Letter to the Editor: Hopewell Township Committee PILOTing deception


Did you see the Hopewell Township Committee Majority’s cost-benefit analysis of payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) at the Tuesday meeting, Feb. 19?

Me neither. I was there, and I did not see any such presentation.  What I did see was that Committee Member Kevin Kuchinski provided a biased, conclusory, one-sided, deceptive defense of PILOTs.

While the public had asked for a thoughtful, comparative cost-benefit analysis, complete with expected future costs based on projections by the School Board and Fire District, we received a benefits-only vision of revenue-paradise.

No doubt, this litany of omission, distortion, half-truth and misrepresentation was meant to justify the Township Committee’s past decision to give a PILOT to the developer of the Zaitz tract behind Shop-Rite and expected future decision to give a PILOT to the developer of the west side of Scotch Road.

First and foremost, Committee Member Kuchinski failed to identify PILOTs as tax breaks. Multi-billion (with a “B”) dollar greedy developers, U.S. Homes (Zaitz) and Fortress Investments (Scotch Road west) get to under-pay their fair share of taxes.  Such corporate welfare causes the rest of us pay more in taxes.

His misleading reference to previous township PILOTs at Hopewell Gardens (age-restricted) and Capitol Health (commercial) to non-age-restricted residential PILOTs at Zaitz (379 homes) and Scotch Road west (2150 homes), distort the fact that additional school children generate higher school taxes for the rest of us.

Regarding school taxes, Kuchinski promoted the half-truth that a PILOT has “no impact on our schools.” On the one hand, it is true that the township’s selfish grab of 95 per cent of the payments from these developments, does not remove tax payments that are due or were already paid to the schools. On the other, when the schools do not receive needed revenue, they just raise taxes higher.

On his misrepresentation claiming that affordable housing is an “unfunded State mandate,” this is simply not true according to the courts.

Harvey Lester