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Democratic Candidates Blast 'No' Budget Votes

"Budget deliberations began about eight months ago. Shouldn’t they have found common ground by now?" Astri Baillie and Ben Wolkowitz ask in a prepared statement.

The following release submitted by Democratic Borough Council candidates Astri Baillie and Ben Wolkowitz questions the no votes on the budget by Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto and Councilmen Don Links and Rob Catalanello. .

In a joint press release on the , Astri Baillie and Ben Wolkowitz, candidates for Madison Borough Council, state: “We support the Mayor’s action of breaking the tie vote on the budget at the Council meeting of April 23, but we found the no votes of Council members Tsukomoto, Links and Catalanello disturbing. Budget deliberations began about eight months ago. Shouldn’t they have found common ground by now? Moreover, why would they have endorsed the introduction of the budget on Monday, March 26, only to vote against it, knowing that a defeat could potentially have resulted in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs assuming control over the Borough’s finances?”

“On several occasions at Council meetings this spring, Mrs. Tsukomoto stated that her most important job as Councilwoman is to craft the budget. Having served nine years on Council, I couldn’t agree more. Each Council member is responsible for asking the hard questions, exploring the options, and working with fellow Council members throughout the eight-month period to make the difficult choices and then come to consensus on a budget. You do not agree to introduce a budget and then surprise your fellow Council members, Mayor and the public with a no vote. That is not open and transparent government,” states Astri Baillie.

Ben Wolkowitz further observes: “It is disappointing that this year the Council was split on an issue of such import as the Borough budget, especially given the turmoil that has surrounded the process. There is precedent for their actions; the same three Council members voted against the budget last year. Then Mayor Mary-Anna Holden, voted in favor of the budget, breaking that tie. Their actions are even more troubling when you realize that Mr. Catalanello is the Council liaison to the Borough Finance Department and his backup is Council President Tsukamoto. They should have been on top of the financial issues facing Madison and they had more than enough information and time to reconcile their differences with the other members of the Council. Madison needs long range financial and capital planning to ensure its continued financial well-being instead of negativity and divisiveness on its Council. That unfortunately doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.”

“We praise Mayor Conley and Council members Esposito, Landrigan and Vitale for supporting a budget that is capped at two percent and maintains the services Madison residents expect while protecting the Borough’s AAA bond rating,” conclude Baillie and Wolkowitz.

Anonymous May 05, 2012 at 08:33 PM
So the kinder, gentler campaign that Ms. Baillie promised has already evaporated. As for the “difficult choices,” one would have to say, after reviewing her nine years on council, Ms. Baillie NEVER made the choices that would put Madison on a Fiscally Sustainable path. Let’s review. When she joined council in 2002, the tax rate stood at $.407 per $100 of assessed value. By her last year on council, it had climbed to $.626, for an increase of 54%! But it gets better. Over the course of her term on council electric utility rates increased 107%, and the water rates by 64%. In total, homeowners saw their payments to the Borough increase 81%. Compounded, it’s a 7% increase in the cost of living in Madison for EVERY year of her reign. And that’s even with a massive draw down on the various surpluses accounts, which “cushioned” taxpayers from even higher rates! So if you see Ms. Baillie and her running mate wandering around town, please stop and ask her two questions – First, with that type of record, why would you be offering up yourself as an expert in Budgeting and making “Hard” Decisions. Second, if you return to council, should we expect more of the same??

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