1/8/1991 - by Alice Gallagher
For the first time in nearly a decade, a Republican was sworn in last night to serve on the Township Council. William Cook benefited from an anti-incumbent, anti-Democratic and anti-tax revolt that swept the polls in November. The Democrats have had held a majority on the governing body since 1971 and a Republican had not been elected since 1981.
Cook and Democrat Diane Pincus were sworn in for three-year terms at the annual reorganization meeting. After being sworn in, Pincus said she was reminded of how a a young girl she had held the Bible for her father, the late Jack Pincus, a mayor in the 1970's.
"I hope someday my daughter will be as proud of me as I was of my dad," Pincus said, referring to her young daughter Juliann. Cook promised to "avoid petty partisan politics" and work with the council to confront the economic uncertainties of the coming year. In making his state-of-the-township address before a crowd of nearly 200, Mayor Paul Matacera acknowledged the power of the taxpayer rebellion.
"One of our nation's most popular lawmakers, Senator Bill Bradley came within an inch of losing his Senate seat, because he refused to talk about the issue people cared about -- taxes." Matacera said. "I don't plan to make that mistake tonight.'"
The mayor announced that the township would take steps in 1991 to help reduce the municipal tax burden. Officials had announced in December that a $1.63 million payment from Fashion Plaza Mall to cover back taxes Could reduce municipal tax rate by 13.5 cents -- if the entire amount was applied.
One of the ways the township will attempt to cut costs will through reduced employee salaries. Matacera said salaries of all township employees receiving more than $40,000 will be frozen in 1991 at 1990 levels. Those with salaries between $25,000 and $40,000 will recieve a 3 percent raise and those geting under $25,000, a 5 percent raise.
The township has 13 employees who are paid more than $40,000 -- the highest being the Township Engineer Art Vitale, at $62,208 and Township Business Administrator Paul Keller, at $70,000. Matacera noted that the 1980's were a decade of growth, and then 1990's "would e a decade of management of that growth."
Between 1981 and 1990, the township's population grew by nearly 37 percent, rising to 30,391 residents. Meanwhile the amount of ratables nearly quadrupled -- from $364.6 million to $1.2 billion -- and the taxes paid by the average homeowner increased from $1,072 to $1,895 according to township records.
"I am confident that by going on a spending diet...we will be able to maintain the high quality of local government services that our people have come to expect and enjoy," Matacera said. Councilman Joseph Fritsche was selected as the council president, and the council held a moment of silence for the late Councilman Frank G. Paul, who died Oct. 31 from cancer. Paul's term expired on Dec. 31.