My hometown in Edison, New Jersey is officially known as Edison Township and it is located in Middlesex County. According to official maps, the geographical coordinates for Edison are 40°32’18” North and 74°22’43” West and the town has an area of about 30.7 square miles while its total area is composed of about 0.6 square miles of water. Before 1954, Edison was known as Raritan Township, but it was later renamed in Edison in honor of Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. In addition, one major point of interest other than the Menlo Park mall is the Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum, which has Edison memorabilia and the Edison Tower. The Edison tower was built in 1937 to memorialize the time Edison spent working at Menlo Park.
Unlike most towns, Edison has one of the most diverse demographics in the area, with a total population of 97,687. According to the 2000 census, the town is 59.49% White, 6.9% Black, 0.1% Native American, 29.3% Asian, 2.0% from other races, and 2.2 from two or more races. Of the 29.3% who are Asian, 17.3% are Asian Indian, and 6.1% are Chinese, while the other 5.8% consist of Koreans, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese and other Asians. Because of this, Edison is known for having a large Indian population and has a great deal of South Asian shops and restaurants on a street called Oak Tree Road. Out of the 67,649 people who are over 25 years old, 4.4% have less than a 9th grade education, 23.7% have a high school education, and 25.5% have a Bachelor’s degree. The average income for households in Edison is $69,746 according to the 2000 census and the per capita income for the town is $30,148, which means the average townsfolk make about $30,148. Moreover, according to the 2000 census the median resident age is 36.3 years and the median house value is $186,900.
In Edison, total tax rate for 2003 is $3.11 for every $100.00, which was an in-crease from $0.17 from 2002’s tax rate. The average home assessment in 2003 is approximately $170,000, and the average property tax bill is $5,287.20 since $170,000 * 0.0311 is $5,827.20, the average property tax bill. The total tax rate is consists of a county tax ($0.46 per $100), a school tax ($1.89 per $100), a local municipal tax ($0.71 per $100), a county open space tax ($0.04 per $100), and a municipal open space tax ($0.01 per $100), making the total tax rate to be $3.11 for every $100 of assessed value. Therefore, the breakdown of the 2003 local tax rate is that about 60.99% of the tax bill is used for schools, 15.81% of it is used for the county, and 0.32% is used for open space, while 22.87% is used for the township. In addition, the ten largest taxpayers in Edison are Isaac Heller, Center Realty/Fed Storage Warehouse, Shopping Center Associates (Menlo Park), Garden State Buildings/Raritan Plaza, Cooper Associates, The New York Times, Durham Woods, Associates, Ford Motor Company, Keystone NJ Associates, and Blueberry Village/Edison Village.
The town’s sewage is sent through the local sewer system to the Middlesex County Utilities Authority’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, which also serves parts of Union and Somerset County. The sewage is treated through a rigorous process that consists of filtering out solid material, the sterilization of harmful bacteria and final testing in the plant before the treated water is reintroduced for public use. Moreover, the filtered sew-age and solids are further treated with chemical and temperature-based procedures that are approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The cost of for the sewage treatment billed to Edison in the form of quarterly bills, and this bill is paid in turn by the townspeople and local businesses at a rate of $0.00176 per gallon of water used. The appropriations for the 2004 sewer utility budget is around $8,945,520.06 that is composed of $1,413,992.00 in salaries and wages, $7,125,528.06 in other expenses, $100,000.00 in capital improvement, and $306,000.00 in debts.
Middlesex Water Company is main water company that is contracted to give drinking water to Edison Township, who is a wholesale customer. According to town-ship Ordinance No. O.1373-2003, water is delivered to the town at a charge of $21.69 per thousand cubic feet, where one cubic foot is equal to about 7.48 gallons. The water company gets its water from the Delaware and Raritan Canal, which is owned by New Jersey and operated by the New Jersey Water Supply Authority, through its Intake and Pumping Station in New Brunswick and is sent for treatment and distribution at the Carl J. Olsen Water Treatment Plant in Edison. In addition, the main water supply from the Delaware and Raritan Canal is also supplemented by water in the Round Valley and Spruce Run Reservoir System and groundwater sources in the Brunswick Aquifer. How-ever, unlike many towns, Edison has its garbage collected by a mix of private companies and municipal pickup services. The bulk of the township or roughly two-thirds of Edison has their garbage collected by sanitation trucks from the department of public works whereas the northern more affluent parts of town get their garbage collected by private companies. The cost for picking up the garbage is in the form of a solid waste collection district tax which is $0.15 per $100.00 of the assessed value as part of the municipal tax while private companies cost in the range from $23 to $26 in the form of monthly payments.
Similar to other towns, the majority of the town’s budget is devoted to funding the local school system. Based on the average assessed value, the average homeowner must pay around $3,213.00 since $170,000 (the average assessment) * 0.0189 ($1.89 per $100) is $3,213.00, which also makes up about 60.99% of the property tax bill. The Edison school system consists of twelve elementary schools, four middle schools, and two high schools with 13,551 enrolled students as of February 29, 2004. The schools that I at-tended for elementary school is James Madison Intermediate, John Adams Middle School was the middle I attended, and I graduated from John P. Stevens High School. The private schools that are in Edison are the Bishop George Ahr St. Thomas High School, Wardlaw Hartridge School, the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva, Saint Matthew School, and the St. Helena Elementary School. Moreover, the Middlesex County College, the Cittone Institute, the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, the Stat-a-Matrix Institute, and the North Jersey School of Real Estate are colleges or educational institutions that are also in Edison. The town’s recently adopted school budget for the 2004-2005 school year is $166,606,925.00, a 4.8% increase from the 2003-2004 budget, which totaled $158,978,641.00. Of the $166,606,925.00 for the 2004-2005 budget, $129,329.00 is used to pay our superintendent, who is Dr. Vincent J. Capraro.
The municipal form of government in Edison is called the Mayor-Council plan, based on the provisions of the Optional Municipal Charter Law or the “Faulkner Act”. Under the Mayor-Council plan, the elected members of the municipal council are the legislative body, which has the power to approve local ordinances, decide on the budget, confirm the appointment of department heads as well as establishing departments, and has the power to override the mayor’s veto with a two-thirds majority. In Edison, the municipal council consists of seven members who are Joan Kapitan, William Kruczak, Anthony F. Massaro, Parag Patel, Charles Tomaro, and Peter J. Barnes, who is the council president. The mayor, however, functions as a chief executive, who has the power to appoint and remove department heads with the council’s approval, is in charge of preparing the town budget and has veto power on ordinances. The current mayor of Edison is George Spadoro, a former Democratic Assemblyman from the 19th district who served from 1988 to 1991. In addition, under this municipal government, both the council and the mayor serve for a four-year staggered term and they can be partisan, meaning that political parties are allowed in the town government.
In short, these are some interesting facts about my town Edison. As of this writing, I am in the process of moving out of Edison into Woodbridge. From my experiences in the town, I will not really miss leaving since the school system was a very restrictive environment and I am still able to go to Menlo Park Mall since I live in Woodbridge. In addition, the memories that I do remember most will be the Durham Woods Pipeline Explosion in 1994, which woke me up and gave me the impression that World War III had started as well 9/11 since many of my classmates had parents who worked in the World Trade Center; fortunately all their parents made it out safely. However, many John P. Stevens alumni lost their lives and my high school has dedicated memorial scholarships to in their name and interests. For the most part, my time spent in Edison has left me with mixed feelings, but I am strong enough to move on and start all over again in Woodbridge.