Question 1, Shared Services: Frank Sapienza Response

What specific cost-cutting or service-sharing tactic from another town would you like to bring to Verona and why?

Having met with fellow council members, mayors and town administrators from a wide variety of municipalities surrounding Verona, I have had the very gratifying experience of hearing that many of them are looking to us as an example for cost cutting and shared services initiatives. Our record of reducing staff through attrition, and consolidating duties while increasing substantially our utilization of the latest technological applications, has served as the benchmark for many towns in Essex County. Our use of solar power on municipally owned facilities has not only generated a revenue stream for the town, but also reduced our need for purchasing electric power while increasing our “Going green” capabilities. The continuing revenue from our cellular tower has helped to lessen the burden on Verona tax payers. Shared services with our Board of Education, as well as with other municipalities such as Roseland, Montclair and Cedar Grove have all generated much helpful and sustainable revenue without sacrificing any of the much appreciated service to our own residents.

Maintaining our good fiscal management as we have done so efficiently for the past several years, continuing to explore new and creative shared services, bringing in more lucrative development to the town, and limiting our spending to what is wise and necessary, will all cut costs. However, we, as a council, have only so much control over where your tax dollars go. While the municipality is responsible for collecting 100% of your property tax, the state, county, and state mandated educational system costs are what drive 75% of a municipal budget. We run the town on roughly 24 cents out of every tax dollar. I believe we are already doing a very admirable job in managing our budget and cutting costs while maintaining all of the many and varied and vital services we provide to our residents. Can we do better? Absolutely! But the path that we have undertaken is good and true, and it is essential that we stay committed to it.