Mayor Bruno Answers Questions Regarding Union County Secession
Friday, October 25, 2013 • 7:29am
BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Mayor Joe Bruno addressed residents questions regarding the Union County Secession at the Town Council meeting on Tuesday. Bruno recently issued a letter on the topic and taped a segment of Cup of Joe with Joe with Councilman Robert Woodruff to be aired on local GLTV Comcast 34 and Verizon Fios 47.
The Mayor's Letter to the residents regarding the Union County Secession asked residents to contact him with questions. Bruno addressed some of the questions about costs, Mountainside students attending Gov. Livingston, county parks and roads.
- The costs can't be answered at this time because the county and state won't engage in conversations with Berkeley Heights regarding the secession until the referendum vote is passed. If the referendum is passed, the vote is non-binding. We need to find the feeling of the residents. Do they want to stay part of Union County and pay the portion of Union County tax bill or move to Morris County and pay that portion?
- The Mountainside children will still continue to go to Gov. Livingston. The arrangement is not governed by what county Berkeley Heights is in.
- The cost of Snyder Avenue Park was approximately $13 million and the county paid for that. Berkeley Heights paid $15 million in taxes last year as a township to the county. The township's portion of taxes paid to the county is what paid for the park. There is no reimbursement necessary.
- Union County roads are maintained by Union County, this maintenance would be picked up by Morris County if secession occurred. We have already paid for the roads in the many years we paid taxes to Union County.
- Runnels Hospital is a Union County hospital located in Berkeley Heights. Any questions related to Runnels will need to be answered by Union County. The county is looking to sell Runnels Hospital.
"It all starts with the referendum. If you like where we are, vote 'No', if you don't like where we are, vote 'yes'," Bruno said. "Everyone knows where I stand on it, but we have to hear from the electoral and where they stand on it. Then we will take the petition to the state, the legislature. At the same time, we ask Morris County to accept us. We then ask the legislature for permission to secede from the county." Stating that it won't be easy, it will be an uphill battle. "We shouldn't be afraid to take the next step, be bold in our approach in doing it."
Bruno has the support of the entire council and he assumes the community will be supportive. "That is what Question 3 on the ballot is for, you as a voter, to let us know. Vote on who you want and vote on Question 3. We need to know the feeling of this township. We'll take the fight to Trenton and be relentless. We need to make sure they hear us," said Bruno.