Mayor of Brooklawn Wants to Secede from the State of NJ
Thursday, June 03, 2010
“We followed the rules. Up North, it is a game. We are not pawns. We are people.” Mayor John Soubasis
By Sara Martino
Brooklawn Mayor John Soubasis vented his frustrations with the mandated 2.5 percent cap imposed by the governor, saying it makes it quite a task to manage a municipality budget, during last week’s Borough Council meeting.
Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson (D-5), who was at the meeting, was the recipient of the mayor’s complaints.
“We did what we had to do. We worked hard, and followed the state rules,” the mayor complained.
“Our Borough Clerk wears many different hats to save money. We have part time positions in the court, a volunteer fire department with only a $20,000 budget, and eight full-time and two part-time officers in the Police Department,” Soubasis said.
“We run the town like a business, and we do more for less. We are a small community and we follow the state rules,” he said. “But, it seems that we have no power because of the state rules mandating the need to raise taxes on the working people.
“Our employees work for less pay than those of the surrounding communities. The state cap levy hurt our budget. We had to work with one arm tied behind our backs. Our biggest hardship was trying to negotiate employee contracts, trying not to lay off people,” he said.
“On our many visits to the state capital in Trenton, when we begged for discretionary aid, we were told to use our surplus money, ‘our rainy day fund’ that was being kept for emergencies,” he said.
Then, Soubasis repeated his previous statements made to then Governor Corzine last year: “Brooklawn would like to secede from the state. We followed the rules. Up North, it is a game. We are not pawns. We are people.”
Assemblyman Wilson, a former Camden City policeman among other important positions, said, “I sometimes view politics as a game. Say, for instance, I am for the Phillies and you are for the Dodgers, but no matter who wins we still remain friends.
“As your representative in the Fifth District, I will bring up your concerns to the governor’s office and will try to do everything that I can to aid your community,” he said, adding that he has been attending municipal meetings to observe what is happening in the Fifth District towns.
Mayor Soubasis asked Wilson and the clerk to investigate any possibilities with sharing additional services with the Borough of Westville, since it is in Gloucester County and not Camden County.
The 2010 local budget was read in title only. Following a public hearing on the budget, it was approved in the amount of $2,754,350 and must be reviewed by the state for clarification.
No comments or questions were made by the members of the public.
Sandblasting and painting of the water tank was recommended by Borough Engineer Chuck Riebel.
“You should ask for bids this summer, and be ready to paint around the month of September,” he said.