Galloway Councilman Jim Gorman was not in favor of the 2012 municipal budget, and he was eager to let the rest of council and the township know it.
Council was voting to come out of council comments concerning the budget, and Gorman voted no, then began to explain his opposition to the budget.
“This is a vote to close the discussion,” Township Clerk Thalia C. Kay told him.
When they proceeded to vote, Gorman was the lone dissenter on a budget that made no one happy, although Tom Bassford was absent.
The $24.2 million passed by a vote of 5-1 at the council meeting on Tuesday night, April 24.
“A lot of hard work went into this budget,” Gorman said. “I understand it’s difficult, and it’s only going to get worse.”
Gorman said the state hands down mandates and takes more money, but leaves the township with the bill for the mandates. He used OPRA requests as an example, wondered why the Department of Community Affairs can’t handle the requests.
“It’s a state mandate,” Gorman said. “Why is it not maintained by the state?”
“We’ve talked about it before,” Mayor Don Purdy said following the meeting. “The state uses that money in its own pocket. They act like they’re doing you a favor by taking by controlling it.”
The township has received a high number of OPRA requests in the past few months, and at Tuesday night’s meeting, announced the settlement of a by gallowatwpnews.com publisher Harry Scheeler over the release of OPRA requests.
“It was in the township’s best interest to amicably resolve this conflict,” Solicitor Michael Blee said. “Galloway has filled all the requests and doesn’t admit liability.”
Later Tuesday night, Scheeler denied settling with the township, based on the fact that it says it did nothing wrong, a fact he disputes.
"They asked me to sign a document that they did nothing wrong and I refused," Scheeler said.
Gorman also discussed the franchise tax, which he said was initially supposed to go 100 percent to the municipalities.
“They just take more and more,” Gorman said. “ … It’s becoming impossible to maintain the status quo.
“Towns have to plan 3-5 years. Why doesn’t the state?”
The public hearing on the budget was held Tuesday night. Resident Anna Jezycki asked if there was any way to reverse all the state mandates. She hoped to get the state’s municipalities to band together and send letters to the state concerning the issue, the same way they did with the
“I would be for that, but I’d like to see it move a lot quicker than the Jessica Lunsford Act,” Gorman said.
“It would move quicker because this affects people’s wallets,” Jezycki said.
“Nobody’s happy about this budget,” Township Manager Arch Liston said. “We were obligated not to lay anybody off, but we know what we have to do going forward. There will be next year. We’re not trying to hide anything. We have to start talking with the unions now about next year’s budget.”
Gorman knew the budget would pass, and said his vote against it was more of a statement against what was happening in Trenton.
“If our backs were up against the wall, that would be one thing, but they’re not. I took this chance to get the ideas out there.”