In their 3rd Congressional District GOP primary scrap, Jack Kelly this week pounced on Chris Myers’s claim to having cut wasteful spending and reduced the number of employees in Medford Township.
Seizing on Medford Mayor Myers’s recently released campaign mailer, Kelly, an Ocean County freeholder, said, "the truth is that from 2001-2007 Medford Township budgets show a 45% increase in appropriations – up from $14.6 million to $21.2 million."
Kelly concluded that Myers "is somebody who plays fast and loose with the truth."
The Myers campaign defended the mailer, calling Kelly’s accusation that Myers didn’t cut wasteful spending unfounded.
"Under his leadership, Medford Township privatized the processing of leaves and brush (laying off a few DPW employees) and due to that saves approximately $380,000 per year for the next three years, according to the terms of the contract," said Myers spokesman Chris Russell. "That's over $1.1 million in ‘wasteful spending’ that was cut. Furthermore, the collection of leaves was privatized at a savings of $50,000 per year for three years. That's another $150,000 in ‘wasteful spending’ cut."
Frank Luna, a spokesman for the Kelly campaign, called Russell’s details bogus semantics.
"The fact is the township budget has gone up," said Luna. "What’s ‘cutting wasteful spending’ when you can’t stabilize the budget?"
Russell said every municipality struggles with unfunded mandates, and "as Trenton is dumping on them, Chris has found ways to save taxpayer dollars."
Luna said property taxes in Ocean County are the sixth lowest in the state.
The Kelly spokesman also amplified his candidate’s other claim that Myers stretched the truth by saying he reduced the workforce in Medford. From 2001-2007 Medford Township staff grew 15%, from 112 employees to 129 employees, Kelly said.
"The numbers we have are from the budget itself," said Luna.
Russell fought back with a statement, in which he revealed that Medford, pop. 23,399, actually has more employees than Kelly thought.
"According to official Medford Township Payroll Logs, Medford Township had 159 employees (full and part time) in 2001,when ChrisMyers took office. In 2007, they had 151 employees.
"In 2008, that number will likely drop again to roughly 147 employees," Russell added. "Keep in my mind, people come on and off payroll throughout the year…so the numbers above may shift by 1 or 2 from month to month in any given year, but it doesn't change the fact that our mailer is 100% accurate and our claim that Chris Myers ‘reduced the number of municipal employees’ is undeniably true."