Category: Campaign

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