West Deptford Resident and County Freeholder Robert Damminger Helps Preserve West Deptford’s Largest Farm
106 acres of West Deptford farmland will be forever preserved thanks to West Deptford resident and Gloucester County Freeholder Robert Damminger. Working in conjunction with the County Freeholder Board and the State Agriculture Development Committee, Freeholder Damminger will be able to secure about $600,000 of the $1,010,800 purchase price through New Jersey’s Farmland Preservation Program, a long standing program that has received bipartisan support over its many years of existence. The acquisition of the Urban Family’s farm in West Deptford comes on the heels of a state milestone, the preservation of 200,000 acres of NJ Farmland!
The George H. Urban farm has been owned by the Urban family since 1938 and is 106 contiguous acres of viable and active farming. It’s adjacent to an additional 42 acres of existing open space that was previously preserved. The farm has produced specialty crops like watermelon, tomatoes and asparagus over the last seventy five years and is one of the last remnants of the vast agricultural landscape that used to cover West Deptford and South Jersey. Preserving the Urban Farm preserves not only a piece of history, but a key part of the New Jersey economy.
Preserving land and viable agricultural farming operations is vital both to West Deptford and New Jersey’s future. West Deptford’s key location alongside major highways and ports makes agriculture and agricultural processing facilities a great economic development opportunity for West Deptford and provides for a strong mix of active farming operations and open lands, attractive industrial sites and facilities and easy access to ports and highways for warehousing, logistics and transportation companies. All these economic activities combined can provide a great tax base for West Deptford, jobs for our residents and a diverse landscape that preserves some of the scenic vistas that South Jersey and the Delaware Riverside are known for. Freeholder Damminger’s efforts will help West Deptford continue to be one of the top South Jersey towns to live in.
This is what good government looks like. Concerted, bipartisan, collaborative efforts that reward hard workers and good stewards like the Urban family and that build on our town’s past to create new economic opportunities for the future.
Standing up against the back room dealing and the continued politicization of township government continues to be a hallmark of Denice DiCarlo’s tenure on the West Deptford Township Committee. Last Friday the Republican Majority on West Deptford’s Township Committee found themselves defending yet another violation of the Open Public Meetings Act in court.
During the court hearing West Deptford Township Solicitor Anthony Ogozalek admitted that the secret meetings to select township officials were held in order to ensure that only township professionals who supported conservative ideals would hired (http://westdeptford.patch.com/articles/no-decision-yet-in-sunshine-law-suit-against-republicans)
“They were going to appoint people they trusted…who were going to support them in their conservative ideals,” Ogozalek said.”
“It was a caucus of people of the same party, discussing who they could trust and who would support their political ideals.”
Mayor Chintall and Committeeman Cianfarni ‘s secret meetings to hire new township professionals focused on ideological purity and allegiance to the Republican Party, not expertise, not experience, not professional qualifications and certainly not finding the people or companies best suited to meet West Deptford’s needs.
After Friday’s court hearing DiCarlo issued the following public statement,
“I attended the hearing before Judge McCaffrey and was very disappointed to hear Mr. Ogazalek, the township solicitor, admit that important government decisions affecting West Deptford were made at a secret meeting 30 miles away in Burlington County, with their campaign manager in the room, outside the established legal process for awarding professional service contracts. There is a right way to do this, and it is in town hall in West Deptford in full view of our residents and taxpayers.”
“This is wrong. This isn’t open and transparent government. I want the record to be clear: Mr. Ogazalek may be defending the township, but he doesn’t speak for me. I totally disagree with the “politics as usual” legal defense he used to justify patronage.”
At last Thursday’s Township Committee meeting , DiCarlo introduced a municipal open government ordinance that mirrors open government legislation currently before the New Jersey State Legislature . DiCarlo’s ordinance would ensure that West Deptford is both in compliance with the State Open Public Meetings Act, which the West Deptford Republican Majority has already violated twice this year, and focused on transparency.
Without DiCarlo on West Deptford’s Township Committee, the current Republican Majority would be enabled to run roughshod over New Jersey’s sunshine laws and to continue their backroom dealings. If you believe that government should be open and transparent and that township professionals should be selected on merit rather than allegiance to “conservative ideals” or to the local Republican Party, then Denice DiCarlo should be your choice come November 6th.
DiCarlo Plans on Building West Deptford’s Future on its Past
Increasing and improving West Deptford’s industrial ratables is critical to ensuring the future of West Deptford. Since the closing of the Huntsman facility in 1999, West Deptford has faced the same challenges as the rest of New Jersey and the United States, a loss of good paying jobs to other countries and regions. Since the 1950s West Deptford’s industrial ratables covered 50% of the cost to run West Deptford’s town services and schools, but this advantage has eroded over the last decade. Denice DiCarlo knows that just cutting the budget isn’t the way to a better economic future for West Deptford families.
Committeewoman DiCarlo has a plan to help jump start West Deptford’s local economy and restore ratables through the establishment of a Federal Trade Zone at the old Huntsman facility.
A Federal Trade Zone would generate not only ratables for the town, but high paying jobs for our residents and new customers for our local businesses. A Federal Trade Zone takes advantage of opportunities that will flow from the Port of Paulsboro, our location across from the Port of Philadelphia, our easy access to the Philadelphia airport and can serve as an anchor for new businesses looking to relocate and rehab West Deptford’s industrial and commercial corridors. Federal trade zones already exist in many locations throughout New Jersey and have proven to be a valuable economic development tool .
An opportunity to create new import and export businesses and a role in anchoring New Jersey’s clean energy industry awaits West Deptford if we’re willing to embrace the opportunity. In a Federal Trade Zone, some custom duties and federal excise taxes on imports are deferred, while foreign and domestic exported goods are often exempt from certain state taxes. Companies located within a FTZ benefit from streamlined custom procedures, lowering their logistical costs. Federal Trade Zones provide powerful competitive advantages that are attractive to companies with international customers and suppliers.
Reducing expenses in West Deptford has never been an easy task. But Township Committeewoman Denice Dicarlo is taking on the responsibility of saving West Deptford taxpayers money by streamlining management and labor practices.
Early in her tenure as a Township Committeewomen, Denice DiCarlo led a review of the Township’s Public Works manpower needs. While the number of Public Works employees in 2012 were essentially the same as the number of Public Works employees in 2004 (28 employees in 2012 vs. 27 in 2004), the department had become dependent on seasonal labor to make up employment shortfalls from past budget cuts.
By hiring the same seasonal workers over and over again and keeping them on for extended periods of time, the township was really pushing up against the boundaries of federal labor laws and needed to revise its policy. DiCarlo crafted a solution using a flexible workforce approach which reduced the number of seasonal employees to zero in 2012, down from seasonal employment that ranged from five to fifteen workers during 2011.
By using flex labor, West Deptford’s Public Works Department can now add workers on a daily basis based on our seasonal needs or to replace full-time employees who are sick. Flex laborers get a Six am call if there is a need for additional workers on any given day. All the flex workers used are trained on trash collection procedures and equipment operation which allows the town to free-up more experienced full-time West Deptford workers for other maintenance and public works tasks.
In an effort to continually reduce expenses in West Deptford, Denice DiCarlo plans on incorporating flex labor for any department or project that could benefit taxpayers financially with it’s benefits.
Restoring our dreams through collaboration and hard work
West Deptford’s Field of Dreams shines brightBy leading a collaborative effort between the town, volunteers and local businesses, Denice DiCarlo pushed through a restoration of the Field of Dreams site in less than a month.
The West Deptford Field of Dreams was neglected for years after being built as a community project sixteen years ago , DiCarlo made revitalization of the park a significant priority of her first term in office and was able to accomplish that goal in less than six months by bringing people together.
Working together across party lines with Deputy Mayor Sean Kilpatrick, DiCarlo built a committee in her first months in office that included elected officials, local business leaders and West Deptford employees and local volunteers.
DiCarlo was able to raise $60,000 in donations and keep costs to under $52,000 which provided an additional $8,000 for use at other parks in West Deptford after the work at West Deptford Field of Dreams was completed.
In a very short time span, from early January 2012 to May 2012, not only was West Deptford Field of Dreams completely refurbished at minimal cost to the town, but additional funds were made available for deferred maintenance work at other town parks.
Collaboration, hard work, a strong commitment to improving our town, and wisely managing our town’s resources is what distinguishes Denice DiCarlo from other leaders.
Making Sure West Deptford’s Seniors Needs are MetAs a member of the West Deptford Township Committee Denice DiCarlo helped ensure that West Deptford Seniors have a permanent bus dedicated to their needs.
After being without their own dedicated bus for almost a year…
DiCarlo and the township committee approved the purchase of a new West Deptford seniors bus in May to replace the previous bus, which had been destroyed in an electrical fire last year. The previous township committee had arranged for a loaner bus from Gloucester County which worked well as an interim solution, but lacked the comfort and dependability of a permanently dedicated West Deptford seniors bus.
Many West Deptford seniors depend on the bus for transportation to the supermarket, to the mall and sometimes even to Cowtown. A permanent and dedicated West Deptford Seniors bus is an important part of our community. It helps make it easier for West Deptford’s seniors to manage their daily lives and to socialize with their friends and neighbors.
Providing services to West Deptford’s senior citizens is a point of pride for our West Deptford community. Whether it’s senior citizens club meetings at Riverwinds, hosting the senior citizens nutrition center for Gloucester County at the Thorofare Fire Hall, or providing transportation around town, ensuring that West Deptford’s seniors are mobile and living life fully is something our town takes pride in. The new West Deptford senior bus will help seniors of our community get around easier and safer so that they too can enjoy our community.
DiCarlo leads West Deptford Township Committee to a combined $24,500 savings in annual salary costs for the Committee and Mayor’s salaries.Early in her tenure as a Township Committeeman, Denice DiCarlo proposed reducing the Mayor and Committee people’s salaries as a show of good faith as West Deptford wrestles with ongoing budget challenges. Armed with a proposal to cut Township Committee salaries that the Mayor and Republican Committee majority refused to put on the agenda, DiCarlo proposed an amendment from the floor to reduce salaries from $11,500 to $6,000 for the Mayor and from $9,500 from to $5,500 for Township Committee members.
Not willing to be shown up, Republican Committeeman Sam Cianfarini tried to one-up Committeewoman DiCarlo by offering a token reduction of an additional $500 per Committeeperson and $1,000 for the Mayor to create a flat $5,000 salary for all committee members including the mayor. In an act of partisan pique the Republican Committee majority then moved the second reading of the amendment to the next meeting and onto Committeeman Cianfarini’s agenda, after Committeewoman DiCarlo immediately agreed to Cianfarini’s changes to her proposal and took action to move the proposals forward.
Keeping the best interests of West Deptford residents at heart, DiCarlo used her knowledge of Roberts Rules of Orders to quickly sign onto and move forward Cianfarini’s amendment to reduce salaries an additional $500 – $1,000 per year from her original proposal to slash the Mayor’s salary by over $6,500 dollars per year, and to slash Committee members salaries by over 4,000 per year for an annual savings of $22,500 per year.
Knowledge, expertise and a willingness to fight for the best interests of West Deptford’s residents despite the roadblocks thrown up by the Republican majority on the Township Committee and Sam Cianfarini’s grandstanding is what makes Denice DiCarlo a strong watchdog and effective leader.
Keeping our kids safe by enforcing stricter background checks in West Deptford.Ensuring that our kids remain safe especially in light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State is a significant concern for all of us. Committeewomen Denice DiCarlo, a mother herself, worked closely with West Deptford’s youth organizations to bring in the “Check Em’ Out” program from the Megan Nicole Kanka Foundation so background checks could be completed on all youth organization volunteers. The new background checks for West Deptford organization volunteers are described as an enhanced security measure that will take a preemptive approach to protecting our kids.
Working with the Recreation Advisory Committee to ensure that input was gathered from all West Deptford youth organizations, Committeewoman Denice DiCarlo proposed that all youth organizations verify that every volunteer is certified before the organizations receive their yearly financial allotment from the town.
Youth organizations across the country have been implementing background checks for all volunteers who come in contact with youth since the Sandusky scandal came to light last year.
West Deptford’s new background checks will require fingerprinting of all volunteers from West Deptford youth sports organizations. Volunteer’s fingerprints will be run through both the State Police and FBI databases.
After the Recreation Advisory Committee unanimously adopted the proposal in June, Committeewomen DiCarlo brought the proposed policy to the full Township Committee. The Republican Majority on the Township Committee have yet to schedule the proposed policy for a vote.
West Deptford Sunoco Negotiations: Denice DiCarlo Saves Taxpayers $1 Million.Moving West Deptford forward requires competent business leaders like Denice DiCarlo who have strong financial and negotiation skills and who can act as a watchdog to make sure the Township Committee’s Republican majority doesn’t put their own short term political gain ahead of the long-term interests of West Deptford.
West Deptford’s financial problems can’t be solved through backroom meetings and rushed negotiations by a small clique of local elected officials. The West Deptford Sunoco negotiations were complex negotiations with a giant oil company that regularly moves pieces around on a global chessboard. Dealing with these types of companies requires leaders that understand both complex negotiations and corporate finance. In West Deptford, leaders who can negotiate complex business transactions and who understand how corporate finance works are a necessity, not a luxury. As the Vice-President of Finance and Controller of PBS Kids Sprout Network, DiCarlo’s high-level business experience is exactly what West Deptford needs.
Denice DiCarlo brings to the table the sophisticated skills that are needed to help transition global petrochemical companies properties in West Deptford into new businesses and industries.
During the West Deptford Sunoco settlement Committeewomen Denice DiCarlo and Donna Szymborski consistently demanded more information on the terms of the settlement and also pushed back hard against Sunoco in a last ditch effort to get a fair settlement. DiCarlo voted no on the first settlement championed by the Republican majority because the Texas/El Paso portion of the settlement contained only a scant four pages of information. DiCarlo was not willing to vote for a settlement with Texas/El Paso when only four pages of information on the terms of the deal were publicly available, and for a deal in which the Republican majority was consistently pushing for approving both a settlement and a bond issue based on verbal assurances of good faith rather than the written, vetted terms of a deal.
Even though she was frozen out of the West Deptford Sunoco negotiations, Denice DiCarlo fought on and found a way to save tax dollars. DiCarlo openly challenged the unfair settlement, made a solid case for a better deal, then negotiated directly with Sunoco executives, and got a deal that saved $1 million dollars.
Complex negotiations require timely and accurate information and detailed term sheets, all of which were sorely lacking during the Sunoco and Texas/El Paso negotiations led by the West Deptford Township Committee’s Republican majority this past spring. It often seemed as if Mayor Chintall and the Republican majority were simply trying to rush a deal through so they could claim that they actually accomplished something, instead of looking out for the long-term interests of West Deptford. Sam Cianfarini’s analysis pointing to a potential $90 million dollar payout to Sunoco was completely misguided from day one. Anything can happen in a courtroom and most companies seek a settlement outside of court in order to minimize their risk. If Sunoco was guaranteed a $90 million settlement on $1.5 million dollars in legal fees they surely would have pushed hard for their day in court. Instead they chose to settle.
Using her business experience, negotiating chops and financial skills enabled Denice DiCarlo to force a settlement with Sunoco that saved $1 million dollars for West Deptford taxpayers.
Had the Republican majority worked with DiCarlo from the beginning, who knows how much more of our tax dollars could have been saved for the West Deptford Sunoco negotiation.
It is time to move West Deptford township forward in a positive direction. We need skilled, experienced watchdogs like Denice DiCarlo on West Deptford’s Township Committee.