GUEST OPINION: Who can you believe? Vote no on new taxes May 8

by Harvey Lester
   History relates that when Mark Twain read his obituary in the newspaper, he felt compelled to write to the editor, saying, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
   Given what’s being said about the May 8 Hopewell Township bond ordinance referendum, I am compelled to paraphrase Mr. Twain: “The predicted demise of Hopewell Township for voting no on the bond ordinance referendum is greatly exaggerated.”
   After all three Township Committee members who supported the ordinance wrote letters to the editor explaining their votes, they predicted disaster for the township if the petition forcing a referendum succeeded.
   What happened? Instead of the minimum 667 required signatures, the petition garnered 1,700 signatures, and Hopewell Township did not implode.
   Ordinance supporters’ recent predictions of doom for the township ramp up the misinformation and scare tactics to new heights of absurdity. They would have you believe voting no on the referendum not only risks the township’s demise, but virtually guarantees it.
   In a game-changer, we cannot even believe ELSA, who told the township one thing and recently did the opposite.
   Hopewell takes its affordable housing obligation seriously, but right now nobody knows what that obligation is. Everybody knows what it used to be, but nobody knows what it’s going to be until the gridlock between the governor, the New Jersey Supreme Court and the Legislature is resolved.
   Perhaps, the supporters of the sewer ordinance have a portal to peer into the future. Somehow, it seems, they just know how much capacity we’ll need for they unequivocally support the township’s plan to purchase twice as much sewer capacity as needed.
   What? Surely, these bullish predictions are based on demonstrated demand. Businesses in the southern tier must be clamoring for sewers, right?
   Incredibly, not one potential customer has signed up. Nor have residents lined up to demand sewers. Just the opposite, and despite ordinance supporters claiming a health emergency, not one residence is being forced to tie in by the township.
   When the three Township Committee members in favor of this ordinance saw no one commit to sewer capacity, what did they do? Instead of modulating flow levels, they simply changed the way to finance their venture.
   Now, every single taxpayer in the township, including you, will be on the hook to pay for this excess capacity.
   Sewer capacity has always been a developer’s dream. If you do not know whom to believe because both sides claim the other will lead to over-development, consider this: Vote no or get a tax increase.
   When our affordable housing obligation is established, we will base the capacity we purchase on real data, not guesswork.
   As a lawyer, I appreciate clarity. Let me be plain. Voting no simply means the Township Committee will get a do-over at getting it right.
   And when they do, I hope they stick to these principles: Only pay for what’s needed, and only users should pay!
Harvey Lester is vice chairman, Citizens For Tax Choice (