“In 2019, New Jersey led the country with the highest property taxes. We cannot be competitive, attract investment, provide affordable housing, upgrade our infrastructure or improve public education while subsidizing inefficiency at every level of government. I ran for office to be bold and push the envelope and if re-elected, I will continue to do that.” - Sheena
Under Sheena’s leadership, the tax increase to homeowners since 2015 has remained below 2% despite non-discretionary costs, such as pension and healthcare, far exceeding 5% increases. She has been instrumental in cutting costs, building efficiencies, identifying shared services, and generating new revenue that does not rely on raising property taxes. Such cost control, however, was not at the expense of addressing long-delayed, critical capital projects including water infrastructure; recreational facilities such as the tennis courts, Skate House and Baird Community Center; renovations to Police Headquarters; and new public safety radios on a statewide network.
Most notably, Sheena championed the sale of Village Hall, saving taxpayers more than $8M in renovations for municipal office space for 25 employees. This public/private partnership will deliver a multi-million-dollar, historic renovation featuring a premiere destination restaurant and beer garden in the heart of the downtown.
Moving forward, Sheena will work to:
- Cap annual increases of discretionary operating expenses at no more than 2%.
- Aggressively pursue new commercial ratables from economic development, shifting the burden of taxes from homeowners to vibrant business corridors.
- Initiate a five-year, tax abatement available to all homeowners to encourage improvements to their property without the subsequent tax impact.
- Complete the punch-list of deferred capital projects and ensure sufficient budget reserves for future governing bodies to maintain village assets and cease the destructive political habit of “kicking the can down the road”.
- Sustain congressional lobbying efforts to advance the Gateway Tunnel Project, the nation’s largest infrastructure investment with a direct impact to all South Orange residents.
- Continue statewide advocacy efforts to 1) stop unfunded mandates that burden municipalities 2) cap non-merit based automatic salary increases to 2% 3) fight for our fair share of state aid as determined by the school funding reform act to support our school district and 4) pursue and secure grant funding.
- Engage Seton Hall University’s new administration in urging the institution to increase their financial contribution to the town.