North Bergen Residents: Vote “NO” on the BOE School Budget Referendum

Dear Editor:

The residents of North Bergen have a right to know the specifics of the North Bergen BOE budget for its school realignment plan and how it will be paid for, before we vote on it at the Dec. 11 referendum, from 2 – 8 p.m.

This is OUR community, it doesn’t belong to a few officials who have not given us the specifics.

BOE seeks to spend $64,958,000 and claims “NO INCREASE IN SCHOOL TAXES!” and “Zero Impact on Taxpayers!” and gives 4 incomplete sentences explaining the financing of this plan.
One of the four sentences is: “$1.25 Million annual contribution from Township PILOT funds”, without naming the PILOT funds.
Since the Town is giving $1.25 million to the BOE, one of my questions is:  does this mean that Town taxes will rise, even if school taxes don’t?

I can’t possibly tell you all the questions (and suggestions) other residents might come up with, but the fact is, residents can’t voice them at a town hall meeting – WE HAVE BEEN STIFLED.
There haven’t been, and won’t be any Town Hall meetings for residents.
Stifling individuals and communities is what dictatorships do, not democracies.
I hope in the privacy of the voting booth residents, including Town employees will vote “no” on this referendum, because they too believe that the community should not be stifled.

A Town Hall meeting has a panel of officials with different specialties, who answer different questions.
Instead of holding a Town Hall meeting, North Bergen BOE instead opted for a few sentences* and included a phone number and email address in case someone had a question.
The Ramsey, NJ BOE is currently involved in a similar referendum for a school realignment – they held 18 Town Hall meetings before the vote!
* =    https://www.northbergen.k12.nj.us/apps/news/article/953905

This $65 million plan was unveiled to residents last week (many still haven’t received the official notice), and next week we’re supposed to vote on it.
Officials are not just rushing this, they also picked a strange time to hold this referendum; it gives the impression that they are being disingenuous.

If this referendum passes, don’t be surprised if your taxes go up hundreds of dollars, as they will for the average homeowner in Ramsey, NJ, if their referendum passes – they know that upfront, it’s been explained to them.

I am willing to pay higher taxes if need be, to alleviate school overcrowding, but I want to be respected as a member of the community, and given thorough and credible information, as well as a voice in this process, at a town hall meeting, with other residents.

Until then, I urge North Bergen residents to vote “no” on December 11.

Robert Walden

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