Sunday, October 26, 2014

Question for Mayor & Council

26- Oct-2014

    This is the first post in a series of question asked by Bogota Blog NJ to the two candidates for Mayor and all four candidates running for the two available seat for Bogota Borough Council. The order in which the answers appear for the first question is determined by how the answers were received by Bogota Blog NJ.  Because the Candidates from the Democratic  Party have supplied their answers as a group both parties answer will be group together.   After that the first question the  answers will  alternate between parties.  I hope this is a fair, informative, and useful series of posts to be held over the next few days. There will be two questions with answers per post per day.
  The Candidates for Council are Councilwoman Lisa Kohles, and her running mate Ingrid Brito for the Democratic Party.   The Republican Candidates are Daniele Fede and Thomas  Napolitano.The Candidates for Mayor are Republican Councilman Christopher Keleman.  The Democrats  Candidate is Mayor Tito Jackson.   The Election Day is Tuesday 4-Nov. polls will be open starting at 6:00a and close at 8:00p

Question #1
- With a State mandate of zero tax increases for the next fiscal year what can be done to again have a zero tax increase without State guidelines.

Christopher Keleman
You never want to be controlled by the state.  The people who live in Bogota and the people they elect know for better what is needed here.  Fortunately however with the state controller helping we are currently keeping our finances stable.  We simply could not continue to spend the way the last few administrations were doing.  We are at a very crucial point right now and we have NEVER had the state take over our checkbook.  We need to show the state we can work together and make sure our professionals master next years budget and work extremely tight with our entire borough staff and council.  We can not spend money we do not have and the credit card is already at its max, so no increase in taxes for the next year means no unnecessary municipal spending and purchasing.

Daniele Fede
To keep taxes stable the Mayor and Council has to spend no more than the funds in the budget. There also needs to be a surplus which has been lacking for many years to cover unexpected expenses. The professional fees need to be reduced and managed in a better fashion. The hourly rates and yearly rates for most of the professionals were increased significantly over the prior years for no apparent reason.  More grant opportunities need to be explored and a professional grants writer had been a successful option in the past. The Mayor and council needs to follow the financial corrective action plan written by the auditor as many areas of protocol were not followed.

Thomas  Napolitano
The first and most important thing that can be done this November is to elect a Council in Bogota that can work together to create an atmosphere of cooperation and communication. We need leaders that can look at both sides of the ledger crafting a budget that is fiscally responsible and creating an environment that attracts business to Bogota thus increasing our revenue without raising taxes. We need to stop spending money on legal fees and fighting with each other causing government gridlock.  I pledge to work for “smart development” in Bogota, look for grant opportunities as well as shared services when it makes sense to do so. We need a council that can take an objective view of our needs, develop a balanced, realistic budget and stand strong to the many challenges that we will face while protecting the taxpayers money that we have been trusted to protect.

Tito Jackson, Lisa Kohles, Ingrid Brito

In order for us to have a zero percent tax increase budget for FY2015, the first thing we can do is reign-in spending.  Specifically, we need to appoint new legal and engineering professionals that aren’t going to ring-up the bills, perform unauthorized work and put us in a legally vulnerable position.  This would be at the top of our “to-do list.” 

The next thing we can do to save money is pull our public employees out of the state mandated health benefits plan and look to the private marketplace for a more affordable plan.  Each year, the state mandated health plan has double digit increases, far greater than other private sector plans.  For us, this would be even more financially beneficial if we were able to combine health insurance buying power with the school district.  This would put us one step closer to having a second year of zero percent tax increase.

Question #2

-  The Bogota Junior/Senior High School has shown a move up in the rankings of State High School. What would be the next step to keep improving the High School academically.

Tito Jackson, Lisa Kohles, Ingrid Brito

The progress at our high school is highly encouraging.  A lot of this credit should go to our outstanding teachers, who go above-and-beyond to mold our young men and women to be academic achievers.  

However, we can’t just have strong influences within the classroom.  We also need them on the school board.  Bringing new names, faces and voices to the school board would be a step in the right direction.  On that point, we support the election of James Moore, Consuelo Carpenter, Kathy Van Buren and Pat McHale.  

We believe these new voices will bring fresh ideas that will directly contribute to providing greater resources to our classroom, and further enhancing student performance.

Christopher Keleman

First of all, Award for Success!  Acknowledging our educational administration would be my second choice.  Our BHS Students need to know that what they did was awesome!  Of course we wouldn't get there without the teachers, however its the kids that did all the work.  We want them to continue to work hard while attempting a new goal set by their principals and superintendent and they should be rewarded for their success.  Also, as mayor, I would be more than thrilled to acknowledge these students at an assembly during the school day and congratulate all the parents by letter as well. In my administration, education will be extremely important and very supported. 

Daniele Fede

The academic improvement is a Board of Education issue, however the Mayor and Council could have a better working relationship with the Board of Education. It should explore regionalization. This was done decades ago when we shared a High School with Maywood. We also need to retain students who are attending parochial and private schools in search of a better alternative. I attended a regional High School and it was able to provide more options and services.

Thomas  Napolitano

I must first applaud the Bogota Superintendent, Faculty, PTO, Board of Education and of course our children for the academic improvement they have recently made. It will be my job as Councilman in Bogota to support, communicate and cooperate with the Bogota School system by developing strong relationships with the leaders of our education community. They must all be supplied with the resources necessary to give our children the first class education they deserve. The Mayor and Council should support and assists all efforts to secure grants for regular operating districts (RODs) (Chapter 26, subchapter 18 section 15). 
Education has always been important to me and my family. My mother left Cuba for the United States for a better life. My siblings and I were taught the value of a strong education and all five of us have advanced degrees. I hold Master’s Degree in Engineering and have attained a Professional Engineer’s License in various states. This has enabled me to attain a position of Senior VP for a well-respected transportation engineering firm. I am very proud to see that Bogota school spirit is flying high this fall and I pledge to assist in bringing Bogota’s Education System to the top of Bergen County’s list. This serves a dual purpose; giving our children every advantage to succeed in life and raising Bogota Pride, as well as, the property values for our taxpayers!

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