I regret that the mayor and his allies were able to push through their budget without the need to address the issues raised in recent weeks by those seeking to avert any increase in this year’s West Windsor municipal tax rate. I suppose we should be grateful that the majority threw the taxpayers of this town the bone of $150,000 of tax relief from the original budget. I am sure that we wouldn’t have gotten even that much if it weren’t for the strenuous efforts of Bryan Maher and Linda Geevers.
Although I am disappointed at the outcome, I am even more disappointed at the process and the heavy-handed partisanship exhibited by the majority. At the March 26 meeting, I thought real progress had been made towards a bipartisan compromise, when Kristina Samonte voted in favor of the zero-cent increase non-binding proposal. But three weeks is a long time in politics, and it is evident that she was forced to toe the party line when it counted. Her body language and facial expressions clearly showed that she was unhappy with the position that she was forced into by the mayor and his supporters on the Council.
I might also add that I found Michael Herbert’s role in the discussions to be troublesome. He obviously counseled the mayor’s Council supporters on the finer points of Robert’s Rules ahead of time, but neglected to do the same for those members who favored a different approach. Perhaps the outcome would have been the same, but at least now we should all recognize that Mr. Herbert has a conflict as an advisor to both the mayor and the Council.
To conclude, it is clear that people in this town want tax relief. It is also clear that this so-called “damned good budget” — Kamal Khanna’s words, not mine — contains more reserves than is needed and operating line items that can be cut. In their wisdom, the mayor and his backers found all of $10,000 in operating savings, in just one line item.
Excluding salaries and wages and debt service, that amounts to a 0.05 percent cut from the mayor’s original budget proposal. I find that pathetic. At the very least, the majority should have found enough savings to offset the cost of those infamous helicopter lessons that the town is obligated to reimburse!
I believe the mayor made a big mistake by not showing a scintilla of willingness to compromise on his budget. The implication is that the budget is perfection itself — a notion that is hard to square with reality. There is always room for improvement. It’s a shame that the mayor and his allies have chosen to close their ears and eyes to the needs and wishes of the taxpayers of West Windsor.
5 Monroe Drive, West Windsor