CARTERET – Mayor Dan Reiman spoke of the challenges created by the economy and state finances during his annual state of the borough address on Tuesday.
Reiman criticized Gov. Chris Christie’s efforts to bring an end to the state’s Urban Enterprise Zone program by using its funds to balance the state budget. Since its inception, Carteret’s UEZ has provided $5.5 million collected through sales tax revenue for projects to create employment services, stimulate business and improve infrastructure in the borough, the mayor said.
Reiman blamed Christie for “balanc[ing] his budget by sacking working-class towns like Carteret … while providing tax cuts for the richest New Jersyans.”
Borough schools lost $2.5 million in state aid. “Have no doubt this means fewer programs, less teachers, larger classroom sizes and higher school taxes statewide,” Reiman said.
Despite the fiscal challenges, the borough was able to pass a budget that gave Carteret residents a net property tax reduction in 2010. Reiman noted that Carteret had reduced staffing by over 20 percent, a process begun before Trenton leaders voiced a need to streamline government. Borough employees began paying towards their health insurance costs before the state mandate and in many cases pay more than the state’s required contribution, he said.
Reiman also highlighted steps taken boost revenue. The borough has subleased unused space in public buildings to private companies. Carteret is also aggressively pursuing Brownfields redevelopment projects.
Reiman mentioned several redevelopment projects, including the recently-completed P.C. Richards corporate and retail center in West Carteret and the Commander George Lisicki veterans housing apartments on Washington Avenue that are due to open within the next few months.
“We expect our progress towards building a better Carteret to continue in 2011 and the foreseeable future,” Reiman concluded.
A copy of Reiman’s remarks as prepared for delivery is available at the borough’s website.
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