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Committeeman Ponisi Is Optimistic about Holmdel's Fiscal Health

He joined the governing body just two months ago at a time of fiscal crisis to help fill a vacant chair. Now he is optimistic about the township's course, and will seek a one-year term.

When Joseph Ponisi accepted an invitation to apply for an opening on the five-member Township Committee to fill a vacancy two months ago, he was stepping up to stand with a governing body grappling with a crushing fiscal crisis. The budget gap was estimated at the time to be as large as $2.5 million, public land might have to be sold, taxes were going to go up -- and taxpayers were outraged.

Since then, a contract buyer has stepped forward to develop the 475-acre Lucent property, the newly hired Township Administrator Andy Katz has identified a plan to increase revenues that has significantly reduced the budget gap, and several private citizens have stepped forward to offer their expertise on the financial advisory committee, swim center and other boards.

"In working with Andy Katz and the talented staff, in just two short months we have turned the operations of the township around and have balanced out our operations," said Ponisi on Tuesday. He said the public will learn more details at Thursday's Township Committee meeting at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

Ponisi, whose career is focused on analyzing the fiscal health of municipalities, was a volunteer on the citizens fiscal advisory committee, and a frequent observer at Town Hall meetings before he was appointed to the dais by the Republican Committee in order to fill Republican Serena DiMaso's term after she left for the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

He says he will run in November to run for the governing body because he believes his expertise in municipal government finance has been helpful to Holmdel.

Ponisi will run against Democrat Mark Levinson for DiMaso's one-year unexpired term. Levinson, in his career with homebuilding and land development, has honed skills in cost analysis, project management, and negotiation. He was appointed to the Zoning Board in February by the mayor to fill Joyce Ploussas' unexpired term as an Alternate.

His Republican Party running mate, Tom Critelli, has a background in real estate. Critelli will be running for a three year term against Democrat Larry Luttrell, an attorney. The term is available because the governing body's only Democrat, Larry Fink, is not seeking another term after a 12-year run.

Ponisi describes himself as a fiscal conservative who sees value in cultivating a "business friendly" atmosphere in Holmdel as the development unfolds at the Alcatel-Lucent site. He is also optimistic that he has made a connection in town that will result in the sale of one of the township's available liquor licenses.

"As a fiscal conservative, I will do everything in my power to contain the increases in property taxes and will continue to look at alternate solutions to increasing our revenue base and reducing our expenditures," he said.

"We also need to strike a fiscally balanced approach to preserve our existing open space, while developing opportunities for active recreation throughout town," he said.

Nick J. April 05, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Joe, it certainly appears that you and the TC have accomplished quite a lot in the past two months. Keep up the good work and I like the fiscally conservative point of view. Certainly your background has played a key role in helping turn things around for the Township.
Tony Orsini April 05, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Another rabbit out of the hat? And of course it's Joe, whose running for re-election. Same guy who was adamant about selling open space. Once again: "found." Now Plum Lane lots can be taken off the market, correct (I can't HEAR you)? Correct? Unless this is some sort of a Ponsi, er, I mean Ponisi scheme. The Mayor said he "listened to the people" when Cross Farm would no longer be sold. Apparently he did not listen to anyone of the 50+ signatures on the petitions NOT to sell Plum Lane open space. Running a town takes more than being a bond expert: it takes making the right decisions. I'll put Levinson & Luttrell's against ANYONE currently sitting. Next we'll talk about Mr. Critelli's plans for build out on Cross Farm: at least the plans he has championed in the past (which I am sure have changed).
Nick J. April 20, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Tony, I guess it pains you and your candidates that this administration has Holmdel headed in the right direction. As Lucent begins to be redeveloped, I'm glad we have a diverse group of people on the TC who know how to negotiate for the best of Holmdel. As for the candidates, Ponisi with his municipal government financial expertise and Critelli with his real estate and construction background are perfect together. I for one am glad they are running and they have my full support.
Tony Orsini April 20, 2012 at 07:39 PM
What pains me is the prospects of an ALL Republican TC without Larry Fink marching us to fiscal oblivion. They seem unwilling or unable to work the budget without selling open space. Lucent is far from a done deal and any substantial fiscal effect will not kick in in 2013 and perhaps not for many years. The fact that Plum Lane is still on the market is indicative that our fiscal woes will remain in 2013 as others have pointed out, and the Mayor mentioned he would be willing to sell Bayonet Farm property if need be, so I guess that means Cross Farm is not safe either and we will be revisiting this issue. The commitment you will get from Mr. Levinson and Mr. Luttrell is that they will NOT allow open space to be sold. There are many more "rocks" to be be overturned instead of making the easy bad choice.

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