Linda Baum - Candidate for Township Committee
Ms. Baum holds a BS in mathematics from St. John’s University with a concentration in computer science and has obtained the designation of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter. She has credit for several actuarial exams and numerous years of actuarial experience in various property-casualty insurance lines. From 2003 to 2010, Ms. Baum administered the New Jersey Workers Compensation Security Fund, which provides a safety net to businesses and injured workers in the event of insurance company bankruptcy. In that role, she was the point of contact for the Fund’s claims handlers, members of the industry and public, receivers, and other guaranty associations. Until mid-2012, she managed the actuarial division of the Compensation Rating & Inspection Bureau in Newark, NJ. Ms. Baum, who is well-versed in on-site solar systems, is currently an independent associate for Viridian Energy, a socially responsible energy company whose mission is sustainability.
Ms. Baum is an outspoken advocate for government transparency and fiscal accountability. “Middletown has lacked financial oversight and long-term planning for many years. These things are critically needed in order to bring property taxes under control,” she said.
Ms. Baum strongly supports the formation of a Finance Committee, which she says is “the right body to fully investigate ideas for cost savings or revenue generation that may help to stabilize or even reduce our property tax burden.”
An 18-year resident and regular attendee at Township meetings, Ms. Baum has worked diligently to be knowledgeable about Township operations and programs, and has spent numerous hours speaking to residents and reviewing Township documents in order to educate herself on these matters. She has observed that there is a limited flow of information to the public and often a failure to timely inform residents about important issues affecting them. “Much greater transparency is needed,” she said.
“Many improvements are needed in Middletown’s governance. If elected, I commit to bringing greater transparency, accountability, and integrity to the Township Committee to ensure that Middletown is the Township of choice for all.”
What Did They Say?A comparison of Linda Baum's and Steve Massell's committee comments.
Click here to view.
Articles from our Candidate
Our Library has been pro-active in providing for the needs of families and individuals experiencing hardship.Read More…
Consolidating sewer services under the Township will save money & provide substantial tax relief for residents.Click here for the FACTS…
The public has a right to hear the candidates discuss their plans to better our Township.Read More…
Property taxes are made up of several pieces – municipal (town), school, and county.Read More…
What do the Finance Committee, Board of Ethics, and Human Rights Commission all have in common? They are all important, and they are disappearing.Read More…
New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA), effective in July 2002, is one of the best tools the public has to obtain information about what government is doing.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1996 and became effective on July 1, 1997.Read More…
My plan to cut costs, improve operations, and provide transparency:
- Dissolve the Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA)
Consolidating TOMSA’s services under the Township would save us $1.1 million per year. Because the Township is largely built out, a separate authority is no longer needed.
- No More Overpriced No-Bid Contracts
Over $1.5 million in contracts has been awarded to friends and contributors.
- No Health Benefits for Part Time Political Appointees
We can’t afford to give Comprehensive Health Benefits to political appointees that work one day a week – or less. Only full-time salaried employees are eligible for these benefits.
- Conduct Town-Wide Operational (Forensic) Audit
It’s time to find out exactly what’s happening with our money. Significant corrective action has been required by the Township as a result of the last three regular audits.
- Pre-approve 5-7 engineering firms to competitively bid on contracts rather than handing all work to a single firm.
This could save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year
- Invest in the technology to do real-time accurate property assessments for the benefit of residents.
Properties should be fairly assessed and municipal government should ensure that they are. Residents should not have to go through a pain-staking legal process to obtain an assessment adjustment.
- Establish volunteer committees to handle work
The Township Committee (a part-time 5-member body) needs to organize its work effort and delegate work to sub-committees as appropriate to increase the efficiency of operations. These committees can work to continuously identify problems and solutions that results in a far more responsive, pro-active government:
- Televise Township Committee meetings on free cable access television
We have the right to see our government at work and to be informed about all aspects of how our Township is run. The greater the transparency, the greater the accountability. Public meetings of Township boards can also be televised. Meeting videos should be available online at the Township’s website and meeting DVDs should be available in our Public Library.
- Provide additional timely documentation online
Additional detailed documentation should be posted online at the Township’s website, where currently only very cursory information is available. Further, meeting materials should be posted further in advance of meetings so that the public has sufficient time for review.
- Increase opportunity for public participation at meetings
Greater opportunity needs to be provided at meetings for public comments and questions. The Township’s current 5-minute rule has the effect of limiting discussion and frustrating the public. The process used at County Freeholder meetings is far more reasonable, whereby successive turns are taken until no member of the public has any further comments. There is no reason we can’t do that in Middletown.
1) A Personnel Committee – There is currently no procedure in place to evaluate staffing needs, review performance, or schedule time.
2) A Finance Committee – This body can provide ongoing in-depth review of Township’s finances to identify ways to reduce costs and generate revenue, and can also cooperate with the Board of Education to save money through shared services.
3) The Middletown Human Rights Commission (MHRC) should be re-formed and allowed to do its job. Its efforts may save the Township hundreds of thousands of dollars in costly lawsuits.
4) A Task Force that includes community health insurance and medical professionals is needed to analyze and make recommendations with respect to Township’s health care costs, which have been growing rapidly in recent years. It is necessary to identify cost drivers, coverage options, and incentives for employees to save money and increase wellness.