The letter below was written by Linda Baum and appears online today at the Asbury Park Press:
The letter “Fiscal discipline puts Middletown on track” (Oct. 21) implies residents should be concerned about the leadership of Democratic representatives who have consistently voted against the tax hikes and irresponsible pet projects that are a heavy burden on Middletown residents.
Democrats didn’t raise municipal property taxes more than 22 percent in three years. Tony Fiore did.
Republicans have held a majority on the Township Committee for decades and therefore can’t blame anyone else for the mess they’ve made. Mayor Fiore helped to create many of the problems we now face.
No one would argue that these are difficult times, but the economic climate cannot be blamed for the result of so many years of mismanagement. Our taxes went up every year, long before the downturn.
Fiore acts as if conforming to a tax cap is the goal. It’s a ceiling, and there are many ways around it, such as taking $750,000 over the last two years from the Sewerage Authority, which can raise our sewer fees to recoup without any annoying tax cap to worry about. Let’s not forget last year’s 13.4 percent municipal tax increase, which blew well past the cap and required a state waiver.
Further, the $4 million reduction in this year’s budget isn’t the spending cut Fiore would like everyone to believe. The budget reduction results mainly from the disappearance of surplus revenue.
Most of those reserves went to pay for tax appeals, which could have been avoided had there been more attention to fair distribution of revenues over the years. That’s the very foundation of municipal government and speaks of the real problem — an absence of foresight and planning.
Residents deserve much better.