It was about two years ago, at a town council budget meeting, that I stated how lucky Woodbridge Township is to live under a protective dome - a dome that allows the McCormac Administration to spend, tax, and bond, while our country and our state are fighting to overcome the effects of the Great Recession. Of course, I was quipping to make a point that this township is not insulated from the recession. The past two years have certainly shown that to be the case.
For those that have watched John McCormac and his Spending Team of Eight (aka his town council), there is no doubt the tax-and-spend mentality is very much alive in Woodbridge Township. Just look at the recent approval of $7.1 million in pork barrel bonded debt McCormac got passed by his rubber stamp town council.
Of the $7.1 million, $4 million or so is earmarked for road improvements. The balance is pure pork barrel spending. Paving private clubs, paving and fencing school property (voters don’t get to say no, when those costs are outside the BOE budget), putting air conditioning on an old school building with little parking, so the Community Players have some place to perform, and of course, the new skate board park, which will be near the senior center and St. John Vianney’s in Colonia.
If one wants to truly appreciate how the McCormac Administration conducts surveys, on how the residents, voters and taxpayers of Woodbridge Township want their money spent, consider the Patch article,
Beyond what Ms. Chang wrote in her article, be sure to read the comments that follow the article.
As to the “poll” Mr. Hagerty said was taken of Colonia Middle School students about what they wanted in the their area, amazingly, most of those youngsters said they wanted a skate park! It is unclear if those children were holding their skateboards in hand while the “poll” was being taken. As an aside, one wonders if the poll asked the kids if they want ice cream, at no cost to them, how many would have said YES!
Keep in mind, the McCormac Administration admitted they did not have a “hard cost” for the skate park at the time the article was published on January 7. So how much money did they throw into their January 4 “Road and Pork Barrel Budget” for the skate park? How many other costs were mere guesstimates in the $7.1 million (bonded debt) budget? Despite the lack of hard cost data on many components of the budget, the budget was approved by the town council on January 25. Like most pork barrel budgets, this budget had a hook in it: the $4 million in road repairs.
Therefore, if one or more council member said no to the total budget, they would be accused of being against the community’s much-needed road repairs. Fortunately, council members can vote "no" on individual components of the total budget, as those projects come up for approval.
Thanks to an OPRA request, a copy of the 2/1/2011 ESTIMATE for the Evergreen skate park was obtained. As you will note, the estimate is based on a 18,455 sq. ft. skate board park at the Rahway Avenue Park, not the 14,000 sq. ft. claimed by Mr. Hagerty. On a size vs. cost basis, the new Evergreen (Colonia) Skate Park, at 8,800 sq. ft. will be (approx) 48% in size of the 18,455 sq. ft. Rahway Avenue Park and will cost, on a square foot basis, 23% more! And that’s on a $400,000 estimate, not the $500,000 plus now being mentioned.
For those that heard Governor Chris Christie’s speech at the Woodbridge Community Center on March 15, it is easy to see why John McCormac got red-faced and grimaced when the governor talked about the dire necessity of cost cutting and less government spending in these difficult economic times. As if to pour salt on the wound, the governor also joked about how some politicians have a very repetitive style of asking people in one area want they want, and then go spend everyone’s money to give the few what they want.
Apparently, the man who has often stated he will be the mayor of Woodbridge for as long as he wants has now taken to asking Middle School children how Woodbridge Township budget funds should be spent. Too bad he did explain to them he is putting all that bonded debt in their future. Maybe one day, John will tell those grown-up taxpayers: "Sorry, kids, the ice cream really wasn’t free!"
(Tom Maras is a Fords resident and a candidate for the Woodbridge Township School Board.)