Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Freeholder Candidates Talk Taxes, DPW Project

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Freeholder Candidates Talk Taxes, DPW Project

Article excerpt

The candidates for Bergen County freeholder sparred on taxes and the cost of a new public works facility in Paramus on Thursday in their first debate of this year's campaign.

But they found agreement, for the most part, on the need to do more about an epidemic of heroin addiction.

The Republicans and one Libertarian candidate argued that the county needs to do more to cut spending.

GOP candidate Ken Tyburczy contended that more Republicans were needed on the Board of Freeholders to question spending by the Democratic-controlled county administration.

"We do need a check and balance," Tyburczy said. "If there's not a check, how can we possibly control the spending?"

Democratic Freeholder Steve Tanelli noted that in 2014, the Democratic-controlled board passed a budget that had no tax increase.

Tanelli also noted that this year's budget -- which included a 4.3 percent tax increase -- won unanimous, bipartisan approval from the board.

"Everybody worked together on this budget," said Tanelli, who blamed mandated costs, such as health care, for the increase.

Libertarian Peter Rohrman pledged that he would not vote for any tax increase if elected.

Rohrman advocated selling the county-owned Bergen Regional Medical Center -- a position Democratic County Executive James Tedesco opposes -- and using the proceeds to pay down the county's debt.

The candidates also disagreed over whether additional expenses for building the DPW facility are the result of underfunding, poor planning or cost overruns.

"Where was the oversight?" Tyburczy asked.

Tanelli said problems at the site resulted from a lack of management during the prior Republican administration.

"There have been some things that needed to be fixed," Tanelli said. "We need to make sure that building is going to last."

The Democrats and Republicans agreed that the county needs to deal with the recent spike in heroin-related deaths through more treatment. …

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