Manchester Patch asked each of the four candidates vying for three Township Council seats this November to complete a questionnaire addressing some of the issues affecting residents. One candidate will be featured each day this week.
The third candidate profile comes from James A. Vaccaro, 72, a retired manager for the United States Treasury Department and current self-employed forensic tax accountant who has lived in the Renaissance community for over 12 years. Vaccaro is chairman of Manchester Planning Board, a position he has held for six of his eight years on the board.
Before coming to Manchester, Vaccaro was a volunteer firefighter in Long Branch for 32 years and an 11-year member of that township's Board of Education. He is a former member of the Board of Governors of Jersey Shore Medical Center and was awarded United States Congressional and New Jersey Senate recognition for Distinguished Community Service. Vaccaro, who is running under the Continued Good Government banner, also served as the chairman of Renaissance's Finance Committee and the president of its Italian-American Club.
Q: What do you see as the biggest issue facing Manchester and what do you plan to do to address it? Taxes have steadily increased over the years — what plans, if any, do you have to reduced spending and stabilize tax rates?
A: The biggest issue facing Manchester is working very hard to control and to maintain our real estate taxes at an affordable rate. Some of the various factors that must be utilized in arriving at the tax rate are the following:
- Living within the 2 percent spending cap.
- Providing all of our residents with the services they need, expect and should receive.
- Decrease in State aid and grants that are available to our Township.
My action items would be to analyze and scrutinize fixed expenses, payroll expenses, expenses for health insurance, pension costs, and variable expenditures as well as other controllable costs in an attempt to minimize their budget effect and tax impact.
With controlled and planned growth of attracting additional property rateables, being proactive seeking available grant funds, greater utilization of alternative energy and searching for available energy plans we could generate additional tax revenues to reduce our operating budget thus a reduction or a stabilization of our real estate taxes.
In summary, we must be creative and proactive in our efforts to reduce some spending and increase revenue enhancement.
Q: Safety on Route 70 through the township has been a big problem, with serious and sometimes deadly crashes becoming almost the norm. The Township Council has asked for state help with improving safety but hasn't received much response — how would you address the issue?
A: First, I would seek advice of our Chief of Police to assist in the remedy of the problem at hand. I recognize that Route 70 is a State highway and I know that the State has funding constraints to assist in the widening of the highway. Our Township can suggest corrective actions with recommendations from our Police Department, transportation experts, and County and State officials. The Mayor, Council and Department Administrators have asked for the installation of Jersey dividers and certain sections of Route 70 to be redesigned hoping to decrease deadly vehicle crashes and/or lessen serious vehicle accidents.
I would encourage driving seminars to be available to all drivers pertaining to safe driving, have increased presence and designated safety inspections of drivers to enforce driving rules and continue pursuing the State for corrective action.
Q: Township officials have said that it is difficult to draw new business into Manchester because of various environmental regulations. What ideas do you have that could help grow business in town?
A: Being the Chairman of the Planning Board, I know how important sound planning and land use are in the development of our Township. My goal is to guide the Township toward controlled growth and attract property rateables while keeping the character and nature of Manchester as a semi-rural community.
My action items would be the following:
- Before we embark in bringing new businesses into Manchester we have to ensure that we have our infrastructure in place, such as, available water, sewerage, roadways, etc.
- Discuss with the Mayor, Administration and the Town Planner how we can effectively attract new businesses into Manchester.
- We should create a model development plan acceptable to the regulatory agencies that control what can be developed in our Township.
- We must be creative in structuring a tax incentive plan to encourage and grow business development within the Township.
Q: Is there a way to rehabilitate Pine Lake, and if so, could it be done in a way that would not be burdensome to taxpayers?
A: I would discuss with the Mayor and Administration as to what actions to date have been taken to rehabilitate Pine Lake. I would encourage us (the Township) to seek the services of various agencies to advise how Pine Lake can be rehabilitated, the project costs and the length of time to remedy the problem. All data must be measured against the tax impact to the local tax rate.
I would see if Pine Lake would qualify as part of Governor Chris Christie’s Comprehensive Plan of Action — a commitment to restore and prevent further damage to the Barnegat Bay. Hoping that Pine Lake does qualify, State grant money may be made available to assist in the rehabilitation of Pine Lake.
Q: Though scheduled to be completed soon, construction on Route 530 in Whiting has been ongoing for longer than Ocean County officials anticipated and has become a nuisance to some residents. Going forward, how would you work with county officials to ensure other projects are completed on time and without much impact to residents?
A: Discuss the ongoing projects with our Department Administrators to secure basic data. Utilize contact points to gain additional knowledge of the project at hand, discuss the project Estimated Completion Date and other relevant facts. Timely relay to our residents any available information so adjustment, which might impact their lives, can be made without additional stress. Continue to develop and generate working relationships, establish team building with State, County and Federal officials and other various regulatory agencies to insure that projects are completed timely.
Q: Manchester's police department, along with township officials, worked on a plan to bolster the force without greatly impacting the budget. Do you feel the township's police force is now staffed at an adequate level?
A: I have been advised that the Police Department has worked with the Township to lessen the impact on our local real estate tax rate by making substantial labor contract concessions. I believe the Police Department is understaffed due to an influx of retirements. However, that being said, the department does an outstanding job in public safety, covering 82-plus square miles of the Township and protecting our residents.
Q: Manchester is unique in that the township is home to a sizeable senior population as well as many younger families. How do you plan to address the needs of both of these groups?
A: First, I represent all of the citizens of Manchester, everyone throughout the 82-plus square miles of the Township. I make a personal commitment to everyone that I will be available to you 24/7. I promise to both groups, the younger families and the senior population, that I will fight to insure an affordable Manchester, continue to and look toward increasing our quality services for all of our Manchester residents.
I am dedicated and committed to everyone, your families and the children of Manchester. I want to lead Manchester to a better tomorrow making Manchester the best place to live in Ocean County.
I have the education, knowledge, expertise, leadership and management skills and experience in government to address everyone’s needs.