Political campaigns are an important opportunity for candidates to voice their opinions and concerns about issues that affect our community and to express constructive ideas on how we can do better.
Over the past weeks, several communications from Dan Hanley and Jenn DiDonato have been sent to Township residents making claims regarding Hopewell Township finances which are misleading, so I want to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
For example, Dan and Jenn have suggested that the “sky is falling” on the Township’s Surplus balance, and that millions of dollars have been diverted to justify higher Township spending.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Hopewell Township’s Surplus balance currently covers 43% of Township revenues, which Moody’s considers a “AAA” level. This not only is sufficient to cover many months of Township expenditures, but is also healthier than many, if not most, NJ municipalities.
Additionally, our prudent use of Surplus in 2017 enabled us to reduce the Township’s debt load by almost 10% in just one year, and we directly funded $2 Million dollars of capital needs that year. This will pay dividends to Township residents in the years ahead as we lower our interest and debt service costs.
Let’s turn next to Township spending. Our mandate is to provide the services residents expect, for less. Over the past 5+ years, we have held the line on spending, not only staying within NJ’s 2% cap, but also bringing the annual tax rate change down by over 60% vs. when Republicans were last in-charge. Additionally, our cumulative budget over the past three years has come in well-below the rate of inflation. This year, the increase in spending was less than 2%, at a time inflation was 8-9%.
Finally, let’s look to the future. Mayor Peters-Manning and David Chait led our efforts this past year to reduce the total Hopewell Township tax rate by -2%. But that is just a small down-payment on the future – the Committee’s work to attract new commercial ratables to the former BMS campus, most notably BeiGene, will pay dividends to Township residents over the coming years, and the PILOT agreements (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) will supercharge Township revenues, allowing us to further reduce the burden on residential taxpayers.
Some may try to twist the truth or imply otherwise, but when it comes to responsible financial management, your Township Committee has a proud track record of success. And we will continue working on your behalf to keep taxes low and to fight for more effective and efficient government.
Please join me in re-electing Courtney Peters-Manning and David Chait on November 8th.
Kevin D. Kuchinski
Hopewell Township Committee and Finance Liaison
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