Letter to the Editor:
While I am fully on board with efforts to keep property taxes low, needlessly sacrificing the principle of fairness is not something I can support.
In that regard, the town council's 3-2 vote to approve to move $100k from the sewer utility to offset the general budget is the wrong decision.
First and foremost, it is unfair to the approximately 54 entities that are Federal and/or State tax exempt (such as churches, schools, etc). I am a member of the JCC and YMCA and I know they pay hefty sewer bills. However, with this decision, part of their sewer bill payment is no longer available to hold down future sewer bills, and is simply lost to them.
Second, consider two hypothetical families with the same water usage who have each paid a $200 sewer bill. But one family lives in a $300k house, and the other in a $900k house. With this vote, if the family in the $300k house gets back $25 from the sewer utility, that means the family in the $900k house will get back $75.
Third, this decision is setting a bad precedent. Some day in the future when unforeseen events arise causing a real budget crunch, the precedent will be set for elected officials to say, "Hey, let's just take the easy way out and raid the sewer utility surplus again".
When the sewer utility was created, one of the reasons cited was the issue of fairness. Pay for what you use. Pretty simple. Why change now?
And while it is nice to see that all our elected officials have gotten the message that NJ property taxes are out of hand and need to be kept low, we the voters are smart enough to differentiate between those who only advocate for using surplus, or rainy-day funds, to hold down taxes, and those who work toward real reform of government.
To that end, I commend Deputy Mayor Mary DePaola and Councilman Bo Vastine for their vote opposing this needlessly unfair re-direction of the sewer surplus funds. Instead, it should be used to reduce next year's sewer bill by that amount.