If you have a website for your small business or organization, you probably feel pretty much in control of it. You can see it; you can interact with it and it even has your photo on it! But do you really control it? Let’s review the areas where control can be (and is regularly) lost:
Domain name/domain registration
If your name is John Smith and your website is johnsmith.com you probably feel pretty secure but as small business owners we often delegate tasks to support staff or outsourced help and if one of them registered the domain on your behalf and didn’t use your name – then technically you’re not in control. There have been many cases of domains being held ransom by 3rd parties who haven’t been connected to the website for years.
Also, remember that domains are only ever rented - never purchased outright. The day you stop paying the domain registration fee (or worse, you forget to pay) your domain is back on the block and up for grabs from whoever wants to get it.
Access to content management system (CMS)
Can you make changes, edits and additions freely (whenever you want) to your website? If not (or if it’s really complicated to make changes) then you’re not really in control of your site. And even if you do have access do you know whether you have FULL admin access? Without full admin rights you’re likely restricted to what you can add or change.
Web designers sometimes do this for a very good reason – they don’t want people messing up their hard work, but you may not have the same web designer forever and then it can become a real headache to get back control.
Ownership of content
It’s your website with your name all over it – surely you own all the content? Not necessarily.
When you contract with certain website providers, they take full control of your content of your website and wrap it up with proprietary software that means you can’t take it somewhere else. Many of them even copyright your material as theirs – meaning that you might not even own the material that you supplied to build the website! This includes words/text and pictures/videos – whatever is on your website.
The conditions that morph into gut-wrenching money problems and create further operational breakdowns are weak or insufficient systems for:
When public companies face challenges, they dedicate millions to consultants and taskforces, quickly addressing problems and getting back on track. When small businesses need help, there are few process improvement experts that have the skills to assist the business in addressing these foundational needs.
There are plenty of marketing resources, CPAs, HR experts, coaches and consultants for specific problems that need fixing in a closely managed business. However, few experts have the reputation and perspective, plus enough skills and experience to fix the whole operation.
Every business has problems, but many can be addressed before they disrupt the organization. Typically, privately held companies operate in a reactive environment dealing with problems as they occur. Many times, they address the same problems over and over because we don’t make policies to eliminate them. The daily rapid-fire succession of in-coming demands, many requiring snap judgements and unsettling after-thoughts, redundantly soak-up much more time than necessary.
Are your competitors, both locally and around the country, holding their own? If they are, your business certainly can do at least as well as these others are doing. And, likely could do much better if all your internal process were operating at peak potential. Making your business more proactive takes a different approach than addressing chronic troubles when they happen. If you’re tired of not operating under control, do what every franchise in America is required to do, create a robust Operations Manual. This labor and frustration saving tool requires a template, plus time, perspective and guidance.
Don’t be like so many business leaders that keep their entire operations in their heads, start creating a more robust platform right away. Optimizing systems, operating under control, having a sustainable flow of interested prospects and recurring customers, plus a workforce that is invested in the future, is what provides a business owner with more creative time, options and opportunities.
Operational sustainability requires detailed procedures and employee buy-in. Operating under control means being a better leader by communicating your objectives, reinforcing them every single day and posting metrics for all to see.
At the start, you’ll still experience tactical problems that require an immediate solution. Handle them like you always have except, once fixed add the matter to a snags list alongside the solution and store the solution under the proper heading in your new operations manual.
Operational processes include business development, operational efficiency, culture shift, and a progressive leadership function. Take the time to evaluate each platform, enlist the key players on your team and meet regularly on the most pressing topics. If it’s finding more customers, do a competitor evaluation then challenge your people on ways to improve your offering.
Look at the culture in your company. Do you regularly evaluate your employees with reviews and ideas for improvement? Does your staff really understand the goals you have for the company, how growth will take place, and what each employee’s role is in getting to your objectives? Look at absenteeism and turnover to determine why you might be losing your better players.
Find ways to optimize your operations. This includes better internal communications and interdepartmental relations. If you make stuff, find ways to do it faster, better or less expensively. If you provide services, update your protocols and customer interface to assure a satisfactory experience by all customers, every time.
Finally, examine your role. Are you a facilitator or tyrant? You may be the business expert in one or more areas of the company, but your first responsibility is to be an effective leader. Communicating goals, mentoring the team and creating a platform for operational efficiency are your core responsibilities.
Do you know a company with an afterhours sports team? On the field everyone wants to win, right? Well, a good coach can bring winning inspiration to make that winning perspective happen every day. Now, consider how you can imbed that winning spirit at 9AM every day instead of afterhours at your company.
While it doesn’t happen overnight, becoming a better leader will begin to get everyone to fully embrace your business objectives and understand their individual role in contributing to the overall goals of the organization. Being led is what employees want, they want purpose and need to experience winning. When they feel the connection, they will stretch their abilities and do more to contribute.
The foundation of it all is a proactive operating platform. You won’t have to mitigate recurring problems since the granular details in your operations manual will reflect every detail in every process. Every business can do better, most can do 20% better next year with the right direction and training.
Consider the fact that implementing change in a functioning company usually requires skills that do not reside within that organization.
Stop for a moment and think, how big would your business be, if you were still doing work with all the people you already did business with over the past five years. There is certainly a joy at the time of a new sale, but once it becomes a project it can quickly become an up-and-down roller coaster. New clients have their brains flood with dopamine during sale. But what moved from the sales process to actual project work this euphoria can quickly change to anxiety. This can even lead to the dreaded buyer’s remorse.
Do you have a system in place to deal with buyer’s remorse, or better yet prevent it all together? Salespeople build a wonderful relationship with the new client but then they hand this person off, frequently to a junior Account Manager. The salesperson disappears to hunt again, and your new client is becoming panicked after the deal is done.
Did you know that 32% of new bank customers leave in less than 12 months with 20% of them having not done a single transaction? Think of all the work that went into acquiring that client, but they’re gone during the first year. Other shocking statistics or 46% of people never go to new restaurant a second time, and 21% of customers break a cell phone contract within the first hundred days.
On average, varying based on your industry, 20% to 70% of new customers will stop doing business with you within the first six months. And yet most companies don’t track this at all. Everyone knows the cost of losing a customer includes a loss of future spend and loss of referral business. But, did you know that a customer that still working with you after six months will typically stay with your company five years.
So now you know the problem, what do you do about it? If you ask your head of marketing or sales, they can walk you logically through every step of their sales funnel. This includes everything from identification of a problem, identify needs, creating urgency, scoping the project and ultimately closing the deal. Most sales funnels have anywhere from 3 to 8 steps to move someone through. At every stage there are measures and identified corrective actions.
Why wouldn’t you also have a funnel to track client retention. Studies say a small 5% increase in customer retention yields more than 25% in profit. The reason for this is new sales have a very high cost of acquisition while existing sales have a lower sales cost and a greater profitability.
You as an organization need to look at what tools you can use to enhance new client retention.
Face-to-face in-person visits after sale or by far the most beneficial. But what do most people do is send email. Have you ever heard any new client say they wish they had more email!
Things to consider in your client retention first would be good old fashion snail mail people just don’t get the same volume of postal mail that they once did. A personalized follow-up letter targeted to the individual can be the key to success.
A second element to consider are phone conversations. It may be called a smart phone, but people seem focused on the “smart” part and forget about the “phone”. People don’t seem to know how to dial numbers on it anymore. If you simply call the client and talk to them just to see how they’re doing your retention increases dramatically.
A third and growing element is video interaction. Clients often indicated this is their preferred method because they feel the personal touch of seeing you on screen but don’t have to directly increase to the you and they can do it at their preferred schedule.
An effective combination of
If you say this does not apply in my business; think about how many of your customers used to work with someone else before they became your client. What you are doing to make sure you are not that someone else? Create a simple reoccurring plan for customer retention and watch your profits soar.
Without a premarital agreement, your business could be at stake in a divorce. Here's how to minimize that risk.
According to research published in the New York Times, the U.S. divorce rate peaked at about 40 percent in the 1970s and early 1980s but has since steadily declined. While it's difficult to calculate an exact overall divorce rate due to contributing factors including age at marriage, race, socioeconomic level and religion, it's nice to know that if current trends continue, roughly 66 percent of couples will never have to endure the anguish of divorce. But that leaves 34 percent who will. Divorce isn't something we anticipate when we fall in love, get engaged and marry. As entrepreneurs, however, it is something for which we should plan. Though it's not always obvious, your assets, income and business interests are at risk during a divorce. Protecting these assets is an important step in the divorce process. If mistakes are made, it could result in serious financial and personal consequences.
If you own a business, protect your interest from the outset with a premarital agreement. Spell out your pre-existing business assets and have your spouse waive any claim in the future, regardless of the business's appreciation in value. If you are already in the process of divorce and did not execute a premarital agreement, or if you started your business during the marriage, then the business may be in play. An experienced family law advisor can develop strategies to minimize your exposure.
Start by assessing the level of your spouse's involvement in your business. A spouse who lacks involvement has a reduced claim to the business value. It is best if your spouse is not an employee, does not contribute to the business's management, and does not provide ideas or business innovation advice. If you are still in the pre-divorce stage, start to document your spouse's lack of involvement in your business.
Review your options for establishing a buy-sell agreement, corporation, LLC, or a living trust to restrict ownership and ownership transfer. If you have business partners, revise your partnership agreement to require that the other partners have the option to buy out the interests of the divorcing partner and his or her spouse. You may still have to compensate your spouse for his or her share of your business's value, but this way you can prevent your spouse from becoming part owner. Yes, that can happen.
Even if you haven't established any legal protection to secure your business interests, it helps if you have carefully established, funded, and managed your business with separate assets. Avoid co-mingling business assets with personal assets and business accounts with personal accounts. Pay yourself a market-rate salary. When you reinvest all or most of the business revenue back into the business, your spouse may claim he or she deserves the benefit of the appreciation in value.
If a business is at issue in the divorce, then a value must be placed on the business. The simplest and cheapest way to establish business value would be to agree on a number you both can live with. If you cannot agree on an arbitrary value, the next best cost-effective method is to ask the company accountant to determine the "book value" of the business.
Book value is the accounting value of the business, which usually does not reflect the true market value. The difference between market value and book value can depend on factors such as the specific industry, the nature of a company's assets and liabilities, and the company's specific attributes. If you want to assess the business's market value, you have to hire a forensic accountant. Choose an expert who can minimize the value of the business while conducting an evaluation based on standard guidelines.
Once value is agreed upon, consider how to distribute it to your spouse―by cash payment, by an offset against other assets you will waive, or with installment payments.
Now let's look at the flipside. What if your spouse owns a business and you believe you should receive a share of that business's value?The advice is the same, but in reverse. Carefully document all the work, ideas and resources you contributed to the business. You may have done work for the business without drawing a paycheck, or engaged in social activities to woo clients, worked the register, created marketing materials, managed social media accounts, performed bookkeeping and recordkeeping, or made other contributions. Document everything you have done to help the business.
If you're an entrepreneur who's considering--or in the midst of--a divorce, your business can generate complicated legal issues. Choose a family law specialist with a background in business transactions to assure that your business is properly evaluated and distributed.
Right after college I had a wonderful opportunity to work as a staff member at the Cape Eleuthera Island School in Eleuthera, Bahamas. Part of my responsibility was to serve as a faculty advisor to high school sophomores and juniors during their study abroad experience. Faculty worked alongside students in the classroom, but also during research, chores and mealtime. It was a close, tight-knit community.
One evening, as my team of students and faculty was finishing up cleaning the school kitchen after dinner, I volunteered to empty the mop bucket. I had to carry one of those familiar yellow, wheeled buckets that we all saw at school. I carried it down six cement stairs (with the mop press scraping my leg) and wheeled it along the gravel walkway to dump the dirty, gray water in the bushes. Flipflops are not recommended footwear for such a task, as I found out, tripped, nearly fell, smashed my knee on the mop press, and dumped disgusting gray water all over my legs and feet. There was only one inch of water and sand left in the bottom of the bucket by the time I made it to the bushes to dump it out.
I stood on the gravel walkway and started crying. I was a world away from home, I missed my friends and family, I was living in a house with no air conditioning and every time it rained, geckos would crawl under my kitchen door… I was feeling sorry for myself. But I pulled myself together, found my missing wet, slippery, flipflop, dumped the water and walked back into the kitchen with a tear-stained face to help my team finish up our chores and start study hall.
Later that evening, the head of school sent me a very simple email. It said, “Even when you think no one is watching, someone is always watching. You’re doing great.” Little did I know that while I was having a small breakdown over spilled mop water, the head of school was watching me out his office window.
That very simple sentence has stuck with me through my professional career. It serves as a reminder that whether we realize it or not, our bosses, co-workers and staff members are seeing the way we handle our successes and failures. It is a reminder to always bring my best when I walk in the doors to my office: my mindset, attitude and work ethic are contagious and it’s up to me whether I put out a positive or negative vibe. Remember: when you think no one is watching, someone is watching. This adage continues to serve as a reminder to always try to lead by example. It’s ok to be disappointed or frustrated, but a good leader will remember that colleagues, children, and friends are watching. Use that frustration or disappointment (and always a success!) as an opportunity to implement good problem-solving skills or turn it into a learning experience for all to share.
Small businesses face a host of challenges. Only a small percentage reach their fifth anniversary. Most people start out with a dream, roll the dice, and jump in feet first. You can reduce risk and increase your chances of success by taking the steps outlined below.
Plan to Succeed. A well thought out Business Plan can mitigate seven of the top ten reasons businesses fail. It allows you to organize, prioritize and shape your thoughts. It is a roadmap to the future. A Business Plan is a living document which changes periodically. When you write your thoughts down, it is easier to see the holes and to fill them before implementing. A Business Plan also allows you to share your thoughts with your advisors and employees so that everyone is on the same page.
Establish Goals. Goals help you measure success. Goals should be reasonable and a stretch to achieve. If they are too easy, the results are meaningless. Unachievable goals are counterproductive. Failure to meet them demoralizes the staff and may cause them to question the competence of the company’s leadership.
Monitor Cash Flow. Cash flow is the life-blood of business. As a business owner, you sign the checks and use the company credit card. You commit the company to spend money. When planning to spend consider Need vs. Want and Invest vs. Spend. Ask yourself, “Do I need it or do I want it?” If you want a $50,000 car when a $30,000 model will suffice, stop and think. Ask, “What’s the return on my investment?” The answer will help you make the right decision. If you need to buy raw materials that you will turn into a profitable deliverable that a customer has ordered, then do so. The question you need to answer is, “Where will I get the best return in terms of new business for the money I am investing?”
Track Your Progress. How do you know who’s winning if you don’t keep score? Determine what metrics drive your business and monitor them on a regular basis. It involves more than looking at your checkbook balance each day or running an income statement each month. You need to break down your sales process. It may include:
Our experience in developing and implementing business development plans increases your odds of success, contact us for a complementary consultation. Learn more
Fact or Fiction? In order to achieve a high reward on your money, you have to accept high levels of risk.
FICTION. The truth is, achieving a high overall reward on your money is possible while taking minimal risks. For years, common investing wisdom has promoted the idea that high risks lead to high returns, but in reality, many people experienced low rewards for taking high risk. It is often assumed that high risk investments will automatically generate high returns, leading you to believe that you will have much more money in your future as a result. When you plan on having a large return you might end up actually saving a much lower percentage of your income than you should be.
High risk doesn’t always equal high reward
It is common to hear a misconception that traditional financial planning offers; in order to achieve a specific financial goal, high risk products are the way to go. Many people build their financial futures based upon the hope that they’ll be in the right place at the right time with their retirement nest egg. There are many factors that affect your future such as rising taxes, life events and stock market fluctuations. All of these things cannot be monetized or computed with a mathematical equation to get an exact number as to how much you should have in retirement. Financial planning need and goal calculations suggest you don’t have to save as much, as long as you’re investing your money. But it’s not just about taking the high risk with your money, it’s also how much that risk is actually costing you. For example, there are factors such as taxes, fees, debt and lifestyle expenses that all have to be considered when determining your actual return. Decisions with your money need to be much more certain in nature and the only thing you can control is how much you save.
So what can you do to get ahead and stay ahead?
Focus more on your rate of savings than on your rate of return. The better you are at putting money away, the less dependent you may be on needing high returns and taking on high levels of risk. If you feel like you are fighting an uphill battle as you build your net worth, and you feel like you aren’t making any progress, ask yourself these questions…How much money did I save/invest last year as a percentage of my income? What is the right amount of money to save? If you find yourself saving a lower percentage of your income, there may be a temptation to turn to higher risk investments to help close the gap as you plan for retirement. By setting a goal to save more, you can be in more control over your financial future. Since rates of return are so unpredictable, saving the right amount each year may actually allow you to lower the amount of risk you take. You work hard for your money and it shouldn’t all be put at risk in hopes of a high payout.
Become a saver before becoming an investor.
Today, it is all too common for people to invest in market based investments before using guaranteed assets. This approach may not only encourage high levels of risk and volatility, but might also leave you without enough accessible money to respond to changing life events. There is no way to predict what may happen tomorrow and you could suddenly be faced with events such as an unexpected job loss, a medical emergency, or an opportunity to start a business. Before taking high risks with your hard earned money, or setting aside funds in illiquid accounts, focus on the following:
• Become a world class saver by setting aside 15-20% of your gross income.
• Accumulate one year of household income in accounts you can easily access.
• Protect your balance sheet and cash flows against life events that could wipe out your ability to save and wipe out the money you’ve already saved.
• Become more efficient by lowering taxes and other expenses that can erode savings and investment returns.
Rather than hoping for an attractive high rate of return on your money, and accepting the high risks that come with it, focus on these steps to lead you toward a more positive road to building wealth. Always remember, your rate of savings is more important than your rate of return.
Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents, and employees do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult your tax, legal, or accounting professional regarding your individual situation. The Living Balance Sheet® and The Living Balance Sheet® Logo are registered service marks of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. © Copyright 2005-2018 Guardian
There’s a new ofﬁceholder of the 11th Congressional District and she made her Morris County Chamber of Commerce debut this spring at the chamber’s annual Washington Update Breakfast. Mikie Sherrill was elected to ﬁll the seat vacated by Rodney Frelinghuysen, who represented the district for 24 years, and shared her thoughts on infrastructure, taxes, business development, health care and other issues with more than 100 attendees at the breakfast held at the Wyndham Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center in Florham Park.
Sherrill, a Democrat, is a former Navy helicopter pilot and assistant U.S. Attorney. She is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, the London School of Economics and Political Science and Georgetown University Law Center. As pointed out by chamber president Meghan Hunscher, Sherrill was named the most important new woman in Congress by Politico and placed #19 on its Power List.
Sherrill said she is pursuing a policy of consensus as a new member of the House of Representatives. She is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, who identify themselves as ﬁscally-responsible, centrist Democrats, and the New Democrats Coalition, centrist Democrats who support a moderate and pro-growth agenda and support a balanced budget.
Yet within that policy of consensus remains a focus on the interests of Morris County, she added.
With a $53 billion economy that is the state’s most economically diverse, Morris County plays an essential role in the state economy, according to Hunscher. The county also can serve as a model for the nation, Sherrill added. “Over the last 100 days I have put this district ﬁrst and fought for its interests in Congress,” Sherrill said, citing infrastructure, taxes and health care among those interests.
Sherrill said the Gateway Project under the Hudson River can be a symbol of the beneﬁts of investment in infrastructure for the entire nation. More generally, she said the county’s and state’s failing bridges and roads hurts recruitment of new talent by businesses and there also is an exodus of young people from the state – she noted 85 percent of people leaving New Jersey are between ages 18 and 25 – which impedes business development. “Infrastructure is, without a doubt, an area (on which) Democrats and Republicans can come together on behalf of the American people,” she said.
The Congresswoman told the audience the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is hurting New Jersey residents, particularly the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions that is leading many state residents to pay more taxes than in past years. She noted 60 percent of the responding members of the New Jersey Association of Certiﬁed Public Accountants are advising their clients to leave the state. Sherrill said she is proposing raising the SALT cap and eliminating the SALT marriage penalty. “We must make all possible inroads on SALT and I can assure you we are working on a ﬁx,” she said. Sherrill noted the importance of Picatinny Arsenal economically, contributing $13 billion the New Jersey’s economy. “I will continue to advocate for the continued success of Picatinny Arsenal, even though I am a Navy girl,” she said to laughter.
Sherrill said all Americans having access to affordable health care is critical and said she is working to cut the costs of prescription drugs. She also said laws need to change to adapt to an evolving society and allow health care coverage to follow workers from one job to another. In response to the opioid epidemic, Sherrill co-sponsored the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act to get more federal funding to the states to ﬁght the spread of opioid addiction.
During the question and answer period, Sherrill said New Jersey’s Congressional delegation – all but one are Democrats – is working well together for the state’s interest. ”We’re all aligned in what we need to do,” she said. “I think the 11th District can and should lead the way for the rest of the country,” she added. In responding to a question on border security, Sherrill said she felt the more pressing issue is stopping the ﬂ ow of people and illegal goods through legal ports of entry, of which New Jersey has many, and that more money needs to be spent on improving technology at these points.
Questioned about additional federal funding for the Morris County Economic Development Corp. and local economic development in general, Sherrill said her ofﬁce is working on tracking all federal money coming into New Jersey through programs and grants in an effort to help New Jersey businesses apply for that funding. Finally, when asked about assistance for lower-income and ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families, Sherrill said she believed the nation needs to adopt regional minimum wages to assist these families while also protecting small businesses.
When I meet with members about how the chamber can help grow their business, the topics of talent and human resources are at the top of the list. Accordingly, I am proud to announce we kicked off our new Human Resource and Talent Committee this spring, led by co-chairs Christy Harper, president of Launchpad Talent Group, and Michael A. Shadiack, Esq. of Connell Foley LLP. Christy has extensive background in talent recruitment, on-boarding and retention and brings many years of experience helping businesses succeed through the identiﬁcation of top talent and effective programs to develop employees. Michael is a partner in and serves as chair of the employment law practice group at Connell Foley. He has extensive experience providing employment law compliance counseling to businesses of all sizes, conducts practical training programs and drafts employee handbooks, all with a perspective gained from defending businesses in litigation during the last two decades.
The committee is collaboration between the chamber and the Morris County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC), a division of the chamber. The mission of the committee is to provide members with the opportunity to discuss timely topics related to talent. It also provides the opportunity to plan and present at forums and seminars that provide valuable information to members and the business community about best practices in human resources, up-to-date information regarding laws and regulations, and strategies for attracting, on-boarding and retaining talent.
While the committee will comprise primarily individuals who have primary responsibility for hiring, ﬁring, providing day-to-day direction to employees and are responsible to address any employee conﬂict or inquiries by government agencies, any chamber member that is interested in human resources as it applies to their business is welcome to attend.
It is clear that that Morris County will only remain a “top 10” county and continue to grow if we can successfully attract, retain and develop talent. We encourage all members who are involved with hiring decisions or interested in learning more about how labor regulations affect their business to attend the committee, which meets on the second Tuesday of every month from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at the chamber ofﬁces. If you are interested in learning more or being a presenter, please e-mail Michael Shadiack at MShadiack@connellfoley.com
I am excited to announce that the MCEDC also is investing in a new database, Hometown Opportunities, to provide improved connectivity between employers and prospective employees that will be developed this year. Employers will be able to list local job opportunities and residents, students and volunteers will be able to ﬁnd opportunities in their hometown or within Morris County. You will realize the beneﬁt of this resource by having a tool to attract talent in a competitive labor market through your business proﬁle.
In the antithesis of today’s hyper-partisan political acrimony of Washington, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) sat down together for an amicable discussion of the issues at the 2019 Legislative Luncheon hosted by the Morris County Chamber of Commerce at the Park Savoy in Florham Park. Sweeney and Kean clearly like each other and agreed as often as not during the hour-long discussion moderated by Alan Zakin of Alan Zakin Associates and chairman of the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee. Both agreed New Jersey is in fiscal trouble and cited various solutions. “We need to rescue the state from (its) financial crisis,” Sweeney said, citing unsustainable public pension and health care obligations and over-taxation of businesses. “The state has problems and if we don’t solve them quickly we’ll lose our edge…To achieve anything important, we have to work together.” Kean agreed. “People are risking a lot to stay in New Jersey,” he said. “People are working a lot of hours, sometimes working two jobs…Families are being torn apart because kids can’t afford to stay in New Jersey.” The question-and-answer format allowed members of the audience to delve into areas of concern to them. Sweeney and Kean were asked how to ease property taxes in New Jersey and about shared services. Both agreed the 2 percent cap was a good start and had achieved real progress.
Kean called for a restructuring of the school funding formula to create tax stability but stopped short of embracing shared services as a solution, noting regional education does not always work because people want more say in their kids’ education. Sweeney disagreed. “I think county government plays a key role in facilitating shared services,” he said, noting that small school districts pay 17 percent more for education than larger districts. The problem, he added, is resistance. “You don’t want a shared police department. You don’t want a regional school district…It’s called home rule and people like it.” However, by fixing the state’s pension plan, New Jersey could save $3 billion per year, $2 billion at the local level, and all those savings could go toward property tax relief, Sweeney added. Sweeney and Kean were asked about increased funding for New Jersey Transit and both agreed it was necessary. “We need to make it possible for people to get to work,” Kean said. Sweeney called for improved communication to commuters and better contingency plans to help them modify their plans. When asked about legalized marijuana and the impact on employers, neither senator seemed enthused with the plan even though it would bring additional revenues. Kean claimed other states with legalized marijuana showed increased cost demands on the health care and education systems and no drop in black market sales and said reducing the cost of government was better than raising revenue this way. Sweeney said employers’ rights, for example on testing, would always prevail, although legalized medical marijuana adds other issues. He also pointed to a 29 percent drop in opioid use in Colorado as a favorable outcome of legalized marijuana.
He predicted it would eventually take place in New Jersey and wanted it done statutorily to maintain control over the process. The senators parted ways on the issue of the state’s minimum wage increase and its impact on businesses. “We had some concerns and we’re going to watch it to make sure we don’t lose too many jobs,” Sweeney said, citing exemptions, a circuit breaker in the case of a recession and a rolled out approach. Kean countered the exemptions were simply delayed and that the Murphy administration had failed to consider the impact of the increase on the cost of operating state government. When asked about rising health care costs for employers, Kean said no issue had generated more calls to his office than this one and called for tort reform and continued coverage for pre-existing conditions. Sweeney lamented the approach of President Trump and the Republicans in Washington of simply attacking the Affordable Care Act rather than looking for solutions. “Rather than trying to fix what was wrong, they tried to destroy it,” he said. “And they made things worse.”
Morris County Chamber of Commerce
325 Columbia Turnpike - Suite 101
Florham Park, NJ 07932 (MAP)
Our Mission: The Morris County Chamber of Commerce collaboratively advances the interests of its members to champion a thriving business and community environment.
Our Vision: Creating member experiences that foster exceptional business success and quality of life.