To The Editor,
I went to a township meeting last night to get some clarity on our finances but unfortunately was afforded none, so I decided to write this letter.
In 2012, an ordinance was approved to raise our water rates 39 percent, and sewer rates received a 67 percent increase. It was stated at that time, in a NJ.com article, that the increases were necessary to pay down township debt. All of that debt has since been paid off, and by 2016 the township had a 1.2-million-dollar surplus. But yet, here at the end of 2017, only a 2 percent reduction of the water rate is being explored.
Last month’s committee meeting referenced new lighting at 3 different sport fields, 2 new 2018 ford explorers, and 2 “state of the art” Chevy Tahoe command vehicles. The Chief said the lights will help with security; but security, or safety for that matter, wasn’t on his, the township’s, or school’s mind when they removed busing for 11 families with cut through traffic and no sidewalks. Cars continue to speed down the hill of my street. And the last time I checked, I counted four newer model Ford Explorer Police SUVs at the municipal building.
It would have been an enormous relief to the residents of East Greenwich if the water and sewer taxes were repealed, or even halved, once we had a balanced budget. Or if some of that money was used to pay for our children to have a bus, or sidewalks installed, so they’re not expected to walk in the streets to school. The Mayor has been mentioning that our taxes have been kept static. But are property taxes really “static” when these water and sewer rates have remained in place? I would have much rather NOT have been hit with $800 water bills, HAVE our kids receive safe transportation to and from school, then have new security lights, SUVs, and command vehicles.
I believe its disingenuous to tell residents taxes have been kept “static” when there’s a backdoor property tax (i.e. water and sewer tax) that is being exploited beyond its intended use. The astronomical water and sewer rates are a burden on local businesses, new and old. Also, keep in mind our already significantly underfunded schools pay the water and sewer taxes too. So if you’re serious about helping our children, residents, and bringing ratables here, not going on spending sprees and eliminating those taxes should be the priority. Not to mention the taxes are unevenly distributed due to the fact that some residents have wells.
Our leadership sets the tone, whatever they neglect sends a message that it’s not important. I want our school’s leadership to send a message that our kids are important. I want our town’s leadership to show that the tax burden on its residents is important. Effective leaders create solutions, not excuses.