Committeeman George Newberry On The Wildlife Ordinance, Taxes, Priviatization
On privitizing municipal services, municipal taxes and the wildlife feeding ordinance
(Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in an occasional series that lets public officials speak, unedited, about issues that concern Wall. Today, its Committeeman George K. Newberry, recorded by Wall Patch at a Feb. 9 Township Committee meeting espousing his views on a variety of topics.)
On Privitization of Municipal Services:
"The situation of privization as often discussed by this township committee, it affects the lives of many people employed by the town.
"Privitization of buses in towns is often found to be very economical, until the last yellow bus in town leaves. And then things change. Prices go up and you can no longer afford to purchase back the buses you had before and hire the people back and you’re stuck and you will now pay the going rate.
"The Municipality of Ocean Township that I spoke about regrets to this very day selling their water department to a private company. They now see that it would have been run better if it was in municipal hands. However, it has such a value now there’s no way the taxpayers could ever purchase it back.
"Once these decisions are made, they can’t be changed.
"Privitization of portions of our community would cut back on what I refer to as “manpower pool.’’ The people that work for the DPW have a job description: They do everything.
"They share and move people back and forth to accomplish the tasks that the taxpayers like to see happen. And if we go into privitization, and reduce that manpower pool, it will affect the services that the taxpayers have come to enjoy and come to expect, very frankly. Because of that, privitization is not something we’ve ignored, we’ve looked at many times. It’s just not a very comfortable of a way to move forward, in our opinion at this time.
"That may change. We will continue to look at these things until we see the right mix."
On Municipal Taxes:
"If you were someone who spends $10,000 a year on taxes – just a round number, many of you spend less, a lot of you spend a lot more – if we closed municipal government, if we shut the building down, closed DPW, closed the Police Department, if we went away, your tax bill would still be about $7,800.
"That’s still a lot of money.
"So when people look at their overall tax bill and see what they’re paying and they’re upset about it, we only regulate a very small portion of that. And you need to realize that when you look at these numbers. Someone will say to you that $7,800 is still a lot of money, but that’s what it would be if we were at $10,000 and we were gone. That would never happen, but you need to do that comparison when you look at the numbers."
On the wildlife feeding ordinance:
“I truly say it is probably the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done as part of this committee, and would never have imagined when I was elected that I’d be dealing with that.
"But we do have a situation in a neighborhood that is being … I hate to use the word intimidated, but it almost is. And the only way we can control things when people simply don’t want to go along with you is to pass a law, an ordinance – municipal-level laws are ordinances. And I feel clear that what we put forward is something that can be defined in court.
"We all might have a feeling in our mind what overfeeding or overdoing anything is, but each of us in this room would have a different definition of that if we were to poll.
"So the ordinance is designed so that a zoning person could look at it and say “yes, this is wrong.’’ And look at it in court and a judge could say “yes, it’s right or wrong” and that would be clear cut.
"So, (I'm) not thrilled with moving ahead with the bird ordinance, but we’ve done so."