Mayor Cindy Rau-Hatton’s budget presentation next week to council will include a 2.5% decrease in appropriations while maintaining essential township services, despite the broken system in Trenton forcing drastic reductions in municipal aid and an influx of unfunded state mandates upon the Township. As Governor Corzine placed additional burdens upon towns across New Jersey, the Gloucester Township council refused to act responsibly on behalf of its residents, creating an additional unwarranted budget gap upon its residents.
“I have sat with department heads and will present a bare-bones budget that will not drastically impact any of our essential township services. However, the real unfortunate issue is the lack of municipal revenue, due to the oppositional attitude and actions of our council in blocking projects I’ve fought for over the last 3 years. Their irresponsibility has cost the Township millions of dollars in lost revenue, and ultimately will hurt our residents. Through their stalemating and inaction, council has chosen to allow our families to foot the bill for their ineffectiveness and political posturing.”
Among those projects that were formally supported by the Mayor and blocked by council are the following:
Nike Base I – When Mayor Rau Hatton was in discussions with an interested developer to purchase the Nike base for a potential $3 million cash sale, the current Democrat controlled council voted NO.
Nike Base Part II– After blowing the $3 million, council entered into an agreement with Dave Mayer’s client to sell ½ the Nike Base for $1.2 million. The client reneged on the deal and the Township only received the amount of the deposit for default: $265,000.
Moffa’s Farm – The State of New Jersey referred a developer to Gloucester Township for the sale of Moffa’s Farm to satisfy the developer’s open space requirement in conjunction with a project that was being done in Bellmawr, the council again said NO. Estimated Lost Revenue: $1,100,000.
Solar Energy – Two vendors wanted to invest their own money into developing a Solar energy project using the Gems Landfill as the area to house solar panels. A third vendor, who was related to the Democratic Chairman in Gloucester County, wanted Gloucester Township to pay $14 million dollars and hire them to run the project. This was the one our council wanted to consider.
The first vendor would invest $40 million of their own money and pay us a monthly fee plus some user fees that we would capture.
The second vendor would invest $60 million of their own money with similar fees as stated before.
Wrote the Courier Post (July 23, 2009):
“Over the last few years, several firms have come forward to express interest in compensating the township for the right to put solar panels atop the closed landfill.
What town, if given the opportunity in this lousy economy, wouldn't jump at the chance to turn a useless, toxic mound into a revenue stream that could also provide cheap electricity? Apparently Gloucester Township, where despite Rau-Hatton's proddings last spring to act quickly or miss a state window on special tax credits, virtually nothing has been done in a year to get solar panels built atop the landfill.”
Moving forward, Mayor Rau-Hatton insists council places progress above politics:
“I will present a budget to council for their review that adequately reflects the hand that they were instrumental in dealing us. Unlike them, however, I welcome their input on how we can better our Township during this process to avoid the council’s having to raise township taxes. I ask that they do their due diligence in putting forth full effort in exploring all possible ways to minimize costs for our residents before approving the budget, as is their obligation.
Further, they clearly must re-evaluate their own politically-motivated policies and move on projects critical to Gloucester Township in a timely, efficient and unbiased manner. Short of doing so, our families will continue to be forced to endure the burdens council insists on shifting onto them.”