Editor’s note: Each of the nine candidates running for a seat on the Brick Township Council were sent a questionnaire by Brick Shorebeat. Their answers to our questions will be published on our site verbatim. We have disabled comments on profile articles to ensure the candidates’ statements speak for themselves and readers can decide, without additional, potentially anonymous commentary, their view on those running for office.
Full Name: Charles D. Bacon
Current Age: 61
I attended SUNY Maritime College located in Bronx, New York. I graduated with a BS degree in mathematics with a minor in computer science. In addition, I successfully sat for my USCG Third’s Mates License.
In 2014 my wife and I started a small, local business, Lucy’s Bead Boutique. I also do some part time business consulting for 1on1 Development, an IT company.
Do you currently receive any public salary compensation? If so, from what public agency?
I do not receive any public salary compensation.
Have you ever previously held an elected office in Brick or elsewhere?
I have never held office in Brick or any other town.
If elected or re-elected to council, will you choose to receive taxpayer-funded health benefits from your elected position? Why or why not?
If elected, I will accept whatever compensation and benefits are offered to council members.
For the better part of the last decade, one of the top questions on the minds of Brick Township residents has been the redevelopment of the former Foodtown site on Route 70. How would you like to see the site redeveloped – commercial, residential Should future proposals set aside space for public to access Forge Pond?
THE TOWNSHIP SHOULD NOT BE IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS. THIS TRACT OF LAND SHOULD BE SOLD IMMEDIATELY SO THAT IT CAN GET BACK ON THE TAX ROLLS.
How it is developed is dependent upon the zoning master plan which immediately needs to be updated.
The Foodtown site continues to be a significant financial drain on the town. In the fall of 2014 the mayor filed a Notice of Default with the developer; in turn, the developer has filed a lawsuit against the town. This kind of legal wrangling will lead to years of litigation and unnecessary expenses to our taxpayers. As someone that has negotiated complex, multimillion dollar deals we need to reengage the developer outside of high-priced lawyers and get this mitigated.
The concept of perceived “overdevelopment” in Brick has generated a great deal of concern by township residents in recent years, especially given the construction of hundreds of new residential housing units that is currently underway. How should Brick Township manage what land remains undeveloped, and what zoning and land use limitations – if any – should be put on continued residential development in town?
The current all democrat council and administration have failed to work closely with the township planner and citizens on addressing overdevelopment. For example, hundreds of people have expressed their concerns about the proposed Ocean Pointe Development project located at Highway 88, Burrsville Rd and Jack Martin Boulevard. If approved, a 103 room hotel, 66 apartments, and approximately 40,000 square feet of retail space will go into a heavily congested area and will exasperate the vacant store issue in town. The great citizens of Brick have spoken and want this project rejected!
We need to revisit the master plan with township officials, land use professionals, and citizens, to come up with a ‘smart’ strategy for the remaining undeveloped land.
At this time, the Republican Team’s focus is to address the vacant stores and gas stations and NOT build anymore strip malls. The current administration has created an anti-business environment in Brick by trying to impose a business tax last year (blocked by the Chamber of Commerce) and significantly raising permit fees. I’ve enclosed a few points from our BUSINESS RENAISSANCE PLAN to improve the business atmosphere in town:
- Dedicated Township Employee – Reassign someone already on the payroll whose sole job is to work with the business community and businesses to develop and attract businesses that fit what our township needs. This individual must have the ability to move mountains of delays.
- New Business Walkthrough – Create a group of government officials and private sector professionals that would meet with the new business owners to help guide them through the complicated process of navigating the various departments in town hall.
- Reduce Building Permits Backlog – Develop action plan to address the significant backlog with building permits.
- Establish Enterprise Zones – Incentives for business to develop/improve in designated areas such as the vacant gas stations on highway 88.
We recognize that state policies and judicial decisions have accounted for a significant share of New Jersey residents’ highest-in-the-nation property tax burden, but local policies often have the most direct – and immediate – effect on tax bills. Please share any specific policies you favor through which the cost of municipal government would be reduced or revenue could be generated to offset the property tax burden. Should the township’s workforce be increased or reduced in certain departments or divisions, with the aim of saving money by either bringing services in-house or, conversely, looking to the private sector?
In 2014 as a member of the Citizen Advisory Budget Committee, I recommended NOT increasing the surplus by approximately $2.7 million. The council and administration ignored the suggestion which led to an unnecessary tax increase for the citizens of Brick.
The following outlines several items that can reduce expenses or increase revenue:
- Short Term Initiatives
The current council is holding close to ten million dollars of the Brick citizen’s hard-earned money hostage. Reducing the surplus will provide relief to the taxpayers.
Recently the state passed new regulations that require more stringent building requirements for Sandy Storm victims. The new regulations go into effect in March 2016. The additional costs will be significant and many people will walk away from their homes. The administration needs to take immediate action to eliminate the red tape and request additional state inspectors to get the permit backlog eliminated. The residents have suffered long enough – it’s time to act!
- Long Term Initiatives
We need to take a more strategic approach to bringing down the tax burden. I have outlined a few items that should be considered:
Develop a plan to reduce operating expenses for utility costs, township vehicles etc.
As a large town we have the infrastructure in place to help smaller towns and bring in additional revenue.
Since the highest percentage of property tax is to support our schools, we need to work closely with the school district officials to explore shared services opportunities.
One town I am aware of has a bank located in the municipal building that pays for all of the building utilities.
It has become abundantly clear that we still rely heavily on a manual process in the various township departments. People are told their permitting application in is engineering, when the paperwork is still with the building department. We need to automate the system so we know exactly where we are in the process. The automation will drive quicker turnaround times, improve customer satisfaction and make running the town more efficient.
- Debt Reduction Plan
In 2015 the democratic council has added over eight million of additional debt bringing the overall total close to 171 million. Low priority spending needs to be eliminated until the loss of the Sandy Storm ratables return to pre-storm levels. The town must live within its means.
- Increase Business Ratables
Many businesses don’t even consider Brick. We can turn this around by having the dedicated resource mentioned in the previous question work with the Chamber of Commerce and commercial realtors.To properly tackle the heroin and crime issues we are facing we might need to increase the size of the police force. The rest of the township workforce should remain at the current levels.
In 2014, Brick enacted a “Rental Responsibility” ordinance aimed at holding absentee landlords responsible for leasing their properties to tenants who commit crimes. What other specific proposals do you favor to reduce crime in “troubled” rental communities and neighborhoods where crime issues are recognized as being a heightened concern compared to the remainder of the township?
First I want to address the Landlord Responsibility Act. Prior to passage, attorneys and landlords expressed major concerns about the ability for them to enforce the ordinance because of the constraints placed on them under the current state landlord tenancy laws that supersede a local ordinance. The council approved this ordinance without taking into account the issues of the citizens and has opened the township up to potential lawsuits. This poorly written ordinance needs to be revisited.
Based on the comments we have heard from the citizens of Brick, the heroin epidemic and escalation of crime needs to be addressed as one.
I also would like to outline a few points from the Brick Republican Team’s plan for MAKING BRICK BETTER!
- Strengthen our Police Department’s Selective Enforcement Team, which is still rebuilding from previous budget staffing cuts.
- Partner with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to leverage resources, technology and manpower.
- Create police substations in drug hot spots and high crime areas and do more community policing.
- Instead of spending money on frivolous items we will divert resources on reducing the drug epidemic and fighting crime so our citizens can feel safe again.