HOPEWELL: Agreement with developer steals revenue from schools and others


To the editor:

It’s not easy being a political cheerleader for the Kuchinski-Blake administration, which has a well-deserved reputation of being the least transparent and most deceptive Hopewell Township administration in many years. Just ask Andrew Borders.

In his letter to the editor (Agreement with developer will bring in millions, 8/10/18), Borders defends the Kuchinski-Blake corporate welfare property tax giveaway to multi-billion (that’s with a “B”) dollar corporate real estate developer U.S. Homes Corporation. His letter demonstrates either his shallow understanding of municipal tax abatements, also known as a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), or his support in the scheme to steal revenue from the schools and other tax collecting entities. In other words, either Borders was deceived himself by the administration or is an active part of their public deception.

Municipal abuse in doling out property tax breaks, which results in unfair taxation, has been the subject of criticism for years. Most notably, in 2010, New Jersey State Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer issued a blistering report of the short-sighted, self-serving practice, which results in an unjust enrichment for municipalities at the expense of schools, counties and other tax-collectors.  He wrote that “95 percent of the negotiated PILOT is kept by the municipality, with 5 percent for the county and nothing for the school district.”

When this residential developer enables new students in our schools or needs fire protection, those costs are pushed onto the rest of us, who will be taxed beyond our fair share for that lost revenue. And what about transparency and accountability? There were no public work sessions and no public cost-benefit analysis, but there was an ordinance introduction, which contained false claims, and a last-minute 131 page application, without meaningful review.

Cheer on, Mr. Borders. Through this politically-motivated giveaway, the Kuchinski –Blake administration transformed its 13 percent property tax share into a 95 percent windfall, leaving the schools and the rest of us cheerless.

Harvey Lester