State Aid to Our Public Schools Falls Short

During the current school year, 2017 – 2018, all New Jersey public school districts received modest increases in state aid. However many local school leaders and other education advocates say the funding falls far short of what is needed.

Here are the facts:

– While the Little Falls Public School District’s 2017 -2018 state budget allocation of $575,388 represents a 6.46% increase over its 2016 – 2017 state education budget allocation of $540,494, it is 27.3% less than the allocation of $ 791,837 which the district received in 2009 – 2010.

– While the Passaic Valley Regional High School’s 2017 – 2018 state budget allocation of $1,080,544 represents a 6.62% increase over its 2016 – 2017 state education budget allocation of $1,013,467, it is 25.8% less than the high school’s 2009 – 2010 allocation of $1,456,815.

Recently, in an effort to fix inequalities in State School Aid, ten (10) New Jersey school districts have declared themselves overtaxed and underfunded. These districts intend to petition the state education commissioner to fix inequalities in state school aid as a precursor to a potential lawsuit against the state.

Clearly the two Little Falls school districts have been underfunded for years. This has added to the property tax burden of Little Falls’ residents.

Later this month the New Jersey Department of Education will release its 2018- 2019 school aid funding guidelines. So now is the time for Little Falls’ taxpayers, parents, teachers, school board members, school superintendents, and elected officials to advocate for adequate state funding for our township’s public schools.

As an initial step, the Little Falls’ Public School District and the Passaic Valley Regional High School should join with other school districts in circulating petitions demanding that the state education commissioner fix the inequalities in state school aid.

Carpe Diem!

Advertisements

A New & Improved Township Web Site – You Be the Judge!

Last week the Township launched its new web site.

The web site was built by the Connecticut based company QScend Technologies, Inc., with input from the Township’s Administration, the Technology Committee, the Township Council and Mayor James Damiano.

According to the official announcement, the web site offers new navigational tools and includes a new menu, a streamlined calendar, a news section, etc. It is designed to facilitate easier access to information which is what residents of Little Falls have been asking for.

You be the judge.

Visit the new web site by clicking here.

Once you have reviewed the web site leave a reply on this blog and send your comments to Mayor James Damiano here.

Resident input is important in all Township matters – Let your voice be heard!

We Need More Gadflies!

A recent editorial in The Record “In praise of the much needed town gadfly” highlighted the vital role gadflies play in society.

A gadfly is an individual who seeks to upset the status quo by posing novel questions. Socrates pointed out that a gadfly was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing such individuals who were irritating could be very high.

Thus, a gadfly may be referred to as either a citizen activist or an annoying citizen by municipal leaders – but clearly they are needed!

The Record’s editorial noted that “….We need more gadflies. We need young ones, as well as older ones. We need concerned citizens who push and prod public officials. Sometimes it’s annoying. But sometimes it’s essential. Sometimes it is the way the public at large wakes up and joins the choir of questioning….”

So now is the time, as we make our New Year’s resolutions, to become an involved and engaged residents of Little Falls by participating at Town Council meetings.

During calendar year 2018, meetings of the Little Falls’ Town Council will be held at 7:00 PM in the Municipal Building, 225 Main Street, as follows:

Workshop meetings will be held on January 8, February 12, March 12, April 9, May 7, June 11, July 9, August 13, September 10, October 15, November 19, and December 10.

Regular Council meetings will be held on January 29, February 26, March 26, April 23, May 21, June 25, July 23, August 27, September 24, October 29, November 26, and December 17.

During each Council meeting Little Falls residents have two opportunities to make public comments.

Let your voice be heard.

Together we can make a difference for a better Little Falls.

Big advocacy in Little Falls

News item from The Record/Herald News – Saturday – December 30, 2017

Big advocacy in Little Falls

===============================

Vigil of Concern Photo

Little Falls activist Arnold Korotkin, at center with sunglasses and sign, during a rally in Little Falls in 2010. (Photo: Chris Pedota/NorthJersey.com File)

=================================

Through the years, resident activist and an adjunct sociology professor at Montclair State University, Arnold Korotkin, operates a blog, The Gadfly.

Korotkin has successfully advocated for a second public comment time to be added to Township Council sessions.

He has also argued for more transparency on the township’s website.

“There would be an ordinance or resolution being discussed, but it would only be available 15 minutes before a council meeting,” said Korotkin, 72, who puts many of his thoughts into The Gadfly.

While he said incremental improvements in government are important, he’s not afraid to take on big issues.

“To bring about change, you have to show people that there’s a conflict. You’re stirring the kettle. I’ve written things that people wish I never wrote.”

Mayor Damiano’s Traffic Recommendations

Mark Twain once said that “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”

Well here in Little Falls everyone talks about the traffic but nobody has done anything about it.

Perhaps not until now.

Recently, on Facebook, Mayor James Damiano posted some of his ideas for addressing traffic congestion on Main Street and Long Hill Road.

“One of the major issues we currently face in LF is the ongoing Rt46/3 project which is causing a traffic nightmare for us.

The DOT has assured me that much of the cut through traffic in LF will be alleviated once this is complete because of the efficiency that this project is supposed to bring to the Highway, causing no reason for people to detour through side streets like Main Street.

There are also a number of ideas that I have that would allow for a much better flow of traffic when heading East bound on Main Street.

The first major back up really begins to occur at Union Ave, but only due to the back up at Stevens Ave. Stevens Ave would be much better off if parking was eliminated on one or both sides of the street allowing the free flow of traffic through that area, in addition to the stop line needing to be moved closer to the light so that more cars could pass through during each green light, as well as possibly adjusting the timing of that light.

Next, the major backup of traffic occurs at Browertown Road, where a left turn lane would be appropriate with a passing lane on the right, which would require some currently private land to be gifted to the Township.

Finally, if the timing of the light on the top of Long Hill Road was adjusted appropriately, traffic would flow more thoroughly onto the newly designed Rt46/3.

Unfortunately, the 46/3 project still has about 4.5 years remaining, and until that time, traffic will be part of our reality, although the other items I discussed above may help a bit.”

Apparently Mayor Damiano has a vision for ameliorating the traffic snafu’s along Main Street and Long Hill Road.

Little Falls residents should take this opportunity to email their traffic concerns and suggestions to Mayor Damiano at jdamiano@lfnj.com and also post their comments on this blog.

Together we can make a difference for a better Little Falls.

Changes are coming to the Singac Industrial Zone

On August 3, 2017 the Little Falls Planning Board approved The Singac Industrial Zone Redevelopment Report which identified 15 properties https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rudy-news-items/J5-WF1odM3k that met the criteria for redevelopment and rehabilitation under Section 5 of the Redevelopment Law, N.J.S.A.40A:12A-5.

The Singac Industrial Zone is in the shape of a triangle, the borders include Main Street between Dewey and South Grey Rock Avenues on the north and the NJ Transit railroad tracks on the south.

The Singac Industrial Zone Redevelopment Report was reviewed by the Town Council and on December 18th the Council passed a resolution designating the Little Falls Redevelopers, LLC as the “conditional developer” of the Singac Industrial Zone.

The resolution authorizes the Township attorney to negotiate and prepare a Conditional Redeveloper’s Agreement. This agreement with the Little Falls Redevelopers will specify the terms and conditions for the planning, construction or undertaking of any development project or redevelopment work within the designated Singac Industrial Zone pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-8.

So who are the players?

The Little Falls Development LLC is an affiliate of JMF Properties which is based in Whippany, New Jersey. JMF Properties has over 20 years of development experience and has constructed both residential units and commercial and retail spaces.

The JMF Properties web site states that the organization …”has a passion for developing underutilized and forgotten properties into residential and commercial assets that make a lasting and positive impact on various communities…..”

It’s been reported that JMF Properties is seeking to purchase the following three properties in the Singac Industrial Zone: the Rainbow Food Service – Caterers, 3 S. Grey Rock Avenue; the 381 Bar and Grill, 381 – 385 Main St; and the Falls Metal Works, Inc, 409 – 415 Main Street.

What’s next?

The Little Falls Development LLC, in conjunction with the town planner Jeffrey Janota, will draft a redevelopment plan for the Singac Industrial Zone. The plan will establish the permissible uses, densities and other land use controls with respect to the 15 identified properties.

In addition, the plan will offer incentives, such as Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) in order to attract developers and to help offset their construction expenses.

Once actualized the redevelopment initiative will bring new ratables to the Township.

The future for the Singac Industrial Zone looks bright.

Mayor Damiano Wants Your Suggestions

Mayor James Damiano, in a recent Facebook comment about the development of luxury town houses at 112 Stevens Avenue, stated that “…. no one wants to pay increased taxes. However, the only way to alleviate the ever increasing expenses is to increase revenues, and promote good redevelopment, thereby increasing your tax base. I am open to any other suggestions as to how revenues can be increased in a town that is already nearly fully developed.”

Some suggestions for the Mayor to consider might include a) develop the Rose Street Property; b) do something with the vacant Walgreen’s property; c) stop demolishing property in the flood zone and elevate the existing structures; d) develop a plan to attract businesses to Little Falls; e) install solar panels on municipal buildings/property and public school buildings; and f) develop a plan for the old municipal building/police station.

This is an opportunity for all Little Falls residents to share your suggestions with Mayor Damiano as to how the township can increase its tax base and generate additional revenue in order to stabilize property taxes.

Seize this opportunity and send your suggestions to Mayor Damiano at: jdamiano@lfnj.com

Let your voice be heard and let’s join together for a better Little Falls!