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Borough Voters Approve Budget, Reelect Joan Crick



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Borough Voters Approve Budget, Reelect Joan Crick

By John Voket

Residents and taxpayers residing in the Borough of Newtown turned out for two votes during the past week. Taxpayers in attendance at an April 28 budget meeting ratified a proposed borough budget that would levy an exclusive .85 mill tax rate on all property owners to fund a $200,752 spending package.

A mill represents one dollar in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

Then, on May 2, registered voters residing in the borough returned incumbent Warden Joan Crick to her post for another two years. While Ms Crick won, by 22 votes, the contest in which she was the sole elected official facing opposition, the turnout of 262 residents was something of a historic occurrence.

According to several local officials who reside in the borough, the election, which costs taxpayers more than $5,500 to stage, usually draws few voters. Ms Crick told The Bee Wednesday that she attributes the high voter turnout this year to the fact that there was an opposition candidate.

“It’s typically only 30 or 40 voters who come out because it’s just a single slate of candidates,” Ms Crick said. “But we have to conduct the election regardless of whether there is an opposing slate, even a single candidate.”

Borough resident Victor Krochta was the sole opposition candidate, who said he decided to run for the borough’s top political post because he was dissatisfied with the way current leaders were conducting business. Mr Krochta, who waged a low-key campaign with a few lawn signs and two mailings, was successful in mobilizing 120 borough supporters.

But Ms Crick, who likewise mounted a very modest campaign consisting of a couple of mailings, prevailed with 142 votes cast in her favor. She has served the borough for more than a quarter century, logging 16 years as the district’s top elected official.

Ms Crick said that voters who spoke to her on the days before the election maintained that she was doing a good job, and deserved to be returned to the position which comes with a $2,800 annual stipend.

“Most of the people I spoke to were very positive,” she said. “I guess they couldn’t understand where he [Mr Krochta] was coming from.”

In a pair of mailings, the challenger voiced his concerns that money being budgeted and taxed for certain line items was not being spent. He called for officials to expand the level of information listed on the agendas of borough burgess meetings so taxpayers would know what officials would be discussing or voting on during any particular meeting.

Last week, Mr Krochta also stated that if elected he wouldn’t accept the warden’s $2,800 stipend, instead allocating it to Newtown Hook & Ladder, the first responder fire company serving the borough.

While not addressing Mr Krochta’s offer to donate the warden stipend to the Hook & Ladder directly, Ms Crick did mention that the borough burgesses allocate as much as they can afford to every line item requiring funding. In terms of fire protection, she said that Hook & Ladder responds to fire calls throughout the community, and that the borough government can’t be expected to provide significantly increased allocations to the organization.

“They do take good care of us,” Ms Crick said of the Hook & Ladder volunteers, “and they do a wonderful job.”

Ms Crick responded to criticism about spending activities by committing to exhaust whatever budget funds were allocated, particularly to sidewalk improvements.

“We have to wait until the weather permits, but we’re going to begin necessary sidewalk repairs and spend that money by the end of the [fiscal] year,” she said Wednesday. The end of the borough’s fiscal year falls on June 30, 2005.

Ms Crick lavished praise on the board of burgesses, particularly burgess Joseph Maher III who oversees sidewalk issues.

“People don’t realize how much money we save thanks to the volunteer efforts of all of our elected officials,” she said. “Even those who get [a stipend] put in lots of extra time they don’t get any compensation for.”

She said when new sidewalks were installed on Glover Avenue, Mr Maher spent an inordinate amount of time supervising the work, which was time a contractor or project manager would have been paid.

“The spirit of volunteerism among our officials saves our borough taxpayers a lot of money,” Ms Crick said.

Following the election, Mr Krochta expressed thanks to his supporters and said he remained committed to staying involved in borough matters.

“I would like to thank all of the voters who came out to vote in the borough election,” he said in a prepared statement. “I believe it was a good turnout and shows that residents are interested and have a desire for increased awareness of borough plans and expenditures.”

Mr Krochta said one of his major disappointments was not being able to affect a greater financial contribution for the fire department and related emergency services.

Ms Crick remained upbeat about her victory and the future of the borough.

“The borough is a place for the heart,” she said. “I appreciate all the kind words of support I’ve received during the election and during the year. All these people made my day, and I will continue to do my best every day to help make the borough an even better place.”

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