Holmdel's new business administrator, Andy Katz, is planning to meet with two citizen groups a week over the next two months to meet to raise awareness about Holmdel's situation in 2012.
"My goal is dialogue," said Katz, who began his job at Town Hall on Sept. 30. It's an approach he's used before in other towns. "It's a way of reaching out and getting points of view," he said. Elected officials may also be present.
So far he's sent out letters to 60 Neighborhood Watch groups and attended a Captains Meeting. He said he'll visit the Half Century Club, the various homeowners' associations, even the athletic clubs. "Any reasonably-sized group who has an interest in the community," he said.
Katz said his role is to assist in assessing the community and making professional recommendations to Holmdel's leaders on its different options. Tough decisions must be made in 2012, he said.
At a CILU meeting on Jan. 9, to which he had accepted an invitation months earlier, Katz gave his candid perspective on the "significant financial difficulty" facing Holmdel Township with the continued loss of Lucent ratables on the tax rolls and the decrease in home values, as experienced nationwide.
"In Holmdel it's hit a point where some real significant decisions got to get made," Katz told CILU members. "As we are configured now, we are running $2.5 million short -- until, and unless -- property values come back up. I think it’s liable to be quite some time."
Questions were asked, and discussion flowed, about the township budget, the use of surplus reserves, the size of the police and local government, a comparitive analysis of the municipal tax rate vs. a similar town, and the Alcatel-Lucent Redevelopment Plan.
Katz, and Township Committeeman Eric Hinds who also attended the nearly 2-hour meeting at the Community Center, took their time to explain how things work. The attendees appreciated the thoughtful discussion, several said.
Afterwards, Katz said he thought some common ground was found. "I think there was a pretty good line of understanding of what the [Township] Committee is facing right now," he said.