To the Editor:
I am writing in response to the from Scotch Plains Democrat Chairman Lou Beckerman. It contains many misrepresentations and inaccuracies that I would like to clarify. Here are the facts:
First, the fact is that the sewer utility was created to enable the council to remain under the state-mandated cap in 2009, not so that it could raise taxes. In fact, the municipal portion of our taxes decreased significantly that year. The alternative to creating the utility was massive layoffs of approximately 28 township employees. Indeed, if this year’s budget passes, our municipal tax rate will be 3 cents lower than in 2008.
Second, the fact is that the sewer utility is a much more equitable way of paying our sewer bills. We now pay based on actual use rather than paying based on the value of our houses, which means that Mr. Beckerman and Councilman Glover, who both pay fairly substantial property tax bills, are paying less now under the new system. It also means that nonprofits that never paid before are paying now, bringing more than $100,000 per year to the township that it was not able to collect under the old system. Because commercial and nonprofit users now pay their fair shares, every resident pays less than they did under the old system.
Third, the fact is that the entire surplus in the sewer utility is being returned to the rate payers. The majority of the council chose to return it in phases to avoid huge spikes in the rates over the next two years, particularly for the commercial and nonprofit users who now pay the overwhelming majority of the bill.
Fourth, the fact is that the mayor was the first to discuss the issue of the surplus at a council meeting. Mr. Beckerman was not in attendance at the untelevised meeting. In fact, the mayor asked the CFO to discuss the large surplus at the conference meeting where they were scheduled to set the rate, exactly at the time they needed to discuss it. Unlike Mr. Glover, however, the mayor does not spend her time taking credit and patting herself on the back. In fact, she shared credit with Mr. Glover in spite of the fact that she was the first to address the matter.
Fifth, Mr. Beckerman questioned whether the mayor addressed the downtown business owners about the SID and the $400 SID fee. In fact the $400 charge was the result of a meeting with one of the leaders of the business community who said the flat fee would make it more acceptable. The mayor had numerous meetings about the SID with the business community over the last 6 years, including a couple of meetings at Scotch Hills. In fact the first time the SID was considered, there were open meetings every week for 6 months.
Sixth, the fact is that any money that Councilman Glover claims he has saved, or would like to save the taxpayers, pales in comparison to the $25,000 per year he is costing us taxpayers in the health benefits that he takes from the township. I’m fairly certain he is the only member of the Scotch Plains Council who does. Mr. Beckerman is comforted by Mr. Glover ‘looking out’ for hm. It seems to me that Mr. Glover is really only looking out for himself.
Scotch Plains Republican Chair