Questions will keep voters busy

Charter study panel, benefits for first-aiders, open space tax on ballot

BY JOYCE BLAY Staff Writer

Staff Writer

JACKSON — Voters will have a full agenda of issues to consider when they enter the voting booth on Nov. 2. Residents will cast their ballot for a member of the Township Committee and answer a series of public questions.

Two candidates are running for one three-year term on the Township Committee. Democrat Joseph Grisanti, a two-term incumbent, is seeking a third term. Republican Mark Seda, who has never held elected office, is seeking to oust Grisanti. The governing body presently has a 4-1 Democratic majority.

Grisanti is a former FBI agent who operates a law practice in Jackson. He is separated and has two sons.

Seda owns a heating and air conditioning company. He is divorced and has one daughter.

Both candidates have campaigned on the issue of Jackson Commons, a 2.9-million-square-foot retail development proposed by Mitch Leigh. It is on Cedar Swamp Road and East Commodore and West Commodore boulevards.

Grisanti supports the development in order to bring in more commercial ratables. He said Jackson Commons would reduce future school tax increases and increase the number of commercial enterprises that service the area.

Seda has opposed Jackson Commons on the grounds that the project would negatively impact residents’ quality of life.

Grisanti supports reduced residential development and a continued effort to maintain the municipal tax rate, which the Democratic majority had reduced for several years.

Seda has challenged the Township Committee’s discontinuation of its annual public budget workshops, which he claims have created an atmosphere of secrecy in place of open government.

Grisanti said the municipal budget is still available at the library and is on-line.

Seda has also called for less municipal bonding.

Grisanti said that with the exception of the committee’s open space land acquisitions which have been supplemented by state grants, the committed has not issued a significan amount of bonds.

The ballot questions are the following:

• Residents will be asked if they would like to double the existing local open space preservation tax from 1.5 cents to 3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The question is nonbinding. The owner of a home assessed at $200,000 presently pays $30 into that fund each year. If the Township Committee raised the tax to 3 cents, that same homeowner would pay $60 a year into the open space fund.

• Another ballot question will ask residents if they want to approve the formation of a charter study commission which would study Jackson’s form of government and could recommend a change in the township’s form of government.

Residents will be asked to vote for five people to serve on that commission and if the formation of the commission is approved, the top five vote-getters will serve on the panel.

The candidates for the charter study commission are Township Committeeman Michael Kafton; Timothy Dolan; Leslie Savage, a member of the environmental group SPARE; Robert LaPlante; John Artale, a member of the Jackson Township Municipal Utilities Authority Board of Commissioners; Board of Education member Daniel Gross; Environmental Commission Chairman Richard Borys; Board of Education Vice President Marty Spielman; Gilbert Guttentag; Sal Duscio; and Thomas Matusz, a member of the Planning Board.

• Yet another ballot question will ask voters to establish a Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) for volunteers on the town’s first aid squad. Volunteers would qualify for an annual amount of $1,150 by meeting certain criteria relating to their service on the first aid squad. The payment is deferred compensation. The total cost to taxpayers for the program would come to about $45,000 per year, according to township officials.