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Colombi Ready to Announce Another Run for Commissioner

The mayor will make an announcement about her candidacy Saturday at the annual Haddonfield Mayor's Breakfast.

Tish Colombi, the borough mayor, is set to announce her candidacy for another four years on the Board of Commissioners.

Colombi, who has been one of three borough commissioners for the past 28 years and the mayor for the past 10, said she will make an announcement about her candidacy at the annual Mayor's Breakfast Saturday morning at the First Presbyterian Church.

When asked by a reporter if she intended to declare her candidacy she said: "Can't abandon the ship in the middle of the stream."

Commissioners Ed Borden and Jeff Kasko on Monday were not ready to say if they were running for another four-year term.

"You'll have to ask my wife," Borden said with a smile. He said he will not likely make an announcement on his candidacy on Saturday.

Kasko echoed Borden about running.

"We'll see," he said. Kasko also said he did not intend to announce his intentions on Saturday.

Colombi, Borden and Kasko are all scheduled to deliver their annual state of the borough addresses at the breakfast and the Lions Club citizen of the year will also be announced.

Borden has been a commissioner for eight years and Kasko for four. The borough is under the commission form of government in which three commissioners are elected and then elect a mayor among themselves.

The borough is also under a nonpartisan form of government in which party affiliations are not declared. But for the record, Colombi and Kasko are Republicans and Borden is a Democrat. 

The election will be held on the second week of May and candidates will have to file a nominating petition with Camden County by March 15.

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Dawn January 15, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Good luck winning whith the way she is pushing for Bancroft. There are a lot of residents right now that are no longer fans...
PJ January 16, 2013 at 02:23 AM
"Abandon ship" is an apropos idiom despite the mixed metaphor.
Jeff H January 16, 2013 at 02:42 PM
This town can ill afford four more years of the status-quo, with Columbi and Borden advocating for 'this is how we have always done it' and Kasko advocating a more advanced and progressive way of running the borough. Let's get some new thinking and new life into the decision making that occurs at the highest levels of the local government!
Jim January 16, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Tish has been running the roads and public service we have the worst roads and more debt since she has been in office. Last election she said this was her last 4 years ,every hear of term limits . We do not need any more suffering from Tish
Joe Taxpayer January 16, 2013 at 03:13 PM
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/01/nj_property_taxes_rise_slightl.html#incart_m-rpt-1 There is a comparison calculator in the story. Haddonfield pays more than double the county tax average and almost double the school average. Town County Average County Bill Average Municipal Bill Average School Bill Average Total Bill Percent Change from 2011 Statewide Average $1,425.45 $2,324.66 $4,120.16 $7,870.28 1.7% Haddonfield Camden $3,532.61 $2,326.00 $7,105.13 $12,963.74 2.6%
David Siedell January 16, 2013 at 05:57 PM
@JoeT Bring the filter out to the "Haddons" and more dtails emerge: Haddon $1,890.80 $1,291.26 $3,850.06 $7,032.12 3.6% Haddon Heights $2,035.83 $1,730.82 $3,982.73 $7,749.38 4.0% Haddonfield $3,532.61 $2,326.00 $7,105.13 $12,963.74 2.6% The big gorilla on this table is school taxes. Not because we are "run-away" spenders, in fact we have the lowest per-pupil school budget in the area. It is because we get little to no State funding. On the County side we are a "funding supplier" to the other municipalities unfortunately for us also. Herb Hess on HaddonfieldTalks has spoken for a long time about our municipal tax. Part of the reason our yearly is higher is because we are actually more debt adverse than the other towns in our area. We do abide by the "get it when we can afford it" school of thought. Unfortunately that means can buy less at any given time and can't take advantage of economies of scale. A good example is with our roads. We do pay as we go, about 1M a year. Public Works did a road inventory of all roads in need of serious repair. If Finance at the time were willing to float a bond to fix all the roads, we'd have better streets and long-term debt. But isn't long-term debt bad? Well if we had borrowed the money then when Oil was $ 40 a barrel (main ingredient of roads) instead of the over $100 it has been recently, we'd have had scale economy and savings over LIFE of the debt... and more roads fixed.
David Siedell January 16, 2013 at 06:29 PM
The School Board on the other hand is in the same Church but different Pew. Because we are nearly entirely funded by local taxes they need to get the biggest bang for every buck they spend. They are much better at balancing year to year spending with long term bond financing. This is a big knock NO voters point at: the BOE has too much "Debt" already. They do preventative maintenance, but sometimes you have to look at the array of priorities. Suppose a chunk of a sidewalk crumbles, maybe you would go out the next day and get it repaired, but you would pay the concrete guy a full day's wages for a 1 hour patch job. Wouldn't it be better to wait until you have a day's worth of work before he came out? The downside is you have to live with a little eyesore until then. You pay 1 day for say 5 jobs instead of 5 days worth if you did it as you went. (edited because I can't type today!)
Joe Taxpayer January 16, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Dave, I agree is it a crime that our state aid (ie state income, sales and other taxes Haddonfield residents pay) do not find their way back to us and we are forced to make up the difference for our own use while paying for someone elses benefit too In essence, we pay 2-3 times our fair share yet as I highlighted Haddonfield elects the people who are taking from us. Weird. The school tax is approx 70% payroll. Out of $35.8M in spending, $1.95M was for debt service this year. Hardly the cause of our high taxes. For comparision, benefits costs are $5.4M. Now which one is providing value to the taxpayer and students or conversely causing people to move out of town? http://www.haddonfield.k12.nj.us/BOE/Attachments/UserFriendly%20Budget%202012-13.pdf
Pro-Haddonfield January 16, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Has Kasko officially announced his position on Bancroft? If he has I haven't seen it but have been looking.
Jeff H January 16, 2013 at 10:49 PM
JTP: Why aren't you railing about the 1920's era 'longevity bonus' that each and every public employee in Haddonfield receives and has been receiving since, well, the 1920's? Much of this time period was presided over by the current mayor. It's time to turn the page and begin a new approach to managing our town. Start with privatizing the water and sewer utility before it swallows our balance sheet whole!
Jeremiah Wright January 17, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Personally I'm a big fan of paying people to outline the town's potholes in spray paint. Because - you know - otherwise they would be invisible to whoever the brainless drones are that we pay to fix them. I especially like it when we pay someone again - R&V? - several months later - to outline the same unfilled potholes with even more spray paint. And lets pay for even more sidewalks to nowhere because - you know - there was apparently an alarming need that arose out of the clear blue sky. - Taxed Enough Already. VOTE NO ON THE BANCROFT BOONDOGGLE.
David Siedell January 17, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Oh Jeff, Let's wait until the Bancroft is over before we start debating the commissioners' race. But for your "this is how we've always done it" you must have missed a few changes around here over the last 4 years. For starters Tish and Public Works: we have 1/2 the workforce we did 4 yers ago, HALF! The rest were retired or laid-off. We outsourced trash, leaves, and went seasonal staff on other routine needs. Ed and Public safety we combined our courts with 2 other towns, reduced headcount and negotiated a favorable contract with the Police. Jeff and Finance created, implemented and followed CABC, the citizen's advisory board to help scour the books for savings and identify areas of waste. That doesn't sound like business as usual to me. Oh, and unless Tish is well into her second century on this Earth she hasn't presided since the 20's.
Joe Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Thanks for reminding me about that Jeff. I am happy you know about that nonsense because most people don't and it's not insignificant amounts of money. It's the same with the step system. What? some will say. Well let's say you think an employee is getting a 2% raise but gets to move up the step ladder. That could be worth another 2-5% and bam there is a 4-7% raise...anyone seeing that out there plus pensions and great healthcare benefits. I haven't been able to locate the longevity details per employee online. Can you direct me? I am all for a new approach. A business like approach. Pay for performance. Privatizing the water/sewer is a good one. We need someone to do an analysis on what it is worth to Aqua or NJAMCO and get the heck out of a business that is not a core compentency. The more we can discuss this and share details, the better we will all be. Thanks
Joe Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 02:33 AM
Dave, it is nice to see some progress and yes we have less employees but guess what our taxes aren't any lower now why is that? How can costs be the same or higher with less employees unless the costs for those who remain have exploded like via pensions and especially healthcare. Imagine how high our tax bills would be if we had the same staff counts. We spend more on pensions than we do to run the library. Do taxpayers benefit from struggling to pay their property tax bills to fund someone else's retirement when their own is in question. http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/pdf/2012_Adopted_Budget-State_Approved.pdf
David Siedell January 17, 2013 at 02:44 AM
@JoeT, I agree. You hit it on the head that pension costs, over many, many years has caught up with us. I'll leave that debate for another day but I will say that problem is much bigger than a local government can control. It is the same for the town, the BOE, county and State. The BOE in the last round did win some concessions on current employees and benefit contribution. Our severe headcount reduction at the town level effectively did the same thing. Unlike Bonds that retire on a schedule, the pension snowball kept on rolling right over EVERY town in New Jersey, not just ours.
Jeff H January 17, 2013 at 01:38 PM
Dave, too little too late when we are already in the hole. Why did all of this change wait until the last minute? There was ample opportunity to make these changes years ago and nothing happened until people rumbled and complained. And BTW we have always staffed leaf clean up with temporary staff. Anyway, I expect our leaders to lead, not follow, and that requires GETTING OUT IN FRONT of the issues, not lagging behind them. Certainly that is what you folks espouse at Wharton don't you?
Joe Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Jeff, Dave et al, Look at page 8 of the boro budget - deferred school taxes. Do you know what this is and how it works? It is used as a revenue source but it is not sustainable. Once at 100%, the amount used becomes another tax increase. How much deferred school tax revenue is being used in the current operating budget? This is what took down Medford. http://articles.philly.com/2012-03-11/news/31145552_1_tax-rate-municipal-taxes-tax-increase-last-year in 2008, they uses over $2M MUNICIPAL BUDGET ADOPTED During their meeting on July 22, the Commissioners adopted the Municipal Budget for 2008. The budget projects $13,839,793 in revenue, from three main sources: • Surplus (inc. deferred school taxes) $ 2,320,000 BTW, the budget in 2012 was more than 08 despite all of the outsourcing claimed. Clearly its not saving us money. I bet the commissioners won't tell us the truth on this.
David Siedell January 17, 2013 at 03:26 PM
@JoeT, The borough is the tax collector for all taxes. Any taxes collected for the BOE in the current quarter are not paid out until the next quarter. The Borough is always holding deferred money usually in the amount of 1/4 the BOE tax, or around 8M. I didn't look at page 8 as I'm at work but that is what it probably is.
David Siedell January 17, 2013 at 03:28 PM
or with the smaller amount could be rebates from senior-freeze programs or some other rebate program for an eligible property.
Joe Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 05:06 PM
Dave, the use of using deferred school taxes is a budget trick to hide the fact that you don't have sustainable revenues to fund expenses. When the use - each year counts against the total - equals 100, the amount used is now due and it will create a budget revenue shortfall. We are at 87% There should be a resolution each year adopting its use and the amount which I am having trouble finding.
David Siedell January 17, 2013 at 09:28 PM
I'm going to answer this as the President of the Haddonfield Civic Association: Go to a commissioner meeting and ask this question to Jeff Kasko Commissioner of Finance for Haddonfield. Get an answer or be left with more questions, then use this and other outlets to explain it or to apply pressure to get clarity. The HCA's camera is at almost every meeting. Everyone can then see the context of the question asked by you and the quality of the answer said by him. I applaud both sides for doing their Civic duty. Haddonfield United and One Haddonfield are volunteered by our neighbors. You may not agree with one side or the other but take a minute an appreciate they have one huge goal in common, the welfare of Haddonfield and its residents. Just coming on message boards and asking questions is a good start. We as citizens are asked to supply time, talent or treasure. We are always asked for Treasure! The best part is the more time and talent you spend the less treasure is needed.
Joe Taxpayer January 17, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Thanks Dave. I'm a little camera shy though. Maybe the Commissioners should be more proactive and transparent with the data and I wouldn't have to work google so hard. I am sure that Bill Duhart would happily take a monthly letter from the Mayor and explaining these things. Here is what I just located - the 2011 audit. See page 26 of the document - sheet 13 which shows the school tax use and remaining balance. This is all public information but the details and explanations from the commissionerson why they are using this accounting trick are weak at best. http://www.haddonfieldnj.org/pdf/2012-update/2011-Annual-Financial-Stmt.pdf We need to know what made up the $1.7M of surplus used in the 2012 budget. If it was deferred school taxes, then we have a big bill coming our way. Bill, it's easy. Ask the Mayor how much deferred school tax was used in the 12 budget and how much they anticipate using in the 13 budget? Then ask, once the allocation is all gone, where will this money come from? See if you get a response
Jeff H January 17, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Dave, no sermon required. I spent 5 years on the Shade Tree Commission where a dedicated group of residents applied for and received $45k in grant money to perform a past due and sorely needed tree inventory. You know what we discovered? 1,700 of our borough trees are dead or will be dead within a few years. They will come down whether they are ignored or not. You know what else? NOTHING has been done about this issue. It's been 2+ years and only a small percentage of the trees that require attention have received it. Sound familiar? Think STREETS. Now you tell me, what additional meetings should we attend in order to get the attention of the Commissioners? We gave the time and talent. Apparently that wasn't enough? TWO YEARS Dave.

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