A freak storm wreaked havoc along the East Coast this week. Atlantic City Electric reports that most power will be restored by July 6. Until, the outages disrupt family plans and create uncomfortable living conditions as we simultaneously see a heat wave coupled with extreme humidity. There is, it appears, no rest for the weary. Emergency services in Millville an Vineland seemed to have coped with the situation admirably, from what I have witnessed.
The Freeholders unanimously (sans Tony Surace) approved a resolution calling for the Planning board to include Holly Ridge into the county sewer plan. Surace displayed amazing integrity by abstaining from this vote. Why amazing? Democrat Freeholders have rarely ever abstained from a vote due to conflicts of interest unless those abstentions served them politically while ensuring their resolution passed. Surace is an employee of Salmon Ventures, Ltd., a shadowy organization that advocates political policy behind the scenes.
While personally I am opposed to the Holly Ridge project for several reasons – as are many reasonable people as well as unreasonable activists – I believe the Freeholders made the correct vote in this case. Their vote is not mandating the clear-cutting of protected wilderness, or even advocating for the big evil developer. Thei vote was simply to ensure fairness to a business that has to date invested a lot of money into a project, and current rules say the project is legal and passes environmental muster.
In fairness, the developer must be allowed to see the process through. And, those that have valid opposition to this project also have the opportunity to organize and voice their concerns.
My concerns are manifold. The ratables chase is a fraud. Adding residential units in the hopes of increased ratables is a pipe dream – in the end the cost of providing services increases exponentially beyond any increased ratable income. Schools are stressed with more children – and this is a ratable game that cannot be won. It costs approximately $14,000 per year to educate a child. This number is the last I heard, and may be differently today, but it is ballpark. We know that no matter how nice the houses that are built, we will not be receiving $14,000 a year in property tax payments.
If the units are taxed at the average rate in Millville, we can imagine what – $6,000 a year in property tax income? $6,000 a year is unconscionable and insane. And the city sees a loss of $8,000 a year towards education alone assuming one child per household, for twelve years. This money has to be subsidized by other property owners.
Okay – the proponents of this project will quickly point out that it is a senior-only housing project. Until when? Until a New jersey court rules senior-only housing projects unconstitutional? Until the Millville Planning Board makes an unwise decision and opens the project up to anybody – this happened with the other 0ver-55 project on the Maurice River.
Which brings e to another point. Something like 25% of the houses in Center City Millville and the Third Ward are vacant. Housing values have plummeted. There is no demand for new housing – the Maurice River Project (what a wildly successful venture that has been, so far) has still not seen a tradesman on premises despite the Planning Board allowing them to sell to anyone. We do not need new residential units in this city.
I am sure that I will get feedback both pro and con about this one. The important issue is fairness to all parties to see the process through, and hopefully common sense will reign. It has happened before in Cumberland County, once or twice.
Cumberland County Clown hosts Triad
Our idiot Sheriff Bob Austino hosted the quarterly meeting of Triad, whatever that is. I am sure their objectives are admirable, but they lost any credibility by allowing a liar to host their program. You have to remember that Austino claimed that nobody deserved to earn more than $75,000 a year – and recently stabbed every taxpayer in the back by demanding $102,000 a year. The Democrat Freeholders all applauded him by remaining silent. Republicans displayed a decided lack of backbone by also remaining mute. At the very least, the incompetent sheriff should have received a vote of no confidence by all parties. They had no problem doing that for Gordon Dahl, despite the fact that he is not even a county person.
Shuttle Service Shuffle
The county recently leased an empty parcel of land for five months for courthouse parking. This was an aside in one of the local newspapers, but deserved more attention. The courthouse parking lot is inaccessible due to construction of a parking garage – but business must go on. The city hired a bus service to ferry courthouse employees and jurors from a distant county owned lot at a cost of $7,600 per month. This deal in acquiring use of a lot down the block from the courthouse for $3,200 a month is a significant savings for this one line item. Kudos. Now if they can apply the same logic to every other line item in the budget, looking for similar cost-cutting measures we might actually see substantial savings across the board. I doubt anyone of the current Freeholders has the stamina for such an undertaking. Unfortunate.