Rising Like a Phoenix

This is an impassioned plea. People of Highlands, I’m going to say it again. And again. And I’m going to continue saying it until you wake up, p

ay attention, and take action while you still have the chance, before all the taxpayers have to pay even more money and while you still have a little bit of control of your town. I say all this because the world in general knows how much I love Highlands, how happy I was to be married there and raise my children in an atmosphere of love, freedom, fun, health, education and everything else wonderful and rarely found together so neatly and plentiful as in Highlands. While my body is no longer living there, my heart still is. They say once you get the sand between your toes, you can’t leave Highlands. The truth is, Highlands can never leave you. So I am fearful at what is happening to this beautiful town. Tomorrow Night… Wednesday Night, June 2nd at 8PM… yet again, a $10 million…that’s a dollar sign, a one, and seven zeroes, is being introduced. On the surface, and without legal scrutiny, it appears to be very much like the ordinance that was just shot down by Councilmembers KL Martin and Linda Mazzola. So it makes me wonder….has the majority or just the mayor talked to one of the two dissenters into changing his or her mind and approving it on a second go around? Could it be true that in spite of all the people coming out to that meeting when it was defeated, they are not going to be listened to? That meeting remember, was poorly advertised as only being in person and not virtually available to all. Has FEMA promised their half of the $10 million in writing but nobody else can know about it yet? OK, they are all possibilities. Now read the new Section 8 of this soon to be introduced ordinance. That gives the borough the right to meet its obligations with ad valorem taxes WITHOUT LIMITATION!! That means, don’t pay any attention to that low figure on how your taxes would be impacted that you were given when the ordinance was first introduced and defeated. If you can add ad valorem taxes WITHOUT LIMITATION, you don’t even know what the tax rate will be! Then look at the section that tells you what the governing body can do if they do get grants…like the one some think they’re getting from FEMA (even though FEMA doesn’t put it in writing!) That section could mean that the powers that be can take that grant and apply it to paying off the bond….and still tax you for the entire $10 million…what with those ad valorem taxes added. It is absolutely fearful what this governing body is doing. They’re talking bonding for $10 million a second time. And they’re doing this one at a meeting where the agenda and the proposed resolutions and ordinances are downright difficult to find! Check out the Highlands NJ web page, the official page of the borough of Highlands. Try to find the meeting. It’s there and you can find it. But it isn’t easy!!!! Then take another look and seek out the resolutions and ordinances. Think about timing, All of a sudden, the borough has decided to change its webpage, so when you look for the usual suspects, whoops, they aren’t there….you have to keep searching. Kind of like the recent ordinance when it was so essential to pass a law allowing Bingo on Sundays! Really? How many applications have been made for that? That it be so essential during a pandemic, when people are out of jobs, losing their homes, and struggling, to waste money amending an ordinance that no one cares about?. Doesn’t it scare anyone that this is the second time the $10 million bond ordinance is being acted on in less than a month, even though it was voted down? Yet it’s difficult to see it in advance. It is only advertised perhaps 30 hours before the meeting and even then not easy to find. Does anyone wonder what it cost to advertise it the first time? And now a second time? Does anyone ask what the attorney charges to re-write what he wrote the first time with whatever changes there might be in it? Or, for that matter, why he didn’t include any chances in the first place? Does anyone question why there hasn’t been an executive session since it was voted down the first time ? Does that mean NOBODY except whoever told the attorney to draw it up again has even seen it, let alone know what it’s about? Or does it mean perhaps some of the council has talked about it, but not the majority? For that matter, there were many complaints about this $10 million ordinance for a building that’s supposed to be around for at least 30 years. People clearly offered other things to thing about, other ways to save money, other ideas for the building? Don’t any of these things matter to the governing body? Don’t citizens’ ideas mean enough to even be considered? If that one ordinance isn’t enough to get you interested enough to fight for your town, look at the resolutions. It’s just barely the middle of the year and already there have been 132 resolutions introduced. Compare that to other towns. Does whoever drums up all these resolutions…and check how many of them are resolutions to amend resolutions……think this town is so terrible it needs 132 resolutions in addition to 20 something new ordinances to change it? Doesn’t anyone on council love Highlands like I do? Do you, the taxpayer, think this beautiful piece of heaven on earth, with the nicest people in the world, need so many changes to make it what? Less perfect? Please love the Highlands I love.

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