To the Editor:
Does anyone else feel we are being told by Mayor McLaughlin that we should all just be happy with a 4.68% municipal tax increase? To do this, she erroneously compares a tax increase to a spending level of the 2015 Republican-led Committee budget, telling us her spending is still below that mark. I won’t go down the path of the 2015 Public Works building fire, which was part of the reason, as the insurance money came in, and had to go out, in the same year. Rather, let’s explore a few other areas (which can be found on the Township’s website) where she claims comparative leadership, but are false.
Mayor McLaughlin speaks to lowering the municipal debt. However, in 2015, the Republican-led Committee changed protocol and decided to increase initial down payments to 20% on equipment with a five year expected life-value. The current Committee has gone back to the old ways of only putting down 10%, essentially planning to pay over ten years for equipment expected to last five years. Additionally, in 2015, the Committee decided to take significant steps to reduce the Township’s debt, and paid toward our debt service roughly $6.5 million, $2.5 million more than the year before. Since then, the Democratic-led Committees have not committed to pay down the debt at that level, and only pay a little over $5 million.
She also claims that they are providing more services, and can only point to bulky waste pickup. Should that really be considered a service added back, since we actually have to pay an additional fee when a resident schedules a pickup? Another fact to challenge this claim of more services is that since 2015, they have reduced the staff by 17 full and part time positions. These jobs were being filled by our friends, family, and neighbors. It seems hard to believe we are getting more services with fewer people.
Additionally, they have disbanded the finance committee, a dedicated committee comprised of volunteer residents, designed to bring new and diverse thought to our budgeting process. Perhaps, if we still had that committee looking over the numbers, they would have called out we currently have over $1.4 million dollar liability in unpaid vacation time accrued by our employees, yet have only allocated $13,000.
Please join me and vote for John Hart and Ed Jackowski for Hopewell Township Committee on November 5. As local, longtime business owners they know how to be fiscally responsible, manage resources and provide services appropriately, and it is not done by taking prices up 5% a year and delivering less.
2015 Hopewell Twp Committee member