By Jonathan Hornik, Mayor of Marlboro
When I was first elected Mayor, I detailed my ‘Plan for Progress…100 Days and Beyond’. As a lifelong resident of Marlboro and business person, I stressed the need for investment in public safety and infrastructure including roads and open space preservation while getting our fiscal house in order. Especially in light of the great recession and the severe storms which we weathered as a community, I am pleased that we have been able to accomplish as much as we have, and my focus for the next four years will be on these same critical areas.
First, investment in public safety and infrastructure requires a strong fiscal house. The independent rating agency Standard & Poors has recognized the Town’s financial strength by once again reaffirming its AAA credit rating, validating Marlboro’s philosophy with respect to an active and managed capital program. This rating, shared by only 5% of the towns in New Jersey, ensures that Marlboro borrows at the lowest cost possible when it invests in its critical infrastructure. We achieved this by reducing the number of full-time employees by more than 11%, requiring employees to contribute up to 35% of the cost of health insurance, and offering a program to incentivize employees who have alternate coverage to opt out of the Township’s insurance plan. In 2017, we negotiated a new base health plan with the two largest unions which has resulted in a 21% premium savings on every enrollment. We have instituted a merit-based raise program with two other groups, tying raises to higher performance in the workplace. Reductions in the number of paid municipal holidays, wages and paid time off for new employees, and curtailing or eliminating the practice of paying for accumulated sick time at the time of retirement are further examples of the Township’s successful efforts to reduce personnel costs. We continue to look to the private sector to provide services where they can be performed more efficiently, and aggressively pursue alternative revenue sources to invest in infrastructure while continuing to maintain a debt level approximately one-fifth the statutory limit and less as a percentage of our budget than it was in 2003.
We have dedicated $10 million to road improvements over the past two years, constructed sidewalks, addressed traffic intersections and completed park improvements at several locations. With the help of a recently awarded $875,000 grant, the Township will complete a critical component of its pedestrian access plan, making key locations more accessible, connecting schools, the municipal complex and library, retail establishments and houses of worship via sidewalk. Under a separate grant funding stream, the missing “links” of the Henry Hudson Trail will also be completed.
I am very proud of our record of preserving more than 260 acres of land and protecting property from development. To do so, we have secured more than $4 million in outside funding, and will continue to do so during a new term in office. I first ran on the preservation of the Stattel Farm, slated by prior administrations to be housing. I knew that putting 500 homes on these 56 acres, located at the center of Marlboro near the intersection of Route 520 and Route 79, would be a negative impact on the quality of life for our residents. It was one of my proudest moments as Mayor when the acquisition of this land was completed in 2017 and, notably, was accomplished without any budget impact. An added bonus – the Stattel Farm is now home to the Marlboro Farmers Market which celebrated its grand opening this June!
In a new term, our mantra will remain “Smart Growth” as we continue to generate new, clean, smart commercial tax ratables and support our local businesses, with the understanding that this directly reduces the burden on residential property taxpayers. We know that a focus on quality of life issues and a strong fiscal house are self-fulfilling. Simply put, businesses want to be in Marlboro. We formed the Economic Development Committee (EDC) in 2008 with a mandate to make Marlboro more business friendly and attract new enterprises. Since then, we have generated new commercial development resulting in $100 million in new tax ratables. I look forward to generating new commercial tax dollars to reduce the residential tax burden and improve the quality of life in Marlboro.
Marlboro’s innovative, first of its kind “Shop Marlboro Property Tax Reward Program” has just completed its sixth year in operation, and is being replicated in communities throughout the State. The premise is simple – support local businesses here in Marlboro and save money on your property taxes. Since its inception, participating merchants have realized $4.0 million in Shop Marlboro! sales, and our residents have saved more than $263,000 on their property taxes. Residents are choosing to make their purchases in town, and local merchants are reaping the benefits. This win-win situation further enhances our ability to attract new businesses in Marlboro.
Over the last several years, Marlboro has consistently been named one of the 50 safest communities in New Jersey, including 2019. In 2017, Marlboro was recognized as one of the 100 best places in New Jersey to raise a family, one of only three in Monmouth County. We were recently ranked #22 in the list of “Safest Cities in America to Raise a Family” and “34th”Safest City in America”. Marlboro Police maintain a substantial presence in our local schools. Initiated before the tragic school shootings in Parkland, Florida, the Township continues to assign armed School Security Officers under the direction of Marlboro Police which ensures an armed police presence in all of our public schools. I remain firmly committed to continuing this program in the future, and maintaining one of the safest large suburban communities in the country.
In a new term, I continue with my pledge to invest in our infrastructure, work with schools and police to keep our community safe and deliver the services which makes us unique and maintain our status as a premier destination for residents and businesses alike.
Jonathan Hornik has been Mayor of Marlboro since 2008. He was reelected to a third term in 2015 with 68.35% of the vote. He is unopposed for a fourth term.