As Election Day nears, Lacey Patch will be speaking to the two candidates who are vying for the one and only open seat on the township committee.
Lacey Patch has put together a candidate profile so you can get to know the candidates better and what they see as the key issues and challenges facing the township.
- Candidate Name: David E. Most (incumbent)
- Age: 53
- Address: 2196 Lacey Road, Forked River
- Occupation: Lead Instrument Technician, Oyster Creek Generating Station
- Marital Status: Married to Melinda for 29 years, two daughters.
Most first got involved with local government through his involvement in Lacey Township.
As former Lacey Girls Softball Revenue Chair, volunteer to Forked River Fire Co. and Scuba Team, Vice President of Sunrise Beach Club and Revenue Chair for Lacey Township’s 125th Anniversary, he always had an interest in contributing to the town, Most said.
“Helping the community was already an aspiration,” he said.
Six years ago, he was encouraged to campaign by fellow residents. He has since been a member of the committee; a liaison to the Municipal Alliance, Police Department and Recycling of Lacey Township; and a member of the Planning Board and Ocean County Solid Waste Advisory Board.
Some of his major contributions to the township committee include reducing budget expenditures by nearly $200,000 in the last year and his efforts to replace Oyster Creek upon its closure in 2019, he said.
“We’ve worked on the budget and we went in each department,” Most said. “These are probably the toughest economic times we’ve ever seen so our goal is trying to maintain our services and stabilizing our taxes and I think we’ve accomplished that goal.”
The committee reduced operating expenses and the township is “lean and efficient now,” he said.
“As far as moving forward in the future, when you look at the budget, we’ve turned over ever single rock in our departments,” Most said. “Moving forward, the biggest issue now that I see is the $11 million energy tax receipt.”
The energy tax receipt that Lacey receives for hosting Oyster Creek was cut by $1 million in the past few years. The township currently receives over $11 million in energy tax receipts, which makes up 40 percent of the budget’s revenue.
“It’s so important that we staple that project behind the plant because we can’t be complacent to think that Trenton is going to continue that ratable,” Most said. “We’re not going to be taken care of by that bill. That’s not a guarantee.”
If the state continues to struggle economically and Oyster Creek is no longer generating electricity, they may continue to chip away at the tax, he said.
“It would be threatened by the economic times,” Most said. “To depend on that bill is not a good business decision for Lacey Township moving forward.”
Most has been communicating with the Board of Public Utilities and Congressman Jon Runyan to ensure the construction of a new generation facility in Lacey Township, which would create electricity and jobs as well as bolster Lacey and the county, he said.
“A transition plan is paramount and that was a wakeup call for me because I had the foresight of getting it included in the state’s Energy Master Plan,” Most said.
Most is supportive of any type of generation facility from biomass plants, nuclear and gas to wind and solar, he said.
“I’m in support of whatever we can get. All options are on the table,” he said.
Replacing Oyster Creek also needs to be the focus of the Planning Board’s updates in the township Master Plan, Most said.
“We’re pretty much built out right now,” he said. “None of the commercial ratables even come close to Oyster Creek. The eyes should be on the prize and the focus should be on that project. We shouldn’t be passive about it and count on the state. We should ensure our sustainability in Lacey Township.”
Maintaining Services and Taxes
The goal is to maintain high quality services while stabilizing taxes, Most said.
“We’re so lean and efficient right now so how much reduction and savings are you going to come up with, even if you have a pipeline dream plan,” he said.” When you look at 40 percent that can be in jeopardy, that is such a big piece of the pie that we have to focus and concentrate on rather than looking at becoming more efficient because we are there.”
To cut anymore in the budget would be cutting services, which is something Most would only consider if residents were in favor, he said.
“Our administration is set up, our departments are healthy and they’re working and they’re efficient, that talks to the cost of running a town,” he said. “That $11 million [in energy tax receipts] is so much more than any reduction.”
Each department has been restructured and new managers have been hired, which talks to efficiency, Most said. Since 2009 the township went from 131 employees to 105.
Staffing has been reduced in the police department but more officers are on the street, he said. And court hours have been reduced.
The committee has negotiated with unions. Future employees will not be getting some of the benefits that township workers have received in the past, Most said. Current employees have taken a zero percent salary increase this year.
“That takes leadership courage to do that sort of stuff. I’m an average guy and I represent the taxpayers and that’s what I do,” Most said. “Election is a report card. If people know you’re working hard for them, then you get voted in.”
As for taxes, it all depends on the economy, he said. The current budget included $25,926,556.25 in anticipated appropriations and revenue and almost $9 million in the amount to be raised by taxes.
The municipal tax rate increased $0.024. For the average assessed house at $318,000, taxes rose $76.72 for the year and $6.32 per month.
“Eventually we expect the economy to recover and when it does, we’ll take the appropriate action but right now we have to posture ourselves with the economy,” Most said. “We can’t be spending a lot of money because we have to sustain the tax rate and I believe we’ve done a good job doing that.”
Shared services and selling the north docks are areas the committee will continue to look into, Most said. He emphasized that it is a five-person committee and it takes three members for anything to pass.
“It’s a pipedream to think you’re going to come in here and change the whole town. When you cut something out of the budget, it’s going to reach a point that you’re actually going to start reducing services,” Most said. “We’ve done a good job in being able to balance the budget and at the same time provide a high quality of service in town and I’m very proud of that.” To learn more about Most, visit http://laceyrepublicans.com/.
Check Lacey Patch tomorrow for a profile on committee candidate Gary Vaccaro.