Chester Primary: Take Five with Jim Robshaw
Get to know your candidates for Borough Council with a fast five questions from Jim Robshaw.
Primary elections are coming on Tuesday, June 5 and we here at Mendham-Chester Patch want you to be prepared for them. So we take five with each candidate and let them answer in their own words. Canidates were told if they did not feel a question applied to them, or if they were uncomfortable answering then they should be left blank.
Name: Jim Robshaw
How long have you been on the Chester Borough Council?
Other boards/committees in Chester Borough?
Prior to joining the council, I sat on the Water and Sewer Committee for twoyears. I joined mainly because I had no idea how I could have gotten quarterly sewer bill of that amount. Mayor Verbaro was quick enough to ask if I would sit on the committee.
How long have you lived in Chester Borough?
1. If elected (re-elected), what is the first issue currently facing Chester Borough that you would like to take action on?
We are actively on a path to bond our debt. I will continue to support bonding as I have done so in the past (three years or so ago, Valle Schloesser and I were the only two to vote yes for bonding). Bonding of the debt will ensure that not only current generations of Chester Borough residents, but also families that follow will share in the resources made available to them and also share some of the cost.
In addition to the financials and maintaining minimal debt, I have started working with the recreation commission to build a handball wall for multi-sport use. I think having that type of recreation equipment will expand the network of great resources available in the Borough today.
In this years budget, we have put additional money away for road improvements throughout the borough. There are many roads (according to our engineer and the Mayor and Council) that are in disrepair and need some re-surfacing. We just completed Oakdale and Hillside (I will tell you that I voted NO for that). I voted No not because I didn’t think it was important, but because I don’t think we adequately planned for those large expenditures. We have remediated some of that in this years budget, but it is a very important aspect of the towns finances and we will continue to fund it – or at least I will continue to try and support it. Although I am just one vote.
2. How do you plan to keep the municipal budget under the 2% cap while keeping the health and safety of the community in tact?
This is a very interesting question and one that quite frankly is hard to answer specifically. The reason is that there are many expenditures that occur inside the cap 2% and also expenditures that occur outside the 2% cap. But specifically within the 2% cap I think we have a good budget in the borough. My guidance this year to the other council members (I was co-chair of the finance committee) was to look at whether we wanted to add or remove services and whether we wanted to add or remove staff. In reality those are the big items that would impact our budget. Currently there are still contracts that need to be satisfied and that puts a bit of constraint on our budget every year. Additionally, as requests come in for Fire Trucks, Ambulances and Police Cars, we have to ensure that we have put away appropriate money to satisfy those requests at time.
3. What shared services, if any, can Chester Borough send out or receive in the coming years?
We are always looking for ways to share services between our surrounding towns. We will continue to investigate what makes sense for the borough – again based on our decision to add or remove services. We currently do quite a bit of shared services and we will continue to investigate opportunities in the future where it makes sense. The Police (Contracting for Services with the Township) is still on-going although we do have a plan to get us in a place where we can make a good decision. We are always looking for ways to improve our services and hopefully do them at a lower cost. As contracts come due, people retire or vehicles have to be replaced, those are good triggers to look at surrounding towns or outsource some services altogether. There is always room for improvement and when the opportunities present themselves, we’ll do our best to ensure we are in a good position to act on them.
4. What items do you see the borough needing to add to their "to do" list?
The borough is in a pretty good spot right now. We did most of our heavy lifting over the last few years or so. I think the next few years is about managing to a very strict budget and seeing ourselves through the issue of contracting police services. In addition to that, I think we need some additional services for our teens. We have done some extensive repairs and maintenance for the baseball fields and concession stand in recent years. I would like to offer other athletic services to the children of chester borough.
We need to focus on roads within the borough – many of them are in pretty bad shape. Additionally, we will continue to look at the services we offer and figure out if it makes sense to in-source them with borough employees or out-source them with contracted services.
5. What is your favorite part about the community of Chester?
Our community is very unique and extremely vibrant. I love the downtown area and the fact that my kids can walk downtown to shop, get an ice cream cone and/or go to the movies. That is very unique! I grew up in a similar type of town, maybe that is what drew me to Chester Borough. The schools are a tremendous attraction to the area as well. To be honest, that was in our original assessment of areas to look at before making our decision to target a town. Overall, I have been here 12 years and I look to be here for at least another 12.