Real Progress Montclair Slate Will Establish Five-Year Financial Plan If Elected

Mayoral candidate Karen Turner asks whether the current township leadership has done its homework

This is a statement released Thursday afternoon by the Real Progress Montclair slate headed by mayoral candidate Karen Turner.

Today's article on Baristanet, "Montclair Council Salaries: Worth the Frustration?" talks about the healthcare benefits that the township provides to employees. The piece highlights the cost of the benefits we provide to municipal workers—and is an excellent example of why Montclair must develop long-term financial planning practices.

Karen Turner, the Real Progress Montclair (RPM) mayoral candidate, had this to say, “In doing research for Concerned Citizens of Montclair (CCM), I learned that in December 2007, the township started offering lifetime post-retirement healthcare benefits to various township employees after completing 15 years of work, and upon attaining age 62. I don't begrudge township employees accepting generous benefits that are offered to them. What struck me was the question: how can Montclair afford to offer post-retirement healthcare benefits that were more generous than a U.S. soldier would get for serving on a combat field (I think they need at least 20 years of service)? Did the town leadership do its homework to understand if this was sustainable? Further research showed that Montclair also offers post-retirement healthcare benefits to some employees after 10 years and others after only five years of service.”

LeeAnn Carlson, running for a councilor-at-large position on the RPM slate added, “The town government needs to understand what kind of burden decisions have on Montclair now and into the future. Long-term planning is essential.”

RPM plans to establish a five-year financial plan if elected. RPM also will look to re-establish the long-range planning group that existed under former Mayor Clifford Lindholm. This committee would ideally be comprised of two to three members from each of the Capital Finance Committee, Operating Budget Advisory Committee, and the Board of School Estimate.

Turner also stated, “We, as a town, need to understand the impact of these and other like commitments before decisions are made.”

RPM has many ideas to help put Montclair on a better track for long-term sustainability. RPM's website, to be launched imminently, includes an achievable framework of ideas.

ira shor March 16, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Cutting wages and benefits makes the wrong people pay for the current economic crisis. Karen Turner did not address the long-term downside of runaway real estate development in Montclair. Over-building enriches real estate developers while draining the public sector. Over-development produces higher demand for municipal services like public schools, sanitation, water, police, fire, parking, parks, etc. while tax abatements for big developers pass on uncollected taxes to the rest of us rate-payers. Turner and her slate have issued no policy statement on over-development of the past 10 years and on the regressive property tax policy which over-taxes low-end homes and on under-taxation of high-end properties. Let's hear from her and other candidates on those issues.
tryintosurvive March 16, 2012 at 03:23 PM
But since the current wage and benefit costs are not sustainable, Karen is focusing on the right problem. From another blog I read a quote from Karen - “In doing research for Concerned Citizens of Montclair (CCM), I learned that in December 2007, the township started offering life time post retirement healthcare benefits to various Township employees…” This decision itself will undoubtably cost the town millions of dollars over the next few decades. This is not sustainable and no other organization offers benefits like these. They are not affordable and only get more expensive each year. The town council and mayor in 2007 clearly made a mistake on this. No amount of addressing runaway real estate development in Montclair that happened in the past will fix this.
Kyle Martinowich March 16, 2012 at 03:37 PM
"on the regressive property tax policy which over-taxes low-end homes and on under-taxation of high-end properties" This is the worst piece of information I have ever seen posted. Homes have "assessed property values" based on Land and Structure. "ALL" property owners that are not PILOT, Non Profit Exempt or have an Abatement, pay the same Rate %. Lesser valued homes do not pay at a higher rate than high valued homes. That is false and misleading. Ira are you suggesting that we should have a progressive tax scale based on House Value? Also, Montclair's population growth in the last 10 years: From Patch: http://montclair.patch.com/articles/census-data-south-central-jersey-show-most-growth-while-montclair-numbers-fall "Montclair's population has gone from 38,977 in 2000 to 37,669 in the most recent survey" which was Census 2010.... Also from Patch: http://montclair.patch.com/articles/enrollment-breakdown-is-in-take-a-glance-at-schools-report Enrollment since 2007 is pretty much flat. Most PILOT programs or Tax abatements bring redevelopment of distressed or under utilized properties. Whether I agree with there concept is a different conversation! Not very "free market" in principle....
ipso facto March 16, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I hope as part of this long range planning, they reinstate the practice of including the BOE capital plan into the Current Year & 6 Year Capital Funding Requirements. For some reason, the current administration stopped this practice in 2011. This would change the $10MM total in the current submitted budget to approximately $35MM.
CGI Debate March 20, 2012 at 12:43 PM
The Montclair High School Civics and Government Institute will be hosting a community-wide mayoral debate. The debate will take place April 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the school's LGI room. The focus of the debate will be on education in Montclair. It will be moderated by two high school seniors, Chris Murphy and Gabriella Peterson. Residents can submit questions for the candidates via email at cgidebate@gmail.com or Twitter @CGIdebate.


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