History of Kevin Glover and the Scotch Plains Democrats Part Two
You can find the first part here.
Scotch Plains Budgets
From his very first budget process, Mr. Glover showed his partisanship and lack of understanding of our finances. Even with Township professionals such as our Municipal Manager, Chief Financial Officer, and Auditor, in addition to his four Council colleagues warning that expending too much of our fund-balance or surplus is dangerous to the finances of the Township, Mr. Glover would not relent. His mantra year after year was, “We can do better.” He said this of course without offering realistic alternatives to our budget appropriations. Each and every time it was all about spending down our fund balance and grandstanding at budget hearings, “We can do better.” On more than one occasion, our professional finance team labeled Councilman Glover’s proposals “Reckless.”
When I pointed out to Councilman Glover that reckless use of our fund balance in order to appear heroic to taxpayers is especially dangerous if the economy worsens and the Township revenue stream slides, I distinctly remember Mr. Glover looking me in the eye across the Council caucus table in 2007 and saying, “I think the difference is, I am optimistic about our future.”
While it easy to be in the minority of a 4-1 bipartisan Council budget vote and simply proclaim, “We can do better,” had your local government accepted any of Mr. Glover’s “reckless” budget proposals over his first five budgets, our town’s finances would be in deep trouble; especially since this nation’s economic climate did exactly opposite of what Mr. Glover envisioned back in 2007. To his credit, Councilman Glover did join his fellow Council members in adopting this year’s municipal budget.
Shackamaxon Golf Club
Because of the above-mentioned difficult economic times, Shackamaxon Golf Club was threatened with closure. Officials from the club represented to the Township that there were dozens of builders that were anxious to purchase the 145 acre property and develop it for residential homes. As the property is zoned R-1 for one acre minimum per home, total development of the property would yield upwards of 100 homes. The impact to our community would have been catastrophic. While tax revenues to the town would at first blush increase, the burden to our infrastructure and most importantly our school system would be disastrous. The cost of purchasing a property and building a new school to educate the new students would be back breaking to property taxpayers.
Thankfully, our Township Council stepped in and enacted an ordinance that gave them more control of what could be developed at Shackamaxon. The goal of the ordinance was ultimately to keep as much open space as possible at the property and prevent overdevelopment. While Kevin Glover was initially on board with the proposal, he ultimately flip-flopped and voted against the Township plan.
Ultimately, the strategy employed by the Township Council worked. While there was no doubt a lot of legal wrangling going on that incurred costs, the golf course and the vast amount of open space has been preserved and a plan to build age-restricted condos on the interior of the property is moving forward. Too many get lost in the posturing the Town’s plan that could have relocated Township buildings to the Shackamaxon site if an agreement to preserve the golf course could not be reached. That of course is what got the necessary parties to the table so an agreement could be forged.
Had Councilman Kevin Glover gotten his way, there is no doubt that the Shackamaxon Golf Club would be gone and the construction of 100+ residential homes would be underway. This would have been an unmitigated disaster for our community.
This is perhaps one of the more egregious positions that Mr. Glover has taken and still promotes today. For the longest time, Scotch Plains sewer costs were incorporated into your property tax bill. The cost for your sewer use was not based upon what you put into the system, but rather by the tax assessment on your home. Additionally, because there are so many tax-exempt properties in Scotch Plains, homeowners were paying the sewer costs for these facilities. Further, homeowners were burdened for paying the sewer costs of commercial properties such as restaurants that were putting much more into the sewer system than what was accounted for in their property tax bill.
Because state government had enacted laws that capped municipal yearly property tax increases at 2%, keeping the escalating costs of sewer usage in the property tax bill would have resulted in massive lay-offs of important personnel such as police officers and a drastic reduction of essential services to our residents. By creating the sewer utility and taking the cost of sewers out of the property tax, it prevented the massive layoffs and cuts in services and also created a more equitable system where we were no longer being charged for others’ sewer usage. Councilman Glover opposed the creation of the sewer utility and to this day gives no reasonable plan for the necessary lay-offs and service cuts if the utility was dissolved.
The bottom line is this: The cost of sewer usage and the utility is approximately $2.9 million per year. If that cost were to be re-incorporated into the property tax bill it would create a massive property tax increase that would be well above the state imposed 2% cap and necessitate a voter referendum to approve the above-cap tax increase. In the unlikely event of the voters approving such an increase, the cuts to essential personnel and services would be devastating to our town. While Kevin Glover and the Scotch Plains Democrat campaign claim that they will eliminate the sewer utility, the fact is they simply cannot.
Members of the Township Council are considered part-time, yet up until two years ago, they were entitled to take the Township’s health benefits plan for their families. In the past there have been several Council members, both Democrat and Republican, who took these benefits. Two years ago NJ State government passed legislation prohibiting part-time Council members from taking the health benefit plan. Kevin Glover has taken the family health benefits since he arrived on the Council and continued to do so after the State Legislature ruled it was illegal to do so because he took advantage of a loophole that allowed his benefits package to be “grandfathered.”
Now, Councilman Glover is the only member of the Township Council that takes these benefits that cost taxpayers approximately $25,000 per year. Considering he has taken the benefits for six years and now wants four more years as our mayor, the cost to taxpayers just to pay his health benefits could total nearly a quarter million dollars! “We can do better,” indeed
Vote of 2008—Vote of 2012
Here is an interesting tidbit with which to conclude. Below you will find a link that tells the election results in Scotch Plains for 2008. In it you will see that in Scotch Plains, Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain by nearly 1300 votes. Democrat Kevin Glover was making his first attempt to run for mayor and lost by 700 votes. While there were 100 fewer voters casting ballots in the mayoral contest than the presidential contest, it is obvious that hundreds of Scotch Plains voters made the conscious decision to vote for the Democrats at the top of the ballot and then make a change to the Republicans in the municipal race.
There is a reason for this and much of it can be attributed to many of the items I wrote about in this expose. It was my intention to remind the citizens of Scotch Plains why they rejected Kevin Glover for mayor four years ago and that reasons remain the same as we head to this year’s Election Day.
Paulette Coronato, Scotch Plains Township Council