Letter writer's information was inaccurate, misinformed

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I have never seen what I believe to be such an inaccurate, misinformed, and unfair letter as the one written by Maureen Wisniewski to Mayor Victor Marotta in last week’s newspaper. In her letter, she asks Mayor Marotta how he sleeps at night, accusing him of “taxing people right out of town.” I would like to ask Ms. Wisniewski how she sleeps at night after making such false accusations, having no idea what has really been going on for the past two-and-a-half years since we have had a new mayor and council under the new form of government in our township.

Being a legal assistant, I would think Ms. Wisniewski is concerned about writing factual information and would never make such flagrant misstatements that serve only to skew the public’s perception of reality.

Therefore, I present her with some facts. During the decade before this current mayor and council took office, our township was mired with incompetence and mismanagement in government that drove township debt to $38 million, gave us a failed town center, and gave us steady and significant property tax increases year after year. For the past two years since this current mayor and council have been in office, Ms. Wisniewski, they have given us property tax DECREASES two years in a row – without a reduction in any of our services. When the prior mayor and council left office in July 2011, the municipal tax rate was .595 per $100 of assessed valuation. In 2012, the municipal tax rate was .583, and today our municipal tax rate is .574. That is a DECREASE for each of the two years in a row this mayor has been in office. Check your municipal tax bill to verify this information before misinforming the public, please. Incidentally, the school tax rate also decreased from $1.579 to $1.567 because the mayor and council worked with the school board for the first time to bring you that decrease. Thank you, Vernon Township Board of Education for the decrease.

There are so many things this mayor and council have done to turn things around from the incompetent governments we’ve had, but the list is too long to write here. This mayor and council are finally selling the more than 400 properties the township foreclosed on and has owned for the past two decades. We taxpayers have been picking up the tab all these years for the taxes owed on all those properties, and no other mayor or governing body before did anything about them.

Your accusation that this current mayor has “taxed people and businesses right out of town” is repugnant when, in fact, he is actually the first mayor to decrease our taxes; sell the foreclosed properties to get them off taxpayers’ backs; reimburse the lake communities the Kelly Bill monies they were owed for years; lower the cost of township administration from $245,000 annually to $133,000 annually; achieve a reduction of almost $479,000 in municipal employees’ health benefit premiums and almost a $200,000 reduction in liability insurance premiums, both without reducing any of the employees’ coverage; be recognized by the State of New Jersey for marked improvements to Vernon Township’s finances; complete road reconstruction projects, something that was not done in our town for years, namely Canistear Road; and bring in several hundred thousand dollars in grant monies to the municipality.

Our township is so much better today, both financially and in infrastructure, than it was over the past decade of mismanagement. Whether or not you think this mayor deserves a higher salary – a living wage for the full-time job he has done for our township – there is still no reason to make inaccurate and shameful statements about his record and service to the community. I wrote the petition to change our form of government in Vernon Township, which was overwhelmingly approved by our voters, and this new government is working very well and that is the only reason for my defense of the government we now have. It would indeed be sad if people were deceived into thinking otherwise and made future decisions based on that deception.

Jessi Paladini

Highland Lakes

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