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Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Julie Figlar (D): Week 3 Question

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Julie Figlar (D): Week 3 Question

Please give the definition of transparency in politics and how would you try and expand it? Change is often used as a campaign buzzword — name the most important things you believe need change and why?

“Transparency” is the state of being “Transparent,” the latter of which means:

free from pretense or deceit, easily detected or seen through, readily understood, and/or characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices.

In a nutshell, it means being straight with taxpayers, making the governing process as simple as possible so it is easy for residents to understand, and providing as much information as possible about township happenings, as well as the why and how decisions are made.

For Rina Franchino and I, transparency in local politics means the following:

  • Being open and accessible to the residents of Berkeley Heights. Whether this be out and about in the community, talking to residents and hearing their concerns and feedback, communicating with them on social media, being sure to respond to their emails and/or phone calls, and overall just being willing to not just hear them, but to listen to them, as well. Then acting on what we hear.
  • Not being afraid of pushing as much information out as possible through the many different communication venues we have available now, including our township website, official township and Council members Facebook pages, Instagram, newsletters and e-newsletters, TAP into Berkeley Heights, in-person community forums and videos, as well as Council meetings themselves. There is no “silver bullet” in this area but we should use all of these options to reach as many people as we can.
  • Educating residents not only about what we’re doing, but why and how it affects them. Residents appreciate straight, honest answers even if they don’t agree with the decision being made.

Based on these criteria, it’s safe to say that Team Purple has greatly improved transparency in local politics, and we want to join their efforts to expand on the progress that’s been made in this area.

These are some important changes that I would like to have effect if elected – and all are part of being transparent with our residents.

  • I want to improve our sports and recreation programs for children and families. Our Recreation Commission does a great job in all their programming and volunteers put a lot of effort into fundraising.  As an active PAL parent I know we have to build on our progress in this area and we need to give the Recreation Commission and its volunteers the tools to succeed.  I will work to bring together the different stakeholders in order to bring about these critical improvements. Adding more transparency here means having a Township Council member serve as a non-voting member of the Recreation Commission.  That member will be responsible for reporting on fields and recreation during Township Council meetings, helping ensure our elected officials are well aware of plans being discussed to make these much-needed improvements. This will also allow our local leaders – from the top down – to help secure the money and resources to meet our recreation goals.
  • We can’t afford to be in separate “silos” anymore; we must pool our collective resources, knowledge and experience and prioritize a long-term plan to not only improve and increase our playing fields and recreational opportunities, but in improving services for residents in all areas. One hand always needs to know what the other one is doing.
  • Long-term planning and responsible management of redevelopment projects that have PILOTs attached (payment in lieu of taxes) will lead to Berkeley Heights being better able to keep taxes down in the future.
  • We need to make sure more roads are repaired, and that they are fixed correctly the first time around. It’s frustrating to see roads like Dell or Riverbend being torn after they were paved because the initial work wasn’t done properly. So what are we doing to ensure that doesn’t happen? NOW, we are installing proper drainage underneath if roads need it before they are milled and paved, and we have hired a professional engineering company to design the roads projects, oversee them as they go, and make sure no vendor gets paid in entirety until the job is done to our satisfaction.

I encourage everyone to read more about Rina and me, and our detailed plans for Change We Can Agree On at www.bhteampurple.com. Please vote for Julie Figlar & Rina Franchino for Township Council on November 5th, Column A. Thank you for your support!

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Rina Franchino (D): Week 3 Question

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Rina Franchino (D): Week 3 Question

Please give the definition of transparency in politics and how would you try and expand it? Change is often used as a campaign buzzword — name the most important things you believe need change and why?

For Julie Figlar and I, transparency in local politics means:

  • Being accountable to residents in person. We need to take township government to the community, and not make residents come to us. Mayor Devanney and Team Purple have been out and around in the community in 2019, as well as using official Facebook pages and other outlets to show how progress is being made. Julie and I will do the same thing. We need to use mediums where residents are.
  • Give as much information as possible to our residents through the large number of avenues we have open to us. These include newsletters and e-newsletters, TAP into Berkeley Heights, in-person community forums, and social media. Our township and the Communications Committee just won a statewide award for their videos on upcoming events in town – proof that we’re doing a better job communicating with residents.
  • Being open to criticism or dissent. Residents deserve the right to be heard and not be disregarded or dismissed.

Plus, the more we communicate with our residents, the more transparency they feel they are being given – the two go hand in hand. If we are truly making the right decisions for Berkeley Heights, there’s no reason to not be transparent and communicate the reasons for those decisions.

But how you govern should also be transparent. For example, this administration approved lists of qualified professionals at the beginning of the year, vetting each professional before they could work for the township – instead of just hiring as we go. This list was public and presented to Council for approval in January. I am also extremely impressed that we are now going through proper financial steps in having the Council pass resolutions to apply for and receive grants and grant money, to properly hire professionals to do specific jobs for the town, and to make sure enough money is set aside for large infrastructure projects the township has planned. This all not only makes for good governance, but great transparency.

Based on these criteria, Julie and I know that Team Purple has exceeded what transparency in local politics requires. There’s more than can be done, of course, and we’ll join the governing body with that goal in mind.

However,  these are some important changes I believe need to be made, and that I would focus on if elected.  These ideas can all be considered part of our definition of transparency.

We need to communicate with residents and be transparent about what we plan to do about:

  • Property taxes keep going up, due to factors we have no control over, meaning we can’t keep the budget flat without slashing critical services like police officers or road repair funding.
  • We need to better convey where our tax dollars are going; I will work with our CFO to try to develop a more user-friendly budget that is easy for residents to understand around budget season.
  • In any future redevelopment agreements, we need to include some sort of penalty when developers do not uphold their end of the agreements and get built on schedule. These agreements should be clear to the taxpayers what is coming, and what the residents may get in return (a Community Impact Fee, for example, to offset any negative conditions created by that project).
  • We also need less divisive, partisan politics in order to bring Berkeley Heights residents together to make more positive changes.

On a personal note, I will also focus on how we can use shared services to provide more savings for Berkeley Heights taxpayers. We should host a Shared Services Summit in 2020, bringing together other towns to share ideas and find out how we can work together more productively in future. Not every idea will be a good fit for Berkeley Heights but we should actively examine every one of them to see if they are.

I encourage everyone to read more about Julie and I, and our detailed plans for Change We Can Agree On at www.bhteampurple.com. Please vote for Julie Figlar & Rina Franchino for Township Council on November 5th, Column A. Thank you for your support!

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Rina Franchino (D): Week 2 Question

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Rina Franchino (D): Week 2 Question

Residents are concerned about rising taxes in Berkeley Heights. The tax bill is made up of numbers from the County, School and Township. The Township’s portion of the tax bill is the smallest. Many costs are out of the Council’s control with the rising cost of services and employee benefits. However, tax payers want to know how you will control the budget while maintaining and improving infrastructure issues and services and preparing for the future. Please explain your plan.

Julie Figlar and I realize how important it is to make every dollar count – we do it every day as working parents with children to raise. That’s why we support the fiscally responsible policies launched by Mayor Angie Devanney and her administration in 2019. Shared service agreements with Union County, such as sharing the use of our salt dome, will generate $1 million over the next 20 years, and having the same Public Works director, has saved taxpayers $70,000 while greatly improving the speed in which our DPW is getting things done.

These shared service agreements are working. When I’ve gone door to door, I’ve heard many residents tell me that they’re glad to see how many more roads and catch basins are being fixed – and they’re right. Streets are being swept, trees are being trimmed with the help of Union County, and more recycling services are being offered. If elected, I want to take the lead on examining opportunities for shared services in other areas, such as agreements to share the use of our wastewater treatment plant.  If agreements like these benefit our taxpayers while also making local government more efficient and effective, we should continue to examine possibilities like these.

Going forward, the Economic Development Committee that was recently created will enable Berkeley Heights to develop long-term, responsible growth in our downtown and the wider business community. Every dollar raised through commercial ratables is a dollar homeowners don’t have to pay in property taxes, and smart investments in areas like our wastewater treatment plant can lead to increased revenue.

In addition, we need to hold developers accountable.  Going forward, Julie and I will fight to include penalty clauses in any agreements on future redevelopment projects, fining developers if they don’t keep to their side of the agreements and build within the timetable agreed to in the redevelopment agreement.

While the Mayor and Township Council have control over only a small portion (18%) of our property tax bill, it still means we have the obligation to responsibly manage that portion. Julie Figlar and I will join the team of leaders that has been doing just that in 2019 and will continue to do that in the years to come. It’s why we ask for your vote for Berkeley Heights Township Council on November 5th.

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Rina Franchino (D): Week 1 Question

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Rina Franchino (D): Week 1 Question

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Each week leading to the November 5 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Democratic Township Council Candidate Rina Franchino for Week 1.

Week 1 Questions:

  • Why are you Running for Office?
  • What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the elected office you are seeking?
  • What do you think the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are at this time?

Why are you running for office?

Berkeley Heights is my hometown.  I’ve lived here for almost 30 years; my husband Frank and I chose to raise our family here – our daughter, Ava, and our son, Leo.  We have a huge investment in the future of our town.  In 2015, I ran for Council and lost by fewer than 100 votes.  Quite simply, I ran then – and I’m running now – because I want to give back to my hometown and make it the best it can be for my children.

I believe in Team Purple and am an advocate of Democrats and Republicans coming together to make our community even better.  Our motto – “Change We Can Agree On” – is about a collaborative government that respects our residents and seeks to put an end to the caustic political tone that divides our community.  It’s about creating positive change free of partisanship, as we work together to bring more services to our town at lower costs, improve our quality of life, and manage tough challenges together.

What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the council?

As an educator, my job requires me to have the ability to listen to and learn about new ideas and policies, patience and understanding of what others think and feel, careful time management, and being a positive role model for children – all of which are important skills for serving in local government.  I am passionate about shared services and working with neighboring communities. We have seen great results from sharing services with Union County on both the salt dome and the Public Works Director.  The salt dome shared service agreement will bring in a $1 million over 20 years and by sharing the DPW Director, BH taxpayers are saving $70,000 a year.

I want to serve as the Council’s point person to give shared services the attention it deserves, such as:

  • Pushing for BH to host a shared services summit in 2020, inviting neighboring township officials and department heads, shared service experts, and other experts so we can find ways to work together.
  • This year, the State appointed two Shared Service Czars and allocated $10 million for collaborative efforts in New Jersey. Berkeley Heights needs to engage these czars so we can be at the front of the line when it comes to obtaining grant money.
  • Specifically in Berkeley Heights, we should look to partner with our neighboring towns to expand senior citizen programming.  In addition, we need to analyze and update our sewer agreements with neighboring towns to ensure we are receiving adequate amounts of revenue for services we are providing them.
  • Working with Union County to identify ways we can preserve green space in our town.  There are only a few acres of land that can’t be built upon by developers, making it critically important to do all we can to preserve and create open space.

Shared services will promote fiscally responsible policies that will make communities like ours more affordable, especially for senior citizens who want to continue living here after they retire.

What do you think the major issues facing the town are at this time?

Residents for too long haven’t seen enough services coming to them for their hard-earned tax dollars. Under the leadership of Team Purple, Berkeley Heights has enacted new significant measures to reduce unnecessary waste of taxpayer dollars, including “triggers” on previously open-ended contracts that require contractors to demonstrate the need for additional funding. They have saved tens of thousands in taxpayer dollars with smart, shared service agreements with Union County that have helped us pave roads, introduced new environmental programs, and implemented better communicating with residents. Going forward, we need leaders who will build on this record.

Also, with all the forthcoming development projects, it is important to keep them on track and on time. PILOT revenue to be generated from those already-planned redevelopment projects is supposed to help pay off the municipal complex debts and offset the costs of other services needed to accommodate more residents. As of now, there is no “hammer” with which the town can use to ensure developers move quickly on their projects.  Julie and I have proposed that any future (re)development agreements include penalties for if/when developers do not meet certain project deadlines.

This is the positive vision that Julie Figlar and I will bring to the Council if elected on November 5th.

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Julie Figlar (D): Week 1 Question

Get to know Berkeley Heights Township Council Candidate Julie Figlar (D): Week 1 Question

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Each week leading to the November 5 election, the candidates running for Berkeley Heights Township Council have the opportunity to answer question(s) that will be run in a series by TAPinto Berkeley Heights.

The following answer is from Democratic Township Council Candidate Julie Figlar for Week 1.

Week 1 Questions:

  • Why are you Running for Office?
  • What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the elected office you are seeking?
  • What do you think the major issues facing Berkeley Heights are at this time?

Why are you running for office?

Earlier this year, my daughter asked me a question about what was going to happen to the Mondelli property across from Town Hall, and whether it was going to be a park. After inquiring with Mayor Angie Devanney, and learning it was going to be a small park along with some housing units, I realized I needed to roll up my sleeves and be part of the team that is working to ensure our town develops in a responsible way that benefits our community. I realized that I could play an important role in making Berkeley Heights an even a better town for my three daughters to grow up in.  That’s why I’m running for Township Council.

Together with Rina Franchino, I want to join Team Purple to bring about more Change We Can Agree On. We are running a positive, issues-driven campaign that focuses on how we can make Berkeley Heights government work better for everyone, building on the record of accomplishments already made in Year One.

What unique skills or knowledge will you bring to the council?

Understanding our community and the needs of our residents is something I value and live every day. As educators and involved mothers of young children in town, Rina and I interact daily with members of  community – listening to your concerns, getting feedback on what you feel needs improvement, and how you want to make this town better for our children. Whether it is on the sports fields, at PTO events, neighborhood barbeques, the dance studio, Girl Scouts events or even the grocery store, we are part of the fabric that makes Berkeley Heights great.  Running for Council was a decision we made because we are here for the long run, and we’re ready to get to work!

What do you think the major issues facing the town are at this time?

There’s no doubt that our town could use more passive and active recreational space for our residents of all ages. Cultivating and developing current and future recreation space is a priority for me. It isn’t just about fields for our children, it’s also about having passive open air spaces such as walking and biking trails that all residents can enjoy, including our senior citizens.

I want to become the Township Council’s point person in tackling these changes and implement a plan during my first 24 months in office. This plan will include:

    • Establishing a formal joint taskforce to ensure repairs and improvements of our fields takes place.
    • Create a Recreation Maintenance fund which could receive contributions from the PAL, Board of Education and the town.  Additionally, monies raised from fees levied from future development can help fund recreation maintenance for the next 20 years.
    • Help ensure a new turf baseball field will be completed in 2020 at Snyder Park
    • Look for alternative additional options for field space by conducting an inventory of undeveloped land throughout Berkeley Heights
    • Include walking and biking trails in that inventory with an eye towards making them wider, safer, and more enjoyable.

In addition, our motto,  “Change We Can Agree On,” means no longer neglecting our aging infrastructure, not being afraid to tackle tough problems like our municipal debt head-on, looking for any and all sources of additional revenue to fund much-needed road or drainage projects, doing away with antiquated approaches to increasingly complex challenges, coming up with creative ways to offer more services for our taxpayers, and so much more. It means overseeing smart development in a way that works for our town.

But perhaps most importantly, “Change We Can Agree On” means working together with YOU to make Berkeley Heights a town we are all proud to call home.

‘Change We Can Agree On’ Means Better Senior Services

By JULIE FIGLAR & RINA FRANCHINO

‘Change we can agree on’ means changing how we perceive our seniors. Our seniors have built Berkeley Heights on their backs —now it’s our turn to give back to them.

Township Leadership means that we are tackling the three most important needs of senior living: 1) health 2) wellness, and 3) socialization.

We must strive to create programs exclusively for our senior population whether you live independently in your home, in age restricted housing, participate in seniors’ clubs and organizations or simply looking to take advantage of community programs.

Health – Studies show seniors need to be healthy to age in place. Walking and movement improve seniors’ independence, life expectancy and also improves cognitive function. That’s why we are proposing partnering with the County to develop walking paths along the Passaic River. Further, we would work to help create a separate, “seniors only” trail that would allow for slower movement, like walking, as opposed to running or biking.

Wellness – Once our Municipal Complex is completed, we propose investigating programs ranging from yoga to line dancing by rewriting our Community Development Block Grant, utilizing federal funds we currently receive, to include funding for these programs.

Socialization— Giving our seniors an opportunity to socialize and congregate fights isolation, depression and memory loss, while supporting brain health. That’s why it is important to provide town-wide social events like a “Valentine’s Day Bingo” party, “Seniors Rock- Block Party” or “Give Thanks to our Seniors Thanksgiving Bonanza” sponsored by the Township. This will seek to engage all of our seniors, but it is going to take all of us doing our part to volunteer to help make this happen.

Recently, we were happy to learn the Mayor and Township Council took quick action in forming a Berkeley Heights Senior Citizens Advisory Board, but there is more work to be done. Many surrounding towns offer great senior citizen programs and if elected, we are eager to learn from our neighbors and even partner with them to make our community the best it can be. We look forward to working with our senior community.

 

Bringing People Together for Progress: Julie Figlar on Sports and Recreation

Bringing People Together for Progress: Julie Figlar on Sports and Recreation

By JULIE FIGLAR

One of the many reasons my husband Jason and I chose to move to Berkeley Heights was to start and raise a family in a town with the wonderful quality of life it offered.  (Being a teacher in our great school district didn’t hurt either!)  Now, Rina Franchino and I are raising our young families in Berkeley Heights and are committed to the long term prosperity of our town.  With our young children all actively involved in sports and the community, we see areas where Berkeley Heights can be even better!

For years, leaders have talked about improving the quality of our fields and offering additional recreational opportunities.  There is no doubt that our Recreation Department and Commission does a great job with their given resources, and the County continues to be generous in providing grant funds.  Just this year, thanks to the new leadership of Mayor Angie Devanney and Team Purple, we’re finally seeing some progress with the fast tracking of the turf replacement at the Snyder Park’s multi-purpose field and an overall improvement in field maintenance resulting from the restructuring of the Department of Public Works (DPW).

However, we need to take the next step in truly improving our fields and recreation facilities – for residents of all ages.  As Mayor Devanney said in her campaign last year, progress can only come from leadership that brings together the different stakeholders: the PAL, the Recreation Commission, Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club, the Township, the Board of Education (BOE) and the County of Union.  We can’t afford to be in separate “silos” anymore; we must pool our collective resources, knowledge and experience and prioritize a long-term plan to improve and increase our playing fields and recreational opportunities.

If elected, I propose that we add a non-voting Council member to the Recreation Commission.  That member will be responsible for reporting on fields and recreation during Township Council meetings, helping ensure our elected officials are well aware of plans being discussed to make these much-needed improvements. This will also allow our local leaders – from the top down – to help secure the money and resources to meet our recreation goals.  For us to make considerable progress and improve our fields to the level of our neighboring towns, we need to get out of our silos. Improved coordination and communication is the key to success in the next decade.  This non-voting Council member will be the key to ensuring all relevant stakeholders are on the same page and are “all in” on each and every recreation project. This “power in numbers”  will allow us to make progress like never before.

I would like to become that “point person” on Council and take on the changes we need to make for Berkeley Heights’ sports and recreation venues to be worthy of our quality of life (and the taxes we pay for that quality of life). Here are some examples of additional things we can do:

  • Establish a formal joint taskforce to ensure repairs and improvements of our sports fields takes place. This coalition of stakeholders would partner with groups like the Grants Committee to obtain additional funding for upgrades (covers for dugouts, new/repaired fencing, landscaping, bathrooms etc.).
  • Help to ensure a new turf baseball field to be completed in 2020 at Snyder Park.
  • Actively look for alternative, additional options for field space by conducting an inventory of undeveloped land throughout Berkeley Heights; approach landowners about the possibility of converting or using for sport fields or passive recreational space.
  • Conduct an inventory of walking and biking paths throughout Berkeley Heights with an eye towards making them wider, safer, and more enjoyable for our residents to use.  We will also work with the County on property they own to create, compliment and connect with Berkeley Heights properties.

Rina Franchino and I are proud to be running a positive, issues-driven campaign.  We’re focusing on doing everything we can to build upon the progress seen in Berkeley Heights’ government in 2019. You can learn more about us and the rest of our ideas for Progress We Can Count On at www.bhteampurple.com or by emailing us at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively. You can also find us on Facebook at Julie & Rina 4 BH.

‘Change We Can Agree On’ Means Coming Together

‘Change We Can Agree On’ Means Coming Together

This election is about a style of government.  It’s not about a party label or control.  “Team Purple” advocates Democrats and Republicans coming together throughout town to make our community even better.  With the Republican Party unfortunately choosing to repeat the mudslinging tactics of the Republican ticket in 2018, we want to reemphasize our commitment to running a clean, positive campaign that focuses not only on what Team Purple has done in 2019 but what we will do as part of that team if elected. That is what our team’s slogan, Change We Can Agree On was and is all about.

Change We Can Agree On is about a collaborative government that respects our residents and seeks to put an end to the caustic political tone that continues to divide our community. It’s about creating positive change free of partisanship, as we work together to bring more services to our town at lower costs, improve our quality of life, and manage tough challenges together.  It’s an inclusive approach which embodies:

  • Our leaders working together across party lines
  • Respecting our rich heritage
  • Capturing the spirit of our younger population
  • Placing value on what our elders have given to this community
  • Embracing our diversity and welcoming all voices
  • Ensuring an open and transparent government

Change We Can Agree On means no longer neglecting our aging infrastructure, not being afraid to tackle tough problems like our municipal debt head-on, looking for any and all sources of additional revenue to fund much-needed road or drainage projects, doing away with antiquated approaches to increasingly complex challenges, coming up with creative ways to offer more services for our taxpayers, and so much more.

But perhaps, most importantly, Change We Can Agree On means working together with YOU to make Berkeley Heights a town we are all proud to call home. That means making town government more open and transparent so that residents can see positive change happening for themselves.

Together, we can change Berkeley Heights politics for the better and ensure more open, transparent government at Town Hall.

Shared Services: Smart Ways to Save Money While Continuing the Progress

Shared Services: Smart Ways to Save Money While Continuing the Progress

BY RINA FRANCHINO

As a candidate for Township Council along with Julie Figlar, I am proud to see how Team Purple, lead by our Mayor, Angie Devanney has practiced what they preached when it comes to running a fiscally responsible government. Sharing services is one area which can yield great results in both saving dollars and providing the same level or even increased services. Berkeley Heights needs a Council member who will lead the effort to identify every available option when it comes to sharing resources, and who will weigh the pros and cons in pursuing such options.  I will make this my top priority if elected.

We have already seen great results from two new particular shared service initiatives this year.  The first is sharing our salt dome with Union County; this will bring in tens of thousands of dollars in new revenue every year by having the County contribute.  The second, to bring on former DPW Director Joe Graziano (now serving in a similar role in Union County) as our temporary, part-time Director, is saving taxpayers $70,000 a year, while leading to a much more efficient Public Works Department that is getting more work done than recent years.  More roads are being paved, more trees are being trimmed, potholes are getting repaired more quickly, basin repairs are finally getting done,  and our drainage issues are finally being addressed with short and long term improvement plans.

There are many other ideas out there that could – emphasis on could – benefit our town while protecting the quality of our services. I want to serve as the Council’s “point person” on shared services in order to give this topic the attention it deserves.  As a working mother of two, I understand how important it is to make every dollar count, both at home and as a teacher in the classroom.  It’s the same concept at the municipal level.

This year, the State appointed two Shared Service Czars and allocated $10 million for collaborative shared services throughout New Jersey. The money will fund grants and efforts to smooth over the “rough spots” of contention that prevent some towns from working together, as well as feasibility studies for municipalities considering collaborating.  We need to engage these czars (one who is former Mayor of Summit, Jordan Glatt) to get advice and help provide assessments.  Funding supports local units’ shared services efforts; there is additional funding available to support one-time costs incurred during government consolidation efforts.  Berkeley Heights should be at the front of the line.

To that end, if elected I will push for Berkeley Heights to host a shared service “summit” in 2020, inviting neighboring township officials, shared services experts, neighboring department heads, and others to share ideas, offer advice, and examine ways towns can work together to save money without impacting the quality of the service we provide our residents. Berkeley Heights can play a major role in promoting fiscally responsible policies that will make communities like ours more affordable, especially for senior citizens who want to continue living here after they retire.

I also want to work with Union County to identify ways we can pool our efforts to preserve green space in our town. There are only a few acres of land that can’t be built upon by developers making it critically important that we do all we can to preserve and create open space. Shared service programs may be a way to do that. Finally, I want to work with the newly formed Grants Committee to seek money from various state and county programs where shared services may come into play.  Programs such as the Union County Kids Recreational Trust Fund grants need to be utilized to their maximum extent so that we can leverage our tax dollars.

Julie and I care about making Berkeley Heights the best it can be. As longtime residents, parents, and community leaders, we will work with the rest of Team Purple to promote fiscally responsible government, maximizing our tax dollars without hurting township services. That is Progress We Can Count On! For more about our campaign visit us on Facebook at Rina & Julie 4 BH. Please feel free to email me at [email protected]with any questions or comments.

See you around town! – Rina

Progress We Can Count On

Progress We Can Count On

By JULIE FIGLAR and RINA FRANCHINO

As the Team Purple candidates for Township Council, we’re proud to ask for your support to keep making Progress We Can Count On in Berkeley Heights by electing Julie Figlar and Rina Franchino to Council.

Understanding our community and the needs of our residents is something we value and live every day.  We interact daily with our younger population and as mothers of young children we listen and talk to our community continually, whether it is on the sports fields, at PTO events, neighborhood barbeques, at the dance studio, Girl Scouts or even in the grocery store, we are part of the fabric that makes Berkeley Heights great.  Running for Council was a decision we made because we are here for the long run, and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

When Mayor Angie Devanney and Team Purple took charge in January, Berkeley Heights was facing tremendous challenges.  We are proud to stand behind their record of accomplishments in year one including:

  • Keeping costs under control;
  • Cutting waste;
  • Fixing more roads with grants and alternative financing for repairs;
  • Building a bi-partisan group of committee volunteers;
  • Adding new committees to address critical needs, boosting environmental and historic preservation efforts as top priorities, and much more.

Together, we can do even more – we’re ready to join Team Purple and deliver Progress We Can Count On! We’re running a positive, issues-driven campaign that focuses on how we can make Berkeley Heights government work better for everyone, building on the accomplishments made by Team Purple in 2019. Here are some of our specific ideas to do this:

  • Host a “Shared Service Summit” in 2019, inviting neighboring township officials, shared services experts, neighboring department heads, and other stakeholders.
  • Refine the Township Master Plan to include specific plans for revitalizing our downtown, using the township’s citizen and business committees as a focal point.
  • Appoint a Council “point person” to lead the coalition of residents and stakeholders involved in our Sports and Recreation programs to create an action plan with a timetable.
    • This would include incorporating our commitment to improvement of fields and recreation spaces as part of a Parks & Recreation Master Plan, as well as any long-term infrastructure plans and working to create more walking/biking/jogging trails along the Passaic River.
  • Develop a 5-year budget forecast and a 5-year ratable forecast, both being essential for long-term planning needs.
  • Conduct a professional Management Study in 2020 to find additional cost savings and efficiencies which would complement our budget and ratable forecast.
  • Continue to evaluate the feasibility of shared service agreements on services such as 9-1-1 emergency dispatch.
  • Ensure that any future (re)development agreements include penalties for if/when developers do not meet certain project deadlines.
  • Work closely with Union County to preserve green space in our town.
  • Together with the Environmental Commission and our business community, enact a ban on businesses providing plastic bags/straws to customers, joining the growing movement across New Jersey for environmentally sustainable policies.
  • Pass an ordinance ensuring all establishments in Berkeley Heights that serve food to print in their menu when/if their food is cooked in any sort of highly allergenic substance, such as nut-based oil (peanut, coconut, etc.).

This is just the beginning.  You can read about these ideas and others in greater detail on our website www.BHTeamPurple.com (to be live by September 15). We also welcome your ideas and questions, so please shoot us an email at [email protected] and [email protected], respectively. Our platform will continue to grow and be updated as our campaign unfolds.  Stay tuned to our website and our Facebook page, Julie and Rina 4 BH (facebook.com/bh4all) for updates as we get closer to Election Day, Tuesday, November 5th.

Thanks for your support and we look forward to seeing you!

– Julie Figlar and Rina Franchino, Team Purple