Meet this year’s candidates for the Mt. Laurel Township Council Election — Week 3

This year Mt. Laurel has three open seats for Mt. Laruel Township Council.

Every week, The Sun will ask candidates in the Nov. 8 election for council seats to respond to questions pertinent to local issues. This week’s questions:

1.) What are your feelings regarding recent municipal budgets, expenditures and municipal property tax rates in Mt. Laurel?

2.) How would you rate the municipality’s ability to communicate with residents and respond to their needs? What would you continue or change?

Republicans Linda Bobo, Irwin Edelson and Kurt Folcher

1.) What are your feelings regarding recent municipal budgets, expenditures and municipal property tax rates in Mt. Laurel?

While many surrounding municipalities are raising taxes, we worked hard to balance the budget with a zero percent increase this year. Every resident will pay the same amount they did in the municipal portion of their property taxes with a lot more to show for it. Families and seniors make tough decisions every day to get by on a limited budget, and we still have more work to do to make Mount Laurel a more affordable place to live. Our team first commitment is to ensure government lives by the same financial rules as the families, seniors and small businesses that call Mount Laurel home.

We have a track record of finding innovative ways to provide high-quality services and upgrades to public safety while lowering the price tag for taxpayers. Through shared services with our schools, neighboring towns and the county as well as grants, we have been able to invest more in our first responders, parks, roads and infrastructure without asking local taxpayers for another dime this year.

We’ve built our careers in the private sector, managing businesses and finances. That real world experience will be invaluable to help us to continue our long-range plan to improve our community while forcing government to live within its means.

Our prescription for providing tax relief while improving our quality of life is simple:

• Create partnerships with other government entities through shared services and grant opportunities to expand services and programs while saving taxpayers money.

• Conduct yearly internal audits and department level budget analysis to identify ways to more affordably and efficiently serve our residents.

• Allow local volunteers and residents to shape our long-term priorities, like road and infrastructure improvements, public safety upgrades and investments in recreation programs and facilities and help plan our finances responsibly for the future.

• Continue to attract new businesses and support pro-business policies that allow our businesses to expand to provide new revenue to off-set residential property taxes.

• Create private-public partnerships with businesses, first-responders and Rowan College to expand and create new programs, services and events for residents of all ages to enjoy at no cost to taxpayers.

2.) How would you rate the municipality’s ability to communicate with residents and respond to their needs? What would you continue or change?

In the age of smart phones and social media, we have worked hard to modernize and expand opportunities for residents to communicate with government at the push of a button. Our website is being constantly updated to be a portal for residents to access local government 24 hours a day.

Residents and businesses can pay their taxes online and download virtually everything they need, including forms for property tax rebates, animal licenses and housing resources. They can also see how their money is being spent and learn about action taken at council and committee meetings to stay informed.

In addition, we have created an online one-stop shop for everything a small business owner would need to open or expand their business in Mount Laurel, helping to streamline and simplify the approval process for local entrepreneurs.

We also launched the SeeClickFix application that allows residents to report concerns or issues and receive real-time updates as our local government works to fix their problem.

With ever-evolving social media applications and new tools that allow more interaction between government and the people it serves, we need to stay vigilant to expand convenient ways to encourage dialogue and provide updates to Mount Laurel. We will continue to expand Mount Laurel’s social media footprint, improve our website and invest in new technologies that make it easier for residents to provide their feedback and stay informed.

Democrat Kareem Pritchett Sr.

Council candidate Kareem Pritchett, Sr. did not submit answers to this week’s questions by deadline.