by Bruce Paterson of Garwood
All elected officials, taxpayers and residents in Union County should watch the video that is up on the Berkeley Heights official website, www.berkeleyheightstwp.com. It’s called “Cup of Joe” and has an interview with Berkeley Heights Mayor Joe Bruno and Councilman Woodruff. They are discussing the reasons and procedure for their town’s 2013 non-binding referendum for succession from our Union County.
At the 20 minute mark the mayor brings up two paramount issues regarding Union County government that motivates their referendum in Berkeley Heights: Is government spending wisely? And, is government doing what it’s supposed to do? The Berkeley Heights Council has been deliberating this the last few months and found the county government has failed in this charge, thus the referendum.
As residents and taxpayers, we should all approach our town councils and request they also deliberate on these charges. Our elected officials must be responsible for revenues and expenditures not only on the local level but also where our taxes go up the ladder to the county with their expenditures and services. Roughly one quarter of our tax dollar goes to the county.
This is not a Democrat or Republican political issue, but an issue of the people wanting good government. All towns would find that Union County government has not performed in their best interests. Presently the county budget is nearing $500,000,000, yet each town would find minimal return on this money.
A watchdog group called “countywatchers.com” on their website has exposed much waste, abuse and possible corruption within our Union County government over the years. I personally attend the weekly freeholder meetings as a resident and am amazed at the lack of accountability for their actions. When pointed out, they simply will not change. This all should be motivation enough to put heat to your town’s elected officials to do something.
A fact in each general election, 12-14 towns out of 21 county towns normally vote against the incumbent freeholders, implicitly rejecting the county system in place. This should send a message to all our elected officials that the county is not servicing our towns properly.
With conclusions at hand, then town discussions of succession, districting, even dissolution of Union County government, resolutions of condemnation or fairness, or a town’s self-imposed cut of taxes being sent to the county should be considered as the next step in truly serving the public’s interest and bringing good government to our county.