2010-06-03 / Front Page
Tinton Falls elections will be moved to fall
Boro cites cost savings, higher voter turnout
TINTON FALLS — In a move that is expected to eventually save close to $100,000 and boost voter turnout, the Tinton Falls Borough Council agreed to move the municipal election date to coincide with the fall general election.
By a 4-1 vote at the May 18 meeting, the council adopted an ordinance that will move the nonpartisan spring municipal election to November beginning in 2011. Councilman Scott Larkin voted against the measure.
Borough Clerk Karen Mount-Taylor said the measure would save the borough about $22,000 a year and more than $99,000 over a 10-year period.
“That’s a lot of money to be saving,” council President Duane Morrill said.
Mount-Taylor explained that the borough has staggered elections for mayor and council, so there is an election every other year.
She also said the borough would save money in the case of a runoff, which has been rare for the borough.
“We’ve only had one runoff in 20 years,” she said. “Each year, I have to provide additional money if we had to have a runoff.
The change from spring to fall elections was made possible when the state Legislature passed a bill that permits nonpartisan municipal elections to be held on the same day as general elections.
State Sen. Stephen Sweeney, who was serving as acting governor because then- Gov. Jon Corzine was out of the state, signed the bill into law on Jan. 14.
Mount-Taylor said that moving the election to November helps lighten the load of the Clerk’s Office because the borough will now receive help from the county.
“It makes it easier,” she said. “They do all the advertisements for the election in November.
“A municipal clerk in a nonpartisan town would have to do all that advertising,” she added. “It is cumbersome and worrisome because of the fact that you are doing it on your own.”
Mount-Taylor also expects savings because employees will not have to work an extra election in the spring.
“It is going to save us money as far as employees working that day,” she said.
“Every other year it was an extra election and we paid for everything.
“In November we pay a percentage with the county,” she added.
The structure of the borough government will remain unchanged, she added.
“We will remain nonpartisan and we will have a separate section on the ballot,” Mount-Taylor said.
She said she expects the change to benefit the borough and increase voter turnout.
“Quite frankly I think it will be a great tool for Tinton Falls, because I’ve seen elections where we are lucky if we get 23 percent of the voters come out in the municipal election,” she said. “It seems that people seem to come out more in November.”
As a result of the change, each of the five current council members will have their terms extended by six months.
“That is the determination of the director of law that whoever is in office at that time has their time extended by six months,” she said. “We are going from July 1 to Jan. 1.”
Larkin explained his no vote, saying his concern is that Tinton Falls will lose some of the focus because of the election season.
“When we were out campaigning, we were the only show in town,” he said. “Mike [Skudera], Nancy [Fama] and went to a number of events; we went door to door almost every day.
“All of the questions and all of the dialogue were related to Tinton Falls. That experience really helped jump-start me and immerse me in some of the issues I was going to have to deal with on council.”
Larkin predicted that the election would lose some of its luster with the change.
“I just felt that as a stand-alone election, it sort of increased the intensity and focus on municipal issues,” he said. “I just worry that when the election goes into a larger pool that some of the local issues are going to lose some of that focus.”
Larkin, who is serving his first term on council, admitted that the savings are beneficial, but the council must look at the impact the move will have.
“Part of it was my experience on that local election,” he said. “It was such a great experience, and campaigning taught me so much about what people’s concerns were, and I’d hate to see that go away.”
Larkin wasn’t the only one worried about the impact of moving the election.
“I’m afraid we are going to lose the focus of just Tinton Falls if you move the election to the same day as the county,” resident Leo Lomangino said. “I understand this is big savings, and I’m all for saving money, but I wonder if each one of you would feel the same way having your sign next to all the other signs.”
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