Town Elections 2

So I got permission from a Moderator that I could try and start a new thread and hopefully people are able to stay on topic and not go for personal attacks, we'll see:

With the election just over a week away and the Democrat candidate still not willing to debate the other 2 candidates I feel it is important to get the facts out so voters can make an informed decision based on facts rather than based on misleading information that may or not be going around. So, let's look at the facts:

Fact #1: The town is debt free, which only a few towns in the entire state can make claim to. But you may be asking yourself if the town is debt free why are my taxes going up? Well 1) the town only is in charge of 21% of your property tax bill, the rest goes to the county and the BOE. 2) Avg town taxes in Hackettstown are $1,700 and went up $13.65/ year in 2018 or $1.13/mo. In 2019 the avg town taxes went up $35/year or $2.92/mo. The reason for those minor increases is simple, there are some things in the budget the town cannot control just like with our own home budget:

Heating, electrical rates increases will cause those line items to increase. But the biggest one is medical insurance premiums. Those rates skyrocketed in 2019 and caused that line item to increase almost $65k.

The town also has built up a large Capital Improvement fund so that if any major projects or purchases for the town are needed, we are a “pay as you go” town which means the town can pay for those items without issuing debt in the form of bonds which would take years to pay off.

Please look at the town budget that is available on the town website to see exactly where the taxes are going and see the financial strength the town is in. Kudos to those who made that happen.


Jim L,

Why do you think the School and County part goes up? What would you do to get them more like the modest Town increases if you were a board member or a freeholder? Any thoughts?

Jim King
2 weeks ago

I applaud Hackettstown for not only being debt-free, but having a large capital improvement fund.

Question: our HHS is mediocre at best. Granted NJ is number 2 in the nation, so mediocre may still mean something. While one study ranks us 190th in NJ, it also ranks us #5,513 out of 17,425 nationwide --- better than our rating within number 2 NJ, but still pretty mediocre.

Given, like a loan, our children represent an asset with pay-offs for our future, I wonder ----- what capital funds have been used over the past five years to improve the educational facility technology grade for HHS?

In the budgets, I see a lot of buildings falling apart, with budgets to fix often failing and contingency cost cutting measures to make the grade, but I can not find where we purchase anything, bonded or via your capital improvement fund, to enhance our mediocre rating via better learning equipment and state-of-the-art teaching tools. Probably just missed it. Do anyone know of our history there?

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/new-jersey/districts/hackettstown-public-schools/hackettstown-high-school-12565

strangerdanger strangerdanger
2 weeks ago

Jim, can you tell me what the proposed date and time of the debate was. Thanks.


I get to see plenty of schools throughout NJ as my daughter cheers competitively. We pale in comparison to some of the schools I've seen. Massive, with high end gyms and seating. Plenty of room to roam the halls and new looking overall.

What do towns like Hunterdon, West Morris, and the like do differently? How are they able to afford such wonderful looking schools that seem modern, accommodating and not dated with an overdue leaky roof?


The debate was supposed to be tomorrow morning (10/29), but since Mark declined to be a part of it, there will be no debate. WRNJ didn't think there was a point to have the debate with just the 2 Republican candidates on it. Perhaps you can ask him why he elected not to do the debate.


OK, is this thread about the town, or the schools ?


Gman,

Both based on the content of the OP.

Jim King
2 weeks ago

Fact #2

The town has 70 roads that make up roughly 30miles of roadway. The town is 100% self sufficient when it comes to repaving. It does not reply on state grants that are highly competitive and almost impossible to plan for. Instead the town’s DPW identities roads in need of repair and the town budgets to complete roughly 5-7 roads per year based on their length.

In the past 5 years alone the town has replaced 31 roads or nearly half of all roads in town. The roads last between 15-20 years and every road gets repaved on avg every 12 years. If HMUA does water line work on a road then they will pay half of the cost to repave the road. The money comes out of the Capital Improvement fund and is done so without increasing municipal taxes

Another way the town is fiscally responsible.


Just asking; how is it fiscally responsible to be unable to take advantage of grants? I can understand contingency for failure but to not reply on grants is incompetence. To not win is uncompetitive. And if you meant rely, I would still say if you can’t win a grant, if you can’t pay any debt service; certainly you are not financially savvy. Like being debt free is seemingly more important than paying low interest debt service in order to improve a mediocre school today lasting for the next generation.

Don’t see our schools as much of a calling card right now. Mediocre. Run down. You get what you pay for and we certainly aren’t paying for schools that attract up worldly, mobile, families.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
2 weeks ago

My point was waiting on Grants to pave roads is unreliable. It’s very competitive and if you look where the state sends most of the grant money it is on the east side of the state. The town applies but has a contingency plan in place for when we don’t get it awarded. Having the money in the budget allows the town to do the projects without having to bond or wait years for grant money.

Main Street streetscape and e prospect Ave are 2 examples of grant money that we received recently

But yes more grants and state aid are always welcomed and the town has really focused on it the last few years. We formed a grant committee that searches for and applies for grants to help the tax payers. The one downside to being debt free and in strong financial shape is we don’t qualify for many grants. As the town grant writer I can tell you it’s hard when the state and federal look at your financials and says you can pay for it yourself.

And I’m strictly talking in the town side. If someone wants to discuss the BOE side they can, I can only provide facts regarding the town.


.
(e) A screening committee, composed of municipal engineers representing a cross section of New Jersey, and Department staff, shall review the recommendations. The screening committee will recommend to the Commissioner which projects should receive funding and the associated funding amount. In developing the recommendations, consideration shall be given, as applicable, to existing road conditions, volume of traffic, safety, service to the public, future need, readiness to construct, local taxing capacity.

The last one is the one that actually hurtS our town’s chances of getting the grant. We technically have the capacity to raise local taxes so the state scores us as low in the need category. The more debt you have and higher your taxes the more likely to get the grants. So the state rewards the spenders and punishes the fiscally responsible. Seems backwards but then again this is jersey. Lol


Jim, you stated that the capital improvement fund is used to pay for major projects or purchases for the town. Is that fund also supposed to include expenses for the schools?
What does the 57% school tax portion of our taxes cover?


The town's budget does not include the schools. They have their own 32million dollar budget.

57% of our property taxes go to the BOE, I would reach out to them to see where that money is going and what kind of capital improvement fund they have.


Jim L

Does the town not have a say in how the 32 million is spent?

Retired Retired
1 week ago

none what so ever Retired. 2 seperate entities with 2 seperate budgets.


Again it is very important to understand the breakdown of your property taxes:

20.55% goes to the town of Hackettstown
1.09% goes to Town Library

56.34% goes to the school

21.05% goes to the county
0.98% goes to county open space.

The Town council only has control over the town's portion of the taxes. Last year the town's portion went up for the avg homeowner $35/year. in 2018 it went up $13.65/year.

In comparison the BOE's portion of our property taxes went up $131/year in 2019 and $162/year in 2018 and for the average homeowner.


Jim L - Even with all of the BOE tax increases, year after year, school districts still expect referendums to be passed to pay for additional items and repairs. When will it ever be enough? It's maddening!

Calico696 Calico696
1 week ago

Our BOE is an embarrassment. Mango is a joke and there aren't enough duck races to cover the costs. I know a few people who have served on that board and what stories they had to share.


Thank you for your reply, Jim. I wasn't sure how BOE gets its funding. So it appears the issues at HHS should have been addressed long ago through the BOE budget as they receive the largest portion of our taxes as well as annual increases, rather than expect the town to pay even more for repairs.
Seems we need to vote for more fiscally responsible BOE members.


No Calico, it will never be enough. That’s the nature of progress. That’s the nature of use. Everything needs fixin, especially the nation’s future, our children.

Remember, it takes a village....;-)

What’s often important is what you get for your money. In your case, you’re in debt and don’t have much return to show for it. Worse yet, they want more. Oxford, as you noted and I proved, has a debt problem. It appears HHS doesn’t spend squat, has little debt, and gets mediocre results for their lack of investment. Schools look the same as when I went....and I am a boomer. Worse yet, they spend on things that fall apart before their time so one could see not wanting to open the purse if they are going to throw it away anyway.

LD: and fiscally adept citizens who actually believe education of children is good for the community. Hackettstown needs to figure out how to become excellent and convince people the value of that and to open up it’s purse to move beyond mediocre.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

Sample Ballots are out today!

Phil D. Phil D.
1 week ago

So it looks like Janis Meichsner is in the ballot. She didn’t run for the primary, Nicole Wolfrum did and won but then took herself out of the running. So the Dems I guess got to replace her. They chose Janis yet Janis has done nothing to campaign. No signs not mailers no debate.

Hopefully people vote for the person(s) most dedicated to the position.

I’m not even sure how she is on the sample ballot but not on the county election ballot.

http://www.co.warren.nj.us/CountyClerk/Download/2019%20Candidates%20for%20General%20Election.pdf


I highly doubt that putting on new roofs will make the schools move beyond mediocre. That being said, the school should have been putting away some funds on a yearly basis (as the town does) to pay for these expected repairs. It is not like the BOE didn’t know these were coming. Now the BOE is going to float a 4 million 15 year sinking fund bond or loan. The State (NJ Taxpayers) has said they will pick up most of the debt service payments. While I believe the deal is too good to pass up, the Board should be more responsible in the future by putting away some funds for expected or unexpected repairs. One thing for sure, your taxes for funding the school will only be going up as they have been for decades. My humble opinion of course.


The state will pick up 40% of the referendum. Local taxpayers will cover the rest. Since the roofs have to be replace due to lack of planning for the last 51years the local taxpayers will have to pay 100% if the referendum gets voted down. Which means either taxes go up or programs get cut or combo. Lose Lose lose situation.

Pick your poison


HHS holds a mediocre rating in a state that’s number 2 in the Nation. Very little debt. $1,000 per student. Under the national average. Under the NJ average. It’s like we delight in shortchanging our future.

Our buildings are crumbling, our students graduate with a mediocre education.

Maybe it’s time to invest a little in educating our future. Mediocre just doesn’t cut it for me.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

"The state will pick up 40% of the referendum."

Is that not our tax dollars too?

Calico696 Calico696
1 week ago

As you can see from the attached 2017 numbers, Warren County School Districts have some of the lowest spending per pupil in the state. Hackettstown comes in at $17,683, Great Meadows Regional $19,245, Allamuchy $17,847, Mansfield $16,636 and for Calico, Oxford $19,593. Out of the Top 10 in spending per pupil all are former Abbott School Districts except for one, Edison Township which is about equal with Hackettstown. Asbury Park spends $35,636 per pupil, would you want to live and send your kids to school there? You could move east and get a better education but with that comes much higher property taxes.

https://nj1015.com/the-most-and-least-expensive-school-districts-in-new-jersey/


Biting my tongue...


Elections and ballots often pit generations against one another. Sometimes old vs. young. Sometimes people with children vs those without children. Veterans vs non veterans. Homeowners vs renters. Urban vs suburban vs rural. Healthy vs unhealthy. Rich vs middle class vs poor. Educated vs less educated. Skilled vs unskilled. The list is endless. We are all in this together. Support children's education because like it or not they represent the best shot we have for a future vs enemies, potential foes and even our friends and allies. If the USA is to thrive let alone survive a balanced education and the things that contribute to it are worth the investment.


kb2755: Exactly right. BOE should have been allotting money each year for maintenance/repair etc. With their budget plus ongoing increases the issues should have been dealt with before they became major renovations. So annoying that dollars needed for student's education are being wasted on overly compensated administration and lack of planning by BOE.


Couldn’t agree more Jono. Both my kids went through Great Meadows schools and onto Hackettstown High. Both went on to College and are doing quite well for themselves. Independence Central School was built in the 1920’s I believe and has/had no air conditioning. Never heard the kids complain. School is what you make of it and having parents involved in your education is so important. I grew up in Brooklyn and the schools I attended were built around the same time as the Independence school. We might have complained that it was hot at the end of the school year but I don’t remember. I got a quality education and the NYC school system was top notch back in the day. Kids are resilient and are able to learn in any environment as long as they don’t have water on their desks from leaky roofs or having to step around crumbling building materials. More money is not the answer in my opinion. Enough from me.


+1 jono and stats say h-town ain’t no place for educating kids.

Calico, yes and if you forgo them, your taxes become someone else's 40%. You can’t have them back.... More important, HHS is clearly underfunded on either a regional, state or national comparison. .

Same with grants. If you don't or can’t get them, someone else does.

It’s a use it or lose it world sometimes.

Think one guy running has a financial background. The others got smack. Not sure the mayor even has a resume....

So JimL; we get that your candidates want zero spending, zero debt. Do they plan to increase revenues. How? Development? What kind? Any other ideas?

Or do they advocate zero growth too? Sure seem to be trying to reduce school age families....m

And about streetscape... think that was profittable?

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

"Or do they advocate zero growth too?"

The town is maxed out. there are no more lots to build on. The QC, Wawa, Bergen tool, and Bilby Road were the last remaining undeveloped sites in town. They all have approved site plans for them so once they get built the town is done.

Next would be if owners on Main Street want to remodel or knock down and start over on their lot, but as far as new development that's all folks.


So, zero debt, zero spending, tax increase cola only, zero growth, —- not exactly a visionary message. Mediocre schools, has to use green acres to get a pool, can’t get grants, won’t improve schools, not exactly the plan to attract new blood. More like circling the drain. No wonder our housing values are where they are.

What is the mayor’s claim to fame? Does he even have a resume?

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

did i say zero spending zero growth?

The town spends where needed. And the town has attracted developers to develop on all the available lots. Once those lots get built then the revenue to the town will increase.

And the Mayor is a female. something you would probably know if you actually lived in Hackettstown SD :)

And you keep mixing the BOE and the town, talk to the BOE what they are doing to improve their schools and get their rankings up.


so SD just assumes the Mayor is a male, interesting. She's only been the Mayor since 2011 and is finishing her 3rd term as Mayor.


"Can't get grants" is also very incorrect. The original statement was they didn't budget for them because there is so much competition. But that doesn't mean they don't come through. In fact there are a lot more grants that Hackettstown has received in other areas where they have been very successful.


The town has recieved plenty of grants but they also have contengency plan in place in case the grants fall through.

Tannery field, town owned field that is getting totally remodelled thanks: to a grant, our rec dept ( thanks non-resident pool guests), centenary and a large private donation. All being redone without a single taxpayer dollar spent.

The BID got a new toro to water the flowers via grant.

Main Streetscape funded by grant.

Police and Fire equipment funded by grants ( vote for Jada!)

Highlands grants for the land use board

Can we get more grants, of course, do we try yes. We applied for 2 Assistance to Fireman Grants through FEMA this past year and will try again this year. But to rely on them as a way to fund the town is unrealistic.


I'd love to see that dilapidated building on main street knocked down and replaced - the one near East Plane st. While there's a few on mainstreet that need some work, this one is a true eyesore.

I'm also glad to see my big issue from last cycle has been addressed: no more comic sans on hackettstown.net

But the new site, CivicPlus seems expensive. The town could likely save more than 10k a year by hosting on WordPress. I'd have to see how much they actually spend on it, of course, and the first year cost could be higher with the need to build a new site and export data.
If someone wants to try to save the town some money, the cost of this system should be looked into.

alpha1beta alpha1beta
1 week ago

the old barbeshop has been an ongoing legal battle for years.


No body ran against the Mayor. That’s unfortunate. That’s why she has been there so long. BTW SD she is a local banker.

Pampurr Pampurr
1 week ago

For context, know that the BOE must keep spending increases under 2% or go to referendum. judging by the scholars on this forum, it would get voted down every time.

To my knowledge, all the funds not allocated to the students, operations and Salaries are utilized on Facilities Maintenance and upgrades.

There is normally little room under that 2% to allocate money for future major capex.

Old debt is coming off the books which will cancel out the town's 40% share of these new expenses. It will be a wash on future tax bills.

Jim L - throwing the Schools under the bus is petty. Why didn't you run for BOE this year and get them to implement your plan while you're waiting for your next shot at Council? My guess is that the BOE has already looked at different options and went this way for a reason.

People can't complain about the schools and then b***ch about spending money to upgrade them.

Barnacle Bill
1 week ago

Thanks for the update JimL; gotta think about it; good to see some grants, got values?

Throttle down Bill; it’s a discussion.

Good points Bill. And the debt service falls outside the 2% cap which again points to a pretty good financial reason to carry some debt. That, plus a 40% kicker from the state really makes one question WHY wouldn’t we kick in and benefit from 40% off and low interest? And I’m not talking roofs; I’m talkin science, software, and engineering labs...equipment, tools, computers, labs.....

Let’s do the math. Where’s my chainsaw....Ok, take one mediocre education, invest in new tools, get 40% off, pay low interest, profit from smarter kids who get better jobs and schools plus attract young financially upwardly moving families who demand better schools, pay more taxes, spend more money. Yup.....it just might work if you have vision and can explain your plan.

I am old, my birds have flown, yet I am more than willing to invest in America’s future.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

Barnacle please tell me where I threw the BOE under the bus? Exact line.

And Pam the Mayor has already stated she is not running again once her term expires next year. Perhaps your husband would be interested in running since he is a long time resident and seems to be interested in the well being of the town. It will be interesting to see who run next year.


"The more debt you have and higher your taxes the more likely to get the grants. So the state rewards the spenders and punishes the fiscally responsible. Seems backwards but then again this is jersey. Lol"

This is actually a "feature" of our economic system, so it's not just NJ. And IMO is not funny at all...

justintime justintime
1 week ago

"economic system"

Nonsense. If it was economic there would be no human to decide and it would only be about a mathematical equation. It's 100% political as in the right people with the right letter behind their name and whether it gets them reelected or not. It's nothing but our political system for those still playing the us vs them death match. That's what's not funny.


Start here jiml--

"due to lack of planning for the last 51 years"

exact line


is that a compliment to all those unpaid BOE members in your opinion?

Jim King
1 week ago

It’s a fact. You want me to sugarcoat it to make you feel better? The school was opened in 1968 they didn’t plan for the past 51 years to budget for the roof to be replaced?


under the bus. great leadership style. classy.

Jim King
1 week ago

"BOE members" - which ones Jim King, yours or ours?


Same town JL is talking about

Jim King
1 week ago

Maybe they planned to float a bond?

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

"Nonsense"

GC, I assumed that you were the one who green-lighted this topic as long as it stayed nice. Guess I was mistaken.

Regardless, it almost sounds like you're saying that debt - the debt part of "debt based monetary system" - has nothing to do with the system whose name actually includes the word?

No matter, my intent wasn't to distract the thread other than to point out that it shouldn't be surprising that taking on more debt is encouraged in our society because, in a debt based economy, shrinking debt means removing money from the system. And that was, after all, what the 2008 bailouts were all about - preventing contraction of our debt-based money supply.

You could argue that no one thinks that way, and I agree. But that doesn't mean that the incentives we are exposed to (grants for instance, which is on topic) aren't put in place specifically to prevent contraction and encourage expansion. They do precisely that, and do it very well...

justintime justintime
1 week ago

Back to JL’s grant post and GC commentary. Sorry to wrinkle feathers, trying to understand, not be overly aggressive. .

First --- what did you think of the Streetscape project? Did it profit Main Street? Was it worth the investment, IYO? My guess would be that it did profit Main Street, was worth every cent, but realize you would know more than I on this one, fer sure.

Back to my rant…. JL: sure sounds like you/council focus of zero spending and zero growth --- for example, I think you had said no developable land… I don’t believe that’s true, you later said the same, but seems our candidates have no plan, no vision on development. Seem to rely on balanced budgets and no debt as their plan. There's other stuff, we know we screwed the pooch on the Historic District zoning, how we develop is important, more so if there's no developable land. Since this is an election, I think it’s fair to ask what candidates think.

You note Gillan’s not debating a flaw: I agree. He has, facebook, with his ideas and quasi-platform. I am wondering if any other candidate has a website to see their ideas, platforms, accomplishments, and resumes. Does not jump out. That's worse than not debating, IMO.

I have actually met the mayor, should have remembered. I assumed nothing, I forgot something. I default to the male pronoun as proper grammar. “It” seems less preferable but if it prefers…..:)

Not mixing BOE w/ council --- IMO, part and parcel of the same thought process, part and parcel of the same local governance, which I admit, is driven by the voters. However, that’s government’s job --- educate and lead the voters. Not passive acceptance of a just-say-no shortcoming.

Anyone know what these candidates think? I have read Gillan’s and his resume is not impressive for the job, his ideas and motherhood and apple pie --- no specifics, just a “it stinks and I can do better.”

On to the grants: thanks for the grant info; have you got the values and dates? What I see is from 2008 to 2019, H-town got about $180,000 in Federal Grants, the lion’s share, $174K, was for Hazard Mitigation from Federal DHS passthrough to NJ Dept of Public Safety, about $15K left available by 2019, everything else spent before that. Virtually all of Federal grants were $0 rated by 1/19 being spent previously.

From 2011 to the beginning of 2019, H-town got under $250K from State Grants, most of which are drained, with about $30K available for this year.

You’re right; NJ gets zip in Federal grants, anything H-town gets is doing well. Basically, NJ, via the Fed, gives grants to other states. Our Fed grants are more in the welfare area, and even there we give more, get less. Darned higher median income, darned it takes a village. But we have to pursue because bluebirds like the Streetscape project do come along and that was a grant that everyone could get --- if they applied --- and we did ---- congrats.

On a state level, still working a real summary, however for 2018/2019 some projects. And herein seems to lie the rub….. Against this I find the "we can't compete," "it all goes to the east," and other laments not compelling. We just don't win the grants; that is certainly true. And our neighbors do --- kinda deflates the arguments poised thus far.

The $20M+ Bridge repair statewide grants, we got $0. For the approx. $10M for Safe Routes to School, we got $0. For the approx. $20M Transportation Alternative grant we got $0 ---- Greenwich got $780K. For the $1M bikeway - $0. $1M safe streets - $0. $1M Transit Village - $0.

Now the big one, the $161M state transportation grant affecting 95% of NJ municipalities with only 5% of NJ municipalities not receiving big money, we have many local winners ---- Alamoochy $121K, Belvidere $101K, Blairstown $156K, Indy $156K, Liberty $156K, Mansfield $156K, Oxford $156K. Washington $190K. Hackettstown $0. Bwhaaaaaaaat? Ever been jammed at the tunnel? Or shot the rapids at the East Ave chicane bridge? Pretty poor results to end up in the last 5%. Still think “can’t get grants,” is that far off the mark? Why did we end up in the last 5% on this one? Seems like low hanging Murphy fruit and we couldn’t pick.

I think my comment stands until corrected.

strangerdanger strangerdanger
1 week ago

"we know we screwed the pooch on the Historic District zoning, how we develop is important, more so if there's no developable land. Since this is an election, I think it’s fair to ask what candidates think"

Who is this "we" you speak of? Because "you" are not a Hackettstown resident.


Come on Jim, that's an unnecessary duck of the conversation. If you don't want to discuss, just don't. Because if you don't think I am a Hackettstowner, if you don't think my kids went to school in Hackettstown, if you don't think I spend most of my cash in my town of Hackettstown, if you don't think that I NEVER owned Hackettstown property -----> I think the fact I now live ten feet outside the town limits is close enough for government work. At least how you conduct it...…..bazinga.

I

strangerdanger strangerdanger
1 week ago

Jim L the master ducker. Stranger brings up some very good points. They must really sting too if you feel the need to duck and cover and blow smoke.


His long drawn out post are filled with so much misinformation one would need a SD length post just to correct them. But here are the cliff notes:

There is a development plan for the town. It's called the Master Plan that the Land Use Board updates it every 10 years. We (I was a part of it) just updated it in 2018. It identifies where the areas of need of redevelopment are in town and the goals for each district.

The BID is working on a project that if it comes through will be a big draw to the town.

No pooch was screwed with the Historical District. The homes on Mountain Ave were not Historical. Plain and Simple. Old yes, Historical no.

Yes Grant money is out there and the town has made efforts to get them. They are not easy, very time consuming and take alot of planning and money to acquire them. The Safe routes one is one that i have been trying to get. Met with my local reps at Trans Ops numerous times with both principals of Willow and Hatch to go after the grants. The Mayor and I have meet with Congressman Gottheimer and his staff numerous times to identify grants. He was kind enough to write a letter of recommendation for 2 First Responders grants we applied for in 2018 but we got denied the grant.

So i guess sitting at home typing away make one feel like a expert. But you have to actually put the effort in. Something SD would know nothing about.


Getting a little personal there, ain’t we.

The Master Plan as posted is a zoning map. That’s not a plan. And if voters read the rational for zoning changes in all the re-examinations, probably would vote out all land use board members. I mean they voted to expand the Hospital zoning as we lost our maternity ward. No one gets born in Htown; got to commute.

Bid rumors; good reason to vote. Do say it if you can’t explain it. Next you’ll be tweeting

Besides the name, what’s special about Historical Zoning in H-town? Think it’s an empty hat, could be wrong.

It seems clear, based on the results, the incumbents are not good at winning grants. You avoid most questions but come on, how did we blow a 95% chance of success? You just let that little beauty slide by. No ideas how they ended up in the 5% no win category? Every surrounding town/ship won.

So like said; do the candidates have plans, ideas, results and a web location to read them? Gillan has a site.....

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

Once again SD brings up very good points, and Jim L still dodging the grant issue.

Just keeping score.


The Master Plan is an actual plan. Breaks down each district and what the goals are for the future. What ordinances we want to implement ( ie outdoors seating on Main Street). What areas we would like to designate as areas of revelopment ( actual block and lots). It's a full report that took a year to complete with a lot of input for the Land Use Board members, engineer, town planner, the BID, property owners, and council.

I'll see where it is on the new website, they may have not added it. It was on the old one. It's a plan not a map. Every town has one and by law it has to be updated every 10 years.

Attend a BID meeting to see what they are working on.

You'll have to ask your buddy Bob who took my spot why they lost out on the road grants in 2019. What Grants did he apply for? if none, then why? Isn't that what he ran on?

But im sure everyone else is getting bored with this. Tell you what, come have coffee with me anytime you want. email: jimlambo@hotmail.com cell: 908-674-1889. Reach out.


https://www.highlands.state.nj.us/njhighlands/warren_county/hackettstown/2108_SM03_091208.pdf

quick search i found the 2008 Master Plan. I'll find out where the 2018 one is. But as you can see it's not a "zoning map" as you put it.


https://www.hackettstown.net/land-use/pages/documents

Here is where one would find it on our website, i will reach out to the people running the site to ask them to add 2018's Master Plan to the website.


"Tell you what, come have coffee with me anytime you want."

Hahaha. You'd have a better chance of meeting with the Easter bunny.

Jim is correct about it being the law for every township to have a master plan and that plan be updated every ten years.

Calico696 Calico696
1 week ago

Jim; that’s enough with the rude tude, dude. Up until now, I was just trying to provide some info I found. Calico, they update the plan all the time. Called reexamination. They incumbents have the competence to not post the 2018 version. 2012 and 2008 are up.

Jim, Why shift to Bob, he just got there. And he’s not running. Thought this was about the upcoming election? But yes, he beat you and all comers. He’s incompetent too, a smart guy, well intentioned, 100% inexperienced. Gives you an idea of the rest of the talent pool. Don’t think he’s raising the bar for grants. But that’s a red herring to your discussion.

I’m sorry to be so harsh but it's your topic; where’s any proof these candidates have the chops to progress our town. Don’t they have ideas, visions, real plans (not boilerplates filled out by an outsourced form filler charging us big bucks to copy/paste from their last job on a masterplan state form.)

It’s easy to balance a budget when balanced budgets are the law. Everyone in the state does it. I applaud the lack of debt but can’t they creatively come up with any investment that would add profit in the future? Like the Obama Stimulus Streetscape projects. I mean zero debt forever is a waste of assets. Shouldn’t we even consider leveraging our good credit against low interest and possible state kickers? I know if someone offered me 40% or similar off; I could find a profit for a lowest ever interest rate.

I always say, “don’t bother stressing on discovering why you win, but discover all known problems for correction when you lose. You can’t even discover why we lost a no-brainer 6- to 7-digit grant that 95% of NJ town/ships got including all our neighbors. Worse yet, as a pending future councilman, you don’t seem to want to know.

I would think that’s a bigger voting issue than a debate.

I agree, this horse is beat dead. Would like to see anything in writing, on a website, from any candidate beyond Gillan. His is posted. Not great, but posted.

Hey, fyi, how much do they get paid?

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

Sorry about the rude tude dude stuff.....my bad, you were fine. I was off. Buddy Bob stuff thin skinned me. My bad.

We’ve met before. You don’t remember :-). I used my real name. It was ......argh......comcast down....

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
1 week ago

https://www.hackettstown.net/land-use/pages/documents
https://www.hackettstown.net/sites/hackettstownnj/files/uploads/2018_hackettstown_reexamination_report_adopted_11-27-2018.pdf

2018 Master Plan has been added to the website. As you can see... what for it... its not a zoning map as SD called it.

So again while Mark may have a facebook page, what he lacks is Facts. Saying the town has no development plan is wrong. Saying the town has no Capital Improvement Plan is wrong. Saying the town does not invest in the Fire Dept is wrong. Saying the town doesn't pave sidestreets is wrong.

He enjoys campaigning I'm just not sure he is really interested in the actual position. Because if he was, he would come to meetings, read the town budget and actually learn facts.


" . And if voters read the rational for zoning changes in all the re-examinations, probably would vote out all land use board members. I mean they voted to expand the Hospital zoning as we lost our maternity ward. No one gets born in Htown; got to commute.."

Man your rants are so long it takes time to through them. To answer this one. By expanding the hospital district it got us a couple of new Medical office buildings in that area. Which by building offices helped bring in higher earning professionals that are looking to live closer to their office.... which brought in the Bilby road housing development that will have higher end rental units.

So brought in more jobs to Hackettstown, Higher earnings working in town, going to restaurants and shops and soon more of those higher earners living in town. Wow It was almost like the town had a plan!


The amount of students will increase with the new Bilby project and the BOE will get bashed for raising taxes to accommodate the "plan". Of course the town will say "we didn't raise your taxes, it's the schools that keep raising them."

Archive this for later.

Have a nice day.

crazy jane crazy jane
1 week ago

Isn't the Bilby project a 55+ community?

Calico696 Calico696
1 week ago

Hey, bugger off with the attitude. I'm just enjoying the research, a little give n take, and learnin some stuff. Apparently you learned something too. But if you want to trade barbs n snarks, I'm your huckleberry.

Based on the "plan," as posted on the council's website for the town ---- everything I said was spot on. They did expand the hospital zone. We have no maternity. Call em as I see em and glad you added rationale not present on the site sans plan. Cuz without transparency, how would I conclude that?

The plan was first filed in, what 2008??, not sure, but that plan is still NOT there. Would be nice. Can you get them to post that one too? Maybe in the right place this time. History helps.

It's a grand plan, much better than the state reexamination templates residing on the site. Still a lot of cut n paste from previous plans, but it's grand cut n paste and lots of individual effort by the LUB members. Loved the stakeholders, good idea. Who is Peter Paftinos, must be as big as a company.....only person who is listed as a stakeholder. Odd. Give some time for me to go through it, looks very nice though.

RE: the Historic District, this sounds like a great plan test, you say it's specific: I say the historic district plan stinks with much hemming and hawing, a great dance but no real specifics, some unenforceable guidelines, and a lot of set up to duck the issue and let folks on Main Street opt out. "It's a trap!" But before I knee jerk, oops - too late --- perhaps you can either post or direct to Section 806 of the Land Use Ordinance so we can rate this major component of the plan. Because, according to the 2018 plan: "Dr. Bedford’s testimony also revealed deficiencies in the Town’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. He did not believe that the Ordinance followed the historic preservation guidelines from the US Secretary of the Interior and found the Ordinance vague and difficult to implement." Hmmmm --- foreshadowing?

I am glad my posts spurred action to make the newest plan transparent 12 months after publication. Except it's really NOT posted, is it. It's NOT posted on the Land Use Document page but buried somewhere where someone posted it. Bottom line: the only access is from your link on this post. Stet the transparency comment. I guess you could call that "added to the website" if you happen to read HL.

Re Gillan's website and info: totally agree with your opinion, it's blue sky and buttercups, it's bad, I'm better claptrap, and I had said as much in a long and rambling rant like this. However ---- given the others seem to have info bupkis, I guess he wins! No wonder he skipped the debate :>) Or maybe you could load their ideas up for them. like the plan. Thanks for the posting, it's a grand plan, at least until we read it. It is certainly a plan, no doubts about it. If I were you, I would have felt tweaked as well. But not at me, at the people charged and pay to do the job.

strangerdanger strangerdanger
1 week ago

"They did expand the hospital zone. We have no maternity. Call em as I see em "

You keep mentioning this but i'm not getting your point

1) The expanding of the zoning happened before the Maternity ward closed down. Before the hospital merged with Atlantic
2) what does that have anything to do with bringing in more medical offices? People go to the hospital for other things than having babies.


"Except it's really NOT posted, is it. It's NOT posted on the Land Use Document page but buried somewhere where someone posted it."

Its right there on the Land Use page on the website.
https://www.hackettstown.net/land-use-board
MASTER PLAN REEXAMINATION REPORT

And we updated our new website last year, guess someone made a human error and forgot to add it to the new website. It was on the old one. The issue got resolved 24 hours after it was brought to their attention.


Sans other info, the public facts I saw were the zoning expansion and the maternity ward closing; you provided the rationale, sounds good to me. Without it, like I said, I am spot on.

You gaslighting me? Yes, it's on the LUB page; however, you linked: https://www.hackettstown.net/land-use/pages/documents where I would expect a document to be....and it wasn't.

Then you linked: https://www.hackettstown.net/sites/hackettstownnj/files/uploads/2018_hackettstown_reexamination_report_adopted_11-27-2018.pdf which links to the document, but there's no link back to the LUB page and if you truncate the URL, you get nowhere (as it should be for proper document storage).

I did not surf around the site to see if it was elsewhere. It makes me blue :>)

As to the error, makes sense, glad I could help. Glad you hit the important parts, what about the rest?

Why is an individual, Paftinos, a stakeholder? Who is he? If I google him, only lawsuits pop up and I am sure that's not him, there's more to him than that.
Do you have section 806 linkage? Want to continue pursuing the Historic District specifications, or lack thereof (as your own report so clearly states but you disagree).
Can you get the old Master Plan posted; I love history and I bet they have come a long way? I love history, as I said, and I like progress.
Do you remember how much you got paid as a councilman?
I take it no candidate, beyond Gillan, has a platform staked out on a website?
Do you believe that the money spend on Streetscape, including the grant, was profitable?

Thanks for putting up with me.

strangerdanger strangerdanger
1 week ago

So you ask me 50questions. I will take the time to answer the quick ones.

Why is an individual, Paftinos, a stakeholder?
His family is the largest land owner in town. They own multiple rental housing projects in town. I think added up they pay the most property taxes to the town. More than M&M


Can you get the old Master Plan posted?
2008 is on the town website. Before that they were every 7 years. So 2001. I don’t know where to find the ones older than 2008

Do you remember how much you got paid as a councilman?
In 2019 I think they get paid $4300/. Mayor makes just about $5k.

I take it no candidate, beyond Gillan, has a platform staked out on a website?
Not that I know of. Guess they are running on their record rather than misinformation like Mark is running on

Do you believe that the money spend on
Streetscape, including the grant, was profitable?
Yes.


OK. All done. Thanks Jim L and SD.

Jim King
1 week ago

And I agree SD it’s great that Mark has a FB. How else would we know he has now played the town is racist card. From his post:

“And lastly, I have on several occasions, been made aware of the hostility that some in our immigrant community face. I have personally heard some vile things said while canvassing. This has reinforced my determination to reach out into our community and make sure that anyone who has chosen to build a life here, send their children to the schools, and enrich the fabric of this town is made to feel welcome.“


Geeez Jim --- you don't even have to go beyond this site to know that's probably VERY true. There are racists here amongst us and immigrants are often made to feel unwelcome. What's your issue with this?

Back to the beginning, before we Master Planned our way off point, a good tangent IMO. Still wonder why only one individual, granted a big money guy, was a stakeholder. What, number two didn't want to attend? That one smacks of favoritism. But, onward.....

The town is debt-free, yippee, I believe was on of your two points for supporting the incumbents. I agree. However......staying debt-free forever shows a lack of financial acumen and an inability to leverage assets to advantage our community. It's easy to cut, cut, cut and sum to zero; it's difficult to invest wisely for profit. Takes creativity, estimates, and forecasting. But if you don't invest and you stay at $0 debt, you are also leaving money on the table, specifically, you are wasting the good credit you spent from all those years of $0 debt to build. You can build even better credit with paid-off loans than $0 debt. And given State and Federal kick-ins for major capex projects, foregoing said supported projects immediately gives that money to others. You snooze, you lose.

An example of losing:

The Murphy roads projects discussed earlier lost H-town tween $100K and $1M because we were in the miserable 5% that didn't capitalize and get the grant. That's free money on the table, and money we gave to ---- pick any surrounding community --- they ALL won.

An example of winning:

Imagine if you will that somebody came to you and said: "I have an idea I call Streetscape." In the end, I believe you and I agreed this was a profitable investment. Why wouldn't you take a loan IF you knew you would profit in the end. Especially if the Fed, via Obama Stimulus, kicked in a major portion.

Granted there is risk, and I would like to say that's why the council gets the big bucks....but at those $$$/time I can see where the priority is focus on the $0's. Yet perhaps the bistro district's success and uplift of Main Street is due partially to Streetscape. We didn't really develop, we used existing buildings and infrastructure. Money is flowing, all sorts of extra tax revenues come with that and the community is mostly happier with all the new eateries and drinkeries.

In my perfect world, we would focus on $0 dollar budgets along with reasonable debt supported by stringent metrics to assess project success. If we can't invest well, go back to $0 debt. Let the metrics guide you. Because if we don't change the tax rate, the only way to increase revenues, without increasing operations and infrastructure costs via new developments --- is to increase spending of discretionary dollars and increased property values. And the only way to do that is to increase demand of people wanting to live here and wanting to spend money here.. Profitable capex projects can help do that. If you choose your debt wisely.

strangerdanger strangerdanger
1 week ago

Very true SD and good points. There is a fine balance of managing smart debt and remaining debt free to a fault. We are certainly debt free for the worse. Imagine if smart debt could have totally re-shaped Main St. instead of it looking so outdated and hodgepodge.

It seems to be our town leaders are afraid of debt, or just not savvy enough to take advantage of what opportunities can be had. Looks like a lot fell though scared hands. Oh well it's really what keeps Morris county what it is and Warren well just kind of like second or third place no?


To be honest Steve, at $3k payment, I would be hard pressed to create a good business case. Think they need a leveraged process to:
1. Focus on and take advantage of possible grants
2. Create “stakeholders” team of actual proven professionals to choose and direct
3. Create metrics to measure success or problems to see whether worth it to do again

Given the talent, cost, and time; I don’t think we/they can afford to “roll our own” thus reliance on grants and gimmes would reduce risk. We do have successful business folks that could be stakeholders for direction, selection, and plan creation putting at least personal reputation skin in the game. And we need to measure. Plans w/o measurement would be.....well....like most of the plans around here.

I think it could be done IF we better leverage our resources creatively. Course I could be wrong about all of this. Cuz I am crazy. There you go JL; something for your next run. My work here is done; who else can I bug with my self-perceived brilliance ;-)

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
7 days ago

"We are certainly debt free for the worse."

Devil's advocate here: Care to elaborate???

justintime justintime
7 days ago

I think both Steve’s and my descriptions, examples and the like should be sufficient for your needs. Re-read or ask specific, not oblique questions

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
7 days ago

From Mark's FB post and i understand he has been going around canvassing telling everyone this "fact"

" Then I spoke with someone from the fire dept. after the meeting and he said there was no plan at the time to replace the 25 year old truck they were using. What I have been saying is there should be a plan to replace that piece of equipment."

https://www.hackettstown.net/sites/hackettstownnj/files/uploads/hackettstown_2019_budget.pdf

Page 26 of the town budget. The town's 5 year Strategic Plan that since 2016 has included funds to purchase the fire truck.

So someone who has been running for town council for 2 years now could not take the time to read the town budget and instead going around town telling residents misinformation that the town has no plan in place to replace the old fire truck. Got it.

His own Democratic Councilman should have even told him there is a plan to buy the truck as he voted for the budget in 2019 and should have seen the 5 yr strategic plan in the budget.


While I understand your comment, makes sense, yet linking Mr. Hinrichs to your lament is a real stretch that might be considered to be the kind of partisan thinking that we just don't need on a town council. Why make this a "sides" issue. You are attempting to smear two people with the same mud with their only common bond being party. Why is it Hinrichs responsibility because he is a Democrat, why not the lead dog, the top dog in the fight --- the Mayor? It's her budget, she voted for it. Or why is it anyone's responsibility? Might be nice, but a duty?

I mean you're such a nice guy that you won't run against your own party; but not such a nice guy to ping Gillan on his FB page to mention his mistake.....I mean you were right there, could have just entered a few comments. Instead you snake it round here to raise a stink in a partisan fashion. Harrumph! Flag on the play!

While your comment on Gillan sounds correct, think the rest is a prime example of selling after the close and trying to smear one guy with another guy's issue. Why make it partisan to begin with?

I mean the existing mayor and councilpersons running this term left up to $1M in grant money on the table that Oxford, Indy, Alamoosey, Mansfield, Washington, everyone else got. You still didn't answer why they missed that one? Seems a more egregious offense to me. One mistake cost money, the other mistake, only reputation.

stangerdanger stangerdanger
6 days ago

Bob was out canvassing with him. door to door side by side. They knocked on the same doors together. So when Bob heard Mark tell voters the town has no plan to buy a fire truck shouldn't Bob have told him that is not factual information? No? We should expect intergrity?


Re: Town Elections 2

Get out early and often and cast your vote!!


Yes he should. And may have. And may not have but just didn’t remember that part of the plan. Mistake, sure. Honest one perhaps. Or perhaps something else. Maybe something bad, who knows. Ask him. He will tell you. Then tell us; inquiring minds need..... You would do the same if on your side of the fence. You would ask them. Just folks being folks. Don’t need fences here.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
6 days ago

I voted.

Mrs.Ward Mrs.Ward
6 days ago

Me too

Phil D. Phil D.
6 days ago

Mark is not smart enough to run a decent campaign and the voters clearly indicated that he is not smart enough to manage the town’s affairs.


Agreed. Also, another vote for the status quo defining H-town’s rigid stand in a rapidly changing suburban national landscape. While I am sure these folks will budget well; I just hope they can see a creative way to bring in revenue w/o tax hikes, keep us safe, and to take actions that improve, not destroy property values.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
5 days ago

I don’t know where any of them were out canvassing this town, but I had NO one from this town knock on my door and talk to me about their campaign.

Gripit
5 days ago

Actually candidate Gillan placed a flier on my door yesterday, midday. He was also in the neighborhood last week as well. He was out and about for sure.


Now that the election is over let's get down to business and continue improving Hackettstown and the neighboring communities.


2019 Results:
REP Gerald DIMAIO JR. 1,018
REP Matthew ENGELAU 942
DEM Mark GILLAN 663
DEM Janis A. MEICHSNER 576
Write-In Totals 5
Total Votes Cast 3,204

My suggestion to Mark is come to meetings, read the budget, ask questions, present ideas to the Mayor and Council. Volunteer in town. Be part of the great group of people who are putting in the work to do what's best for the town. Don't just care about the town the 2months a year you're canvassing for votes, care about the town all year round by being engaged.


Does anyone know the outcome of the school referendum?

TownFriend TownFriend
5 days ago

Oh no 2 Republicans won.... The horror SD.... What is this rapidly changing suburban national landscape you speak of SD. This should be interesting. I expect an essay length reply. LOL...

Metsman Metsman
5 days ago

The school referendum passed easily. almost 1200 yes's to 400 no's


Nah, you are not interested in a dialogue Mets. Thanks, but I will pass.

strangerdanger strangerdanger
5 days ago

"We are certainly debt free for the worse."

"I think both Steve’s and my descriptions, examples and the like should be sufficient for your needs. Re-read or ask specific, not oblique questions"

I was responding to Steve, not you, because he's the one who stated that we are "debt free for the worse". I don't see it, and I think the town positioning themselves to be able to handle any unforeseen situation without harm to the taxpayers is quite the responsible thing to do.

If all you are interested in is how to use government to get "more" - the perspective of how to find ways to be greedy with other people's money - then I see your point. But being responsible stewards of the local economy shouldn't be about "more, more, more", it should be about, well, responsible stewardship. Kudos to the town government for doing just that.

Steve, if you're game I'd still be interested to understand why you think being responsible care takers of public funds is "worse" than the town positioning itself under loads of debt. Just a reminder, and to be as acute as possible (because asking questions, apparently, is oblique), debt is nothing more than a tool to pull forward the things you want today by passing along the cost to those in the future. Let me repeat that, because so few folks actually consider what it is: Debt is nothing more than a tool to pull forward the things you want today by passing along the cost to those in the future. So unless the debt is for something exceedingly urgent, it's use can be (should be, actually) viewed as irresponsible greed (gimme today because I want it) by those acquiring said debt.

Thus the request for elaboration: What is "worse" under the current administration?

justintime justintime
4 days ago

Steve was just adding his agreement to my statements as noted sbove. Again, it’s clear as mud as noted above including a hats-off to low debt plus the apparent downside of perpetual low debt, and even the downside of savings ahead for all possible expenditures.

Your argument is an extreme, neither Steve or I suggested a more, more, more, or passing too much debt forward. As noted above.

Questions are not oblique, your question was, and is. Plus, good luck restricting response to a shingle player. Try email.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
4 days ago

Re: Town Elections 2

ok this will be my last post about this election. I've been accused of doing a hit job on Mark and Aggressive trolling. Well I have been speaking out about all the mistruths regarding his campaign. I was done until someone gave me this flyer of his that he sent out.

Now Mark has stated he made a "policy" to avoid mudslinging so I'm not sure how this flyer conforms with that policy of his:

"My Opponents support building a QuickCheck..."

Really, they do? Because as members of Town Council they had no say on the matter. They had no vote and they have not made any public comments supporting this project. They are also in no position to fight it as it was a zoning issue handles solely by the Zoning Board.

Also does Mark know that 1 of his opponents lives right there on Washington St. He is not happy about the QC being built across the street his house.

"...less than 200 feet from 2 schools"

Really Mark 200 feet? You might want to get a ruler out. The schools are more than 0.4miles from the gas station. So that closer to 2000 feet than is to 200 feet. But I guess 200ft sounds scarier so hell with the facts.

And then my favorite line
"As councilman, I will fight against this terrible development plan"

How are you going to do that Mark? The site plan has already been approved by the Zoning Board. The State DOT has already reviewed the plan and approved it and construction is set to begin in the Spring. So how you going to fight it? And why did you not stand up and fight it at any of the 8 public meetings on the QC plan, none of which you even attended.

We are a small town and this kind of smear campaign flyers have no place in our local politics. They do nothing but pass misinformation and lies to the public. I get that stuff happens at the state and federal level but we as a town should demand higher standards from those wanting to run for office. Hopefully in 2020 we can have more integrity and ethics in our local election and not let all the things we hate about national politics find their way our great town.


Yeah, I would say hit job. Poor losers I understand, but poor winners? Never a class act. Maybe save it for your next run if Gillan goes for three-on-a-match. Or continue helping him to improve with your critiques.

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
4 days ago

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