From The Township Council
To the People of the Township of Teaneck
In presenting for your consideration the accompanying report, rendered to us by Township Manager Paul A. Volcker, we urge that you give it careful study, since the changes and improvements in municipal conditions which it sets forth are the direct result of your own wise decision to adopt the provisions of the Municipal Manager Act of the State of New Jersey, as registered by your votes at the referendum election on September 16, 1930.
In studying and analyzing the facts and figures set forth in the report, you will discover that the aims and purposes of your Council since they took office on November 11, 1930, can be summarized as follows:
1. To reduce the cost of government to the minimum consistent with the governmental service that your interests require and that you have a right to demand.
2. To improve governmental service to you wherever this could be accomplished without undue increase in your tax burdens.
3. To safeguard the financial credit of the Township of Teaneck by refunding for payment in future years--and in part by new population that will come here in future years--as much of the obligations maturing in the last three years as could not be paid out of current collections of taxes and assessments.
4. In general, to make the burden of taxes during a period of extreme business depression as light as it could be made without letting the Township of Teaneck deteriorate as to its physical condition, or letting it default in payments due to its bondholders or its employees.
5. To keep constantly in mind the future needs of this rapidly growing community, and plan constructively for its further improvement as soon as financial conditions are such as to make this possible.
In their efforts to accomplish these purposes, your Council have had the constant and efficient cooperation of your Township Manager, for whose integrity and high ability they have acquired the highest esteem; also the cooperation of a large number of citizens who have given freely of their time and efforts, without compensation, by serving on a number of advisory boards that have been helpful to the Council in solving many municipal problems.
In your study of that section of the report relating to the Township's finances you will discover that the gross debt, less cash in hand on the dates named, has been reduced by $1,542,024.80--from $5,912,296.78 on January 1st, 1931, to $4,370,271.98 on January 1, 1934; the net debt in the same period has been reduced by $985,338.07--from $1,692,1,06.22 to $706,758.15; and the percentage of net debt has been reduced by 5.99--from 9.06 to 3.07; while the per capita debt, which in 1928, based on an estimated population of 13,000, was $526 had fallen at the end of 1933 to $239, based on an estimated population of 19,000--a reduction of $287 per capita.
You will note also that by retiring $436,000 of bonds in advance of their maturity, a net saving to the Township has been effected amounting to $40.000.
Despite these favorable developments, you are still faced with a serious and difficult financial crisis in 1934. Due to the unequal distribution of maturities devised when the bonds were issued, in the years prior to 1931, a total of $1,595,000 in improvement bonds was issued to mature in 1934, and of this total the sum of $1,242,000 remains to be paid in 1934 or refunded for future payment. What measures shall be taken to finance such an amount as cannot be paid out of current collections is yet to be determined, and cannot properly be decided until it is known what enabling legislation shall be enacted by the present State Legislature. In any event, the conditions are such as to make it of the utmost importance that all Teaneck property owners pay as promptly as possible not only this year's taxes. but also any taxes and assessments now in arrears.
Improvement bonds can be paid finally only out of assessment installments paid by property owners to the collector. To save as many home owners as possible from loss of their homes through tax title sales, it has been the policy of the Council, through the years of financial distress since 1930, not to include in tax title sales any property on which taxes were paid up, even through assessments were in arrears.
In recognition of the leniency of this policy, and in cooperation with the municipality in this year of financial crisis, there is now the strongest moral obligation upon all property owners who can do so, to pay up all assessment arrearages before the bonds maturing in 1934 fall due. Up to date, means have been found to avoid default in any township obligation and the Township's credit remains unimpaired. On the other hand, should the Township now be forced to default in payment of its bonds, it would take many years for it to recover a credit standing that would enable it to issue bonds at any lower rate of interest than the maximum allowed by law, if at all.
Your attention is also invited to the figures in the report showing cost of operating various departments of the government over a period of years. By tracing the comparisons you will note that the departments in which there have been increases are those in which there has been definite improvement in governmental services, such as the fire and police departments, health service and parks and playgrounds, besides the necessary heavy increase in costs for poor relief due to the depression; while the costs have been greatly reduced, and at the same time efficiency increased in the repairing, cleaning and lighting of streets, in the maintenance of sewers and storm water drains and the operation of disposal plants, pumping stations and dumps.
In other sections of the report you will note that the Council have definitely in mind plans for the further improvement of the Township of Teaneck in the future. It was with this in view that the Council availed itself of the provisions of the New Jersey Municipal Planning Act and created the Township of Teaneck Planning Board, a body serving without pay, but which employed the services of a well known city planning expert and necessary clerical help. The Planning Board has proposed, and the Council has approved, various projects for the further beautification and improvement of the Township of Teaneck, and for the assurance of a system of parks and playgrounds requisite to the future health and well being of the community. How soon these projects can be started or put fully in effect must depend upon the progress made in relieving the Township of its present financial difficulties. Meantime, measures have been taken to assure that, pending that time, nothing shall be done that will stand in the way of the ultimate realization of those plans.
While some of our acts in office have been subjected to criticism by the few, we have had gratifying assurance of a general public approval of the sincerity of our purpose to serve "the greatest good of the greatest number, and of the soundness of our policies. Having that assurance, and despite many obstacles, all of the Council have found deep satisfaction in giving their best efforts for the last three years to administering the affairs of the Township as fairly and judiciously as it was in their power to do, and in keeping with the spirit and purposes of the Municipal Manager Act.
KARL D. VAN WAGNER, Mayor
LOUIS G. MORTEN, Councilman
SAMUEL S. PAQUIN, Councilman
MILTON G. VOTEE, Councilman
March 20th, 1934.
To the Township Council, Teaneck, N. J.
I take pleasure in handing you herewith a report covering the municipal activities of the Township of Teaneck.
To a great extent the matters covered in this report have been brought to your and the citizens' attention at various times by reports at Council meetings, by special written reports and by the comments supplementing each preliminary budget. The present report is intended to give a comprehensive picture of Teaneck's problems in proper perspective.
The accomplishments should not be considered as the result of individual effort. The department heads, whether appointed by me or not, have given me full cooperation. To them I express my appreciation. As the Council, you have cooperated with me in the spirit of the Municipal Manager Act, and I also extend appreciation and thanks to you.
The report in general is divided into two sections-one dealing with finances, and the other dealing with the administrative problem. I particularly invite your attention to the financial part. Teaneck's difficulties have by no means been all overcome, but I do feel that the Township will come through successfully. The fundamental problem is that of delinquent taxes. Given a solution of this, all the other attendant problems will dissolve.
PAUL A. VOLCKER,