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Township Council: Phil Kramer (D)

Name: Phil Kramer

Street Address: 429 Canal Rd.

Section of Town You Live In: Somerset

If incumbent, how many years have you served: Four

Do you belong to any civic organizations:

Present

  • Canal Fest Organizing team
  • Cedar Hill Cemetery – Board of Directors
  • Marconi Foundation – Trustee

Past

  • US Air Force B52 Pilot
  • Campaign to save East Millstone’s Post office
  • Freda Warner College Scholarship Award Committee Chairman
  • Taxpayers United in Franklin (TUF) – Director (public advocate)
  • Franklin Municipal Appointments
    • Advisory Board of Health – Chairman
    • Board of Adjustment (Zoning)
    • Municipal Ethics Board

What do you see as your three top issues, and how do you plan on dealing with them:

  • Spending – On the day I took office the nation was in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the great depression and the Town only had enough money to last 2 ½ years.  So I dug in my heels and made some hard choices. As a result Township spending is DOWN 5% and the size of government is DOWN 11%. To repeat, spending is lower now than in 2009, the year before I took office and taxes in Franklin are the 2nd lowest in Somerset County (Department of Community Affairs) (http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/dlgs/resources/property_tax.html). As a comparison during my opponent’s last term on Council Township spending was UP 38%.

    As a result of our tight money policies during my time in office we now have a much more stable financial outlook and maintained a AA+ bond rating, among the highest in the state.  That saves you money.

    The work is not done.  In order to continue mending our financial health I need to continue my work. For instance I have initiated a process for long term planning of road paving. For the first time we are looking years into the future to do road paving without the added expense of bonding.  I recommended and we have initiated a five year plan for water system repair that will save millions. I also fought for and now we have initiated work on a sidewalk plan that will increase safety and allow children to walk to school, saving our education system hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.  These are a sample of the things I initiated and intend to shepherd to save you money.  No one, at least in the last ten years since I’ve been attending Council meetings, has ever thought of, let alone attempted to plan in the way I have.  It is this hard work, tough decisions and thoughtful planning that can continue to bring this town to true financial stability.

    I am devoted to cutting spending, so much so when times were hardest I took a voluntary cut in pay.

  • Public safety – Crime is down in Franklin but that’s not good enough.  As indicated on this news website http://franklinreporter.com/2013/10/21/council-approves-55000-predictive-policing-software-contract/ I have championed our use of cutting edge software called Predpol (www.predpol.com). We are the first in New Jersey to use it. This has been shown in a town similar to ours to have reduced crime 19% in its first year and to continue to reduce crime in the following year. The cost of this service is less than the cost of a police car. It will never replace officers but it makes our hard working police force even more effective.

    I have ridden many times with our police officers on night patrol.  No other person on council has ever done so. I did it so I could understand what can be done to help them be even more effective. One thing I noticed was how long police spend after an arrest doing paper work. Clearly this is necessary but I’d rather have them on the road than in the office. I had an idea but I couldn’t make the change at the Council level so I worked with Senator Whelan’s staff to introduce S-3004 in Trenton which will reduce costs and the time spent on police paper work throughout the state. It is endorsed by New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.

    In addition we are once again hiring police officers and I plan to continue to do so as costs allow.

  • Recreation – At the time I came on Council there had been no new parks for well over a decade.  The only thing at Middlebush Park was a little used skateboard park and some open fields. For over a decade there had been design after design but nothing done. Even my opponent slowed things down by arguing we should build a southern park before Middlebush Park. To end the quagmire, in my first month in office, I called for a needs assessment to evaluate the resources available and the needs of our community competing for those resources.

    As a result Middlebush Park is nearly completed. Because we took the time to do the needs assessment there are no arguments.  We have already begun the engineering on that park in the southern part of town and have plans to keep building parks for 20 years.  The money to do this will come out of the existing recreation and open space fund so it will not increase taxes. If you re-elect me I will insure that we are true to our course and our spending.

Being on Council isn’t just about how you vote, it’s about building a consensus and developing the political will to accomplish the needs of the town.

Your Thoughts

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