Opinion: Sawicki was only HVRSD board member to vote against property tax increase

Did you receive your property tax bill last month? I did and I was pretty unhappy with the significant increase it reflected. I am more than willing to pay my fair share for necessary services but when increases occur without proper justification, it requires a closer look at the data.

I looked at the Tax Allocation Comparison enclosed with my bill and two entries stood out. The first was the total rate increase for all categories, that equaled .073 (which means a 7.3 cent increase that is later multiplied by your home’s assessed value.)

The second entry that caught my eye was the school district’s increase of .07, (or a 7-cent increase.) While everyone knows that the schools account for almost 60% of our total property taxes, their proportion of the increase is far higher.

I attended the public school board budget meeting in 2019 and spoke out against not only the proposed 5% tax increase, but also the $2.2 million over cap portion. That increase has propelled the Hopewell Valley Regional School District to the highest per-pupil costs in Mercer County. I recall the board president saying the massive increase was needed to ensure that there would be no cuts in program or teachers.

I also recall the first meeting after the board passed its budget when they transferred $2.5 million to a capital reserve account earmarked to disallow spending on educational programs, teachers, or rising insurance premiums. I was disappointed and vowed to use my vote to hold the board accountable.

Fortunately, Adam Sawicki, the only board member that had the courage to vote against the massive tax increase, is seeking re-election. This year, Mr. Sawicki took over as chair of the Finance Committee and is beginning to get the district’s financial house in order.

Please vote for Adam Sawicki so we can keep our schools excellent with more responsible spending.

Peter Sandford

Hopewell Township