At Monday’s Township Committee meeting, the topic of unhappy citizens in Green Brook came up. One of the main things that was brought to the mayor’s attention was a recent letter to the editor claiming taxes are going up but services are going down.
The letter from Diane Eisen posted July 23 charges Green Brook is at the top of county municipalities in tax increases between 2000 and 2007, noting over the same period of time, the township cut services.
But Mayor Jerry Searfoss took exception to that.
“Sometimes I hear things, that we’ve lost services and we’re not getting as much as we used to get for our money, but I’ve looked at things that go on in town and I think that the only service that we might have reduced is picking up the junk at the curb,” Mayor Searfoss said. “I really don’t know of anything else. Sure, we’re down a police officer—but as far as I know I don’t think there’s any crime waves. I think crime is down in town, so I don’t think there is a loss of service there.”
He added the township has reduced the number of employees, as a result of "weaker budget," and said the township is seeking ways to increase revenue.
"I don’t know if you notice behind [town hall] there’s going to be a cell tower," he said. "That’s going to bring revenue into town. We’re also going to get street sweeping done for the entire town twice a year. That’s going to be a shared service with North Plainfield at a minimal cost to us. That’s adding a service on a budget that people always say, ‘you’re taking away services’.
"Again, I don’t know of any services that we’ve lost at all over the past four, five years other than maybe the junk day,” he said.
He also said that Green Brook is looking into a municipal court solution that may save the township money as well.
“Sometimes it bothers me when some people say things...maybe their perception is that they’ve lost services but I don’t really see it,” Mayor Searfoss added. “We work very hard to get a budget in place, and I think this is a good budget. We’re trying to keep it at around this place, as efficiently as we can. We’re a small town. Anything out of the ordinary really hits us hard. We’re gonna do something for the Fire-EMS this year, but those are things we need. It’s not like we’re just going to go out and buy things that we don’t need.”
“I just think sometimes there’s a perception that maybe we’re doing not as much as we should, but I don’t find that to be the case," he said. "I’m not going to point fingers but one of the smallest amounts of our total budget is the town and it’s hard. You don’t want to hear that, because when your bill comes you just want to scream at somebody. We understand that and we’re just trying to put the best budget we can out there.”