I consider future tax stability my priority moving forward. We must continue to provide a high level of services Bellmawr residents have come to deserve and expect. Borough Council must prioritize projects that are truly needed and reasonably affordable. Merging services with our surrounding towns will qualify us for State grants and help curtail spending. However our police, fire and EMS personnel must have the equipment needed to keep them safe while they service others. I will always protect and assist our first responders. Economic growth through redevelopment is a real necessity. The former Puritan Oil site on the BHP is under redevelopment consideration and was recently declared a clean site and is open for development.
The most important issue, without question, deals with the public's health, safety and welfare. As of September 25,2020, Bellmawr has suffered 177 Covid 19 cases and 8 unfortunate deaths. Compared to other towns, we have been fortunate and that is a credit to all of our residents. The health of our citizens is of paramount importance to all of us. Following CDC guidelines are critical to control the spread of this disease. We must remain vigilant until a safe proven vaccine is developed. Typically, controlling local spending would be the most important issue. We cannot lose focus of the Borough's finances. As always, I will strive to make the budget stable and lean.
I believe any decision to consolidate Bellmawr with another town should require discussion with Mayor and Council. If promising, it should be independently studied and the result made transparent to the community. Only then would I support a ballot question and allow our residents to decide such an important issue. Personally, I do not believe it would benefit our community, however if the electorate supports a merger, I would respect their wishes. Shared services are a totally different issue. Every effort should be used to explore shared service agreements wherever possible. Bellmawr has been involved with this initiative for many years, and will continue to do so in the future.
In 2017, the Borough created the Bellmawr Redevelopment Committee, ( not to be confused with the BWD Authority) to promote economic growth. This group has been quite successful, as a new storage facility and a Chipotle's Restaurant have recently committed to locate in Bellmawr. The role of the local governing body, when discussing economic development, is more than just providing the physical infrastructure, roads, water supply, waste removal and IT. It's about making yourself available to speak to company representatives about your town and the benefits of locating in your community. You become the strongest asset for your town. If re-elected I will continue to work with all of our partners in this capacity.
Jim D'Angelo & Johann Fina for
Bellmawr Council 2020
I have a strong financial background as CFO of our family owned business and Treasurer of the Bellmawr Hockey Association for the past 13 years. I will use my vast private sector experience and background as a new Councilwoman. Budget priorities include: support for the Bellmawr Police Dept. to ensure the safety of all residents; invest in our water utility to provide safe affordable drinking water; and explore every avenue to enhance and grow our local economy through redevelopment opportunities. Investing in our commercial and industrial base will increase ratables growth and off-set property taxes for our residents. If elected, I would implement zero based budgeting to make certain every dollar collected is being appropriately spent.
Taxes, taxes and taxes. I support the newly adopted Hotel Occupancy Tax Ordinance scheduled to be implemented in January of 2021. All revenues generated come directly from the patrons rather than the owners. In addition, I support the 2% Medical Marijuana Tax Ordinance, currently in effect and adopted by Council this year. I support the newly passed Redevelopment Agreement for the old Bellmawr Landfill. The entire landfill will be cleaned to state standards and permit significant development opportunities for Bellmawr. These policies should be advanced to give much needed tax relief to our residents. Stabilizing taxes would be my single most important priority to address as an elected Councilwoman.
I understand the State’s push to consolidate municipalities. However, I don’t necessarily believe combining towns together is the answer. Bellmawr has some very positive attributes that I would not want to put at risk. As a lifelong resident, I know we have the finest Police Department in South Jersey. I would never want to jeopardize that. The same could be said for our Public Works Department. Bellmawr is fortunate to have a highly skilled work force where many projects bid out to expensive contractors are performed in-house by our dedicated DPW. Bellmawr is presently a leader in shared services. Dozens of shared services agreements are already in place, saving significant tax dollars. I believe we should explore even more opportunities.
Redevelopment and commercial growth is the key to a successful business plan. In September of 2017, Bellmawr created the Bellmawr Redevelopment Agency (“BRDA”) for the express purpose of working with Mayor and Council to attract clean ratables and spur economic growth. Its purpose is reverse conditions of deterioration of housing, commercial and industrial facilities. We need to take advantage of the New Jersey Housing and Redevelopment Law which allows towns to designate an area in need of redevelopment, to help the Borough achieve its development goals. Promoting physical development that will conducive to the social and economic improvement in Bellmawr is a goal I can stand behind. Bellmawr is well positioned for the future.
Complete the upgrades to both of the town’s water treatment facilities, higher than normal levels of toxins were found in the water drawn from our system wells in early 2019, additionally the facilities have not been upgraded since the 1980’s. The residents deserve a safe and reliable water supply. These can be achieved by monies already appropriated for the task but not released, requesting county, state, and federal assistance. And using the profits from Bellmawr Water each fiscal year which nets approximately $400k. This money is typically drawn back into the Bellmawr General fund with uses not specific to the water infrastructure.
As space is limited, my running mate Sandy Valdez included our other priorities in her response.
The town’s infrastructure such as the water and sewer systems which have been left to age without upgrades. These are items of safety concern and will be addressed as stated in question one. However, the most important issue would be to address the high property tax rate. The residents of Bellmawr need tax relief. Addressing reduced taxes through multiple channels, such as building a stronger commercial tax base utilizing landfill redevelopment, taking advantage of the town’s ability to tax the medical marijuana facility, and building a strong more efficient shared services system with fellow towns.
Consolidation and shared services only make sense if they reduce costs to the residents without reducing the quality of the service. I am all for sharing costs but not in areas that I believe would put residents at risk. More specifically I would not support a County Police force as I believe it takes away/distracts from the direct community needs.
Bellmawr sits at the corner stone of Southern New Jersey, with every major transportation artery directly accessible or very close. We need to develop and dedicate ourselves to a marketing strategy that showcases this attribute. In addition we have a large parcel of land ready for redevelopment. We are close to the city of Philadelphia and within driving distance of several major cities on the east coast. Combining these positives with a dedicated marketing effort/team can only net great things.
-Implementing an official emergency notification system that provides a quick response to our residents. There are many simple neighborhood Apps that can be reviewed for best fit. In many cases, the cost can be off-set through advertising or through federal funding.
-My running mate, Bill Groff, and I will work tirelessly to be fiscally responsible without imposing undue financial hardship on our residents. We don’t believe the quick and easy answer is to increase property taxes or reduce services. We believe we can create A Better Bellmawr by coming up with creative solutions and all working together.
-As space is limited, Bill Groff has included the water treatment facility as another top priority in his response.
High property tax is something I consider to be the most important issue facing Bellmawr. Our residents need relief especially now through the difficult times they are facing. Each year as budgets increase, we must find new and creative ways to increase revenue without increasing taxes to the residents. Building a stronger commercial tax base would be one way to achieve this goal.
Bellmawr is recognized as one of the best in the area. Whether it Police, Fire, EMS or municipal services, Bellmawr has a reputation of being leaders in services rendered to its residents. If there are situations where shared services can be implemented without imposing costs or reduced services to our residents, then I would support. I would not support any shared services that would increase response times and in turn jeopardize the safety of our residents.
To attract new businesses to Bellmawr, we need to promote where we are located and what we have to offer. First, we are easily accessible to every major transportation system. Second, we offer large pieces of land ready for new businesses to develop. Finally, my running mate and I have new ideas and would like to create a marketing team to promote Bellmawr as not only our home but hopefully their businesses home as well.