Letters to the Editor: Week of November 2, 2017 (Part 3)

The following is Part 3 of letters recently submitted to the editor of MercerMe:

Correcting misleading statements by Lester

In response to Mr. Lester’s recent letter to the editor… , I wanted to correct and clarify the record. At the Township Committee meeting on October 23, Chief Financial Officer Elaine Borges, a licensed professional affirmed, “Hopewell Township has the lowest municipal tax rate in Mercer County, as well as the lowest equalized municipal tax rate.”

Mr. Lester’s letter falsely suggests otherwise, and improperly looks at the total tax rate for the Township which includes the school and county taxes.

Ms. Borges went on to note that Marty Guhl, the Director of the Mercer County Board of Taxation, confirmed that Hopewell Township delivered the lowest equalized municipal tax rate in Mercer County. This analysis is now publicly available on the Hopewell Township website at: http://www.hopewelltwp.org/273/Tax-Collector. Look for the link at the bottom of this page for “2017 Municipal Equalized Tax Rates.”

As a former Committee Member, Mr. Lester should be well-aware that Hopewell Township does not have control over the tax rates set by the County nor the School District. Sad to see “fake news” like this being imposed on Township residents.

Several additional important points of note regarding the Township finances:

  • Hopewell Township has held the line on taxes over the past two years, delivering an average rate change of only 1.1% per year. This is well below NJ’s 2% cap, as well as the rate of inflation;
  • In 2017, the Township has reduced operating expenses below 2015 levels, while managing the increased cost of state mandates on affordable housing, bringing back valuable services like Bulky Waste and back-filling key township positions;
  • Debt has been reduced as well, reducing future interest costs significantly; and
  • Hopewell Township maintains a AAA-rating from S&P due to its strong track record of fiscal management.

Kevin Kuchinski and Michael Ruger have championed fiscal responsibility in Hopewell Township and deserve our vote for Hopewell Township Committee.  Please join me in voting for both Kevin and Michael on November 7th.

Debbie Ayers, Hopewell Township


Response to John Phillips’ Letter

We are writing concerning last week’s letter (10/24) to the editor from John Phillips, and wanted to correct several points he made regarding seniors and the hiring of the first senior coordinator.

We were both involved in this process, through our work with the Senior Advisory Board and in Hopewell Township and Pennington Borough, and respectfully would suggest that Mr. Phillips has significantly over-stated Volpe’s role in the hiring of the first senior coordinator.

While Phil may have made an initial introduction to the good folks at Princeton Healthcare, it was the many hundreds of hours of hard work and perseverance of others over two years that eventually led to the ultimate funding, position creation and hiring of the first senior coordinator in 2006, especially Bill Farmer, Severino DiCocco, Larry Mansier and the many others who have served on the Senior Advisory Committee since it was formed in 2005.

Edwin “Weed” Tucker, Pennington

Vanessa Sandom, Hopewell Township


Beware Lester’s Twisted Words

I am writing in response to Harvey Lester’s most recent letter to the editor on sewer expansion. Like previous Lester letters, this one is full of misleading statements and twisted logic.

Perhaps we should not be surprised considering this is the same man who famously switched parties so that he could become mayor. It’s pathetic that in today’s era of “fake news,” some people will apparently do anything or say anything to advance their misguided agenda.

I watched the most recent Hopewell Township Committee closely, and wanted to directly address and refute Mr. Lester’s letter.

First, the proposed waste water management plan REDUCES the net Township acreage in a sewer service area, swapping in land that was already designated for affordable housing, but permanently protecting two other tracts on or near Route 31. It’s hard to fathom how a reduction in net acreage can accurately be characterized as expanded sewer access, as Mr. Lester suggests in his letter.

Second, Mr. Lester neglected to include several other pertinent facts in his letter. Specifically, the township will receive 170 acres along Washington Crossing-Pennington Road and the banks of Jacob’s Creek. This will enable Hopewell Township to protect this viewshed corridor, and also create a 1000-foot natural buffer along Jacob’s Creek.

Democrats have a long history of fighting sewer expansion and the associated unchecked development, tracing back to their fight against John Hart’s proposed deal with the Trenton Sewer Authority and carrying forward to their rejection of the proposed ELSA expansion in more recent times.

By contrast, Republicans have twice worked to massively expand sewers in Hopewell Township. And earlier this month, one of the Republican candidates for Township Committee suggested that we should spread our affordable housing obligation around, in Titusville and other locations across the Valley. This just doesn’t make sense.

Please join me in rejecting fake news and voting for experienced candidates with a proven track record of protecting Hopewell Township’s rural character. On November 7th, please vote for Kevin Kuchinski AND Michael Ruger for Hopewell Township Committee.

Peter Sandford, Hopewell Township (Pennington)


The Democrats’ Sewer Service Solution

On October 23, 2017, the Hopewell Township Committee passed a Resolution that removed at least one area, which had been preserved as open space, and could never have been sewered, from the sewer service area, and placed a parcel on the west side of Scotch Road across from the Municipal Building into a sewer service area.

For MercerMe’s coverage of the sewer service change, please see this link.

I have asked Mayor Kuchinski to explain the action but, as yet, there has been no response. In the absence of a response from the Mayor or anyone “in the know,” I have been thinking a great deal about that action. The most charitable explanation I can provide is that the Democrats on the Township Committee, who voted in favor of the Resolution (the sole Republican voted “no”), legislated what they may argue was a benign transfer of sewer service areas.

I see it differently. In doing so, they transferred sewer service out of an area that previous Township Committees and Planning Boards, through extensive public hearings, had never wanted to expand sewers to an area that previous Township Committees and Planning Boards had deemed to be inappropriate for sewer service.

Will the new area be used to meet the affordable housing obligation?  Will the new area become overdeveloped? I do not know, but if it is, the HTC’s actions carry profound implications for traffic and schools, which, appear to have been ignored.

And so, I simply say, be careful when the committee finally responds. This was an extraordinary measure made without outreach to the public. The action was questionable.  In the absence of public hearings at the Planning Board and the HTC, this process was insulting to the public.

Cheryl Edwards, Hopewell Township (Pennington)


Kuchinski Expanded Sewers Last Week

I write to rebut the letter of Hopewell Township Committee Candidate Kevin Kuchinski in which he claimed that he fought sewers (MercerMe, 10/13/17).

Last week, at the Township Committee meeting on Monday, October 23, 2017, just 4 days after Candidate Kuchinski made the same claim at the League of Women Voters debate and just 10 days after MercerMe printed his claim in his Letter to the Editor, he voted to approve a Township Committee Resolution to expand sewers into an area that, previously, was not able to have sewers.  In fact, all attending Township Committee Democrats voted to expand sewers, while the lone Republican Township Committee member voted against the resolution.

Don’t take my word for it.  Watch the videotape of the meeting for yourself and see Candidate Kuchinski and his fellow-Democrats vote to expand sewers over Republican objection.

Harvey Lester, Hopewell Township (Titusville)

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