police Dept. (PBA) contract. Borough Council has already passed the new Chief of Police's contract, along with the Lieutenants contracts.
Mayor Buccellato requested the Appraiser for Matawan to be present to answer questions from the residents. Due to the sinking economy, revaluation appraisals (which were done prior to the economic downfall) residents are finding themselves in the position of high taxes and lower home values. In some cases taxes tripled.
Residents asked the Council to cut the Budget, which the Council does control. However, it fell on deaf ears. It's an election year folks and the Democrats have done very little to cut expenses. The Mayor has repeatedly asked for the Council to come up with a way to cut taxes to no avail. At a recent meeting he went so far as to asked all the Department Heads to find a way to cut 10% of their respective Budgets. We have already seen the Borough cut down to a four day work week in order to cut costs, the results of which aren't in as yet.
But don't worry the 2008 increased Road Program will have repaved streets in Matawan. So when we become a bankrupt Borough we at least will have paved streets for the moving trucks to drive on.
It is increasingly disturbing to hear the Council give increases to employees, spend money on engineering fees, expand the Road Program, attorney fees, Recreation Dept., new computers for the Police Dept, etc. Will someone tell us how this helps with the ever-increasing property taxes? Not that these expenses aren't needed but are they life threatening? Could they not wait until next year or perhaps spread some of these items over the next few years. The way it is now the Mayor's idea to plan ahead for the coming years budgets will remain just an idea. How long can Matawan begin the new year with a deficit?
On several occasions we have heard Council members say the infrastructure has been neglected. It is true. Previous Administrations have not wanted to increase the municipal budget as the School Budget was growing rapidly. Perhaps this was not a good decision. That does not mean that this Administration has to correct all the poor decisions of the past in one year. Doesn't anyone get it? The economy is in the dumper, we are dealing with a deficit of $400.000. for medical. What other items on the Budget are we over-extended on? What about gasoline? People are losing their homes and jobs and our Borough Council wants to make Matawan pretty.
Priorities need adjustment.