To the Editor:
As a working mother, I know how important finances are to my fellow residents. When I was elected to the Township Committee in 2015, I pledged to exert greater fiscal discipline over our budget, and I am proud of what the Committee has accomplished over the past three years. Let me share with you some highlights.
Since 2015, we’ve reduced the Township’s total operating expenses by 5.9%. Over the same period, our average budget increase has been less than 2%. Some of this savings comes from a deliberate and disciplined effort to reduce the Township’s debt load. Over the past two years, we have reduced the Township’s overall debt by 12%. That includes $1.8 million in debt reduction in 2018 alone.
Our fiscal discipline has helped taxpayers. Mercer County reports that for three years in a row the Hopewell Township Committee has delivered the lowest equalized municipal tax rate in the entire County.
The sale and development of the Zaitz and Woodmont properties will bring over $110 million to the Township over the next 30 years. These agreements will help us meet our Supreme Court mandated Affordable Housing obligation, while raising an unprecedented amount of money for our operating budget at no detriment to the School District.
The Superintendent of the Schools, Dr. Thomas Smith, clarified the importance of this financial PILOT agreement: As he wrote in an official letter to the Township Committee. “The District assumes any (PILOT) monies will be used by the Township to offset the overall tax burden on the residents of Hopewell Township.”
“We receive the exact amount we requested,” he explained, “regardless of whether or not a municipality has negotiated a PILOT.”
While it is essential to watch our spending, I am committed to improving our social infrastructure – creating spaces where we meet, play, and come together as a community. We all benefit from preserved farmland, open space, parks, trails and sites for recreation including the proposed Community and Senior Center.
I have kept my pledge to hold taxes in check and will continue to insist on fiscal responsibility if elected to another term. I will also continue fighting to preserve Hopewell Township from threats such as the PennEast pipeline and continually enhance what makes it such a unique place.
One of the pleasures of serving as your representative is talking with you about your ideas and your concerns. I hope that we will continue our conversation over the next three years and work together to keep Hopewell Township affordable, welcoming, and green.
I ask for your vote on November 6.