This article was published in the Monday, October 21, 2019 edition of The Patch.
As Council members and taxpayers, we take fiscal responsibility very seriously. We believe there needs to be a proper balance between maintaining our services and infrastructure and the funding they require. Our track record shows how we successfully prioritize safety and quality of life, while keeping taxes and debt in check.
“When compared to surrounding towns, such as Cranford, Clark, Springfield and Kenilworth, our debt percentage is one of the lowest in Union County.”
So how is Garwood’s financial health? We have a favorable bond rating of AA stable. We only carry less than a quarter of the amount of debt allowed by the State, including the recent purchase of a rescue platform ladder truck. When compared to surrounding towns, such as Cranford, Clark, Springfield and Kenilworth, our debt percentage is one of the lowest in Union County.
How about our record on taxes? In the last three years, we have produced the three lowest consecutive tax impacts in two decades, including no increase at all in 2018. The average municipal tax increase in the last three years is just $33 compared to a decade ago when the average was $140 from 2007 to 2009.
From our experience, we know Garwood can continue to be strong economically. For one, we can continue to utilize State and County grants to return your tax dollars to work for you here in Garwood. These grants have helped offset road projects to the tune of approximately 50-70% and the Hartman Park revitalization project by 48%. Also, we can continue to ensure we keep the budget tight and seek new revenue sources. The 5-year capital plan, which is reviewed on an ongoing basis, is another way we can make sure large purchases are planned sensibly. In fact, we extended the capital plan from 3 to 5 years after taking office.
We will continue to ask for your input on financial decisions by keeping an open line of communication. Informal meetings, such as Breaking Down the Budget, and the new Citizens Advisory Panel are just some examples of our community outreach.
With your support on November 5th, we will continue to keep Garwood financially strong.
Jen Blumenstock, Garwood Councilwoman and Candidate
Marc Lazarow, Garwood Councilman and Candidate
Russ Graham, Garwood Councilman and Candidate