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Sewer Bills Become Political Hot Potato

Mindy Scarlett

Saturday, October 13, 2012 • 11:06pm

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Last week, the first installment of the Scotch Plains sewer tax was due, causing a flurry of information from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

The Democratic Party sent out a press release saying that voters had “ Mary De Paola to thank for creating this new tax. In 2009 Mary De Paola and the Republican Controlled Council supported the removal of the Sewer bill from the municipal budget where it has always been, and created a new tax to pass on to Scotch Plains Taxpayers” said Louis Beckerman, Chairman of the Democratic Party

 “When the sewer tax came before the council, I stated it was nothing more than a gimmick designed to get around the 2% budget cap” said Mayoral candidate Kevin Glover.  “And that is why I voted against it. What adds insult to injury is the fact that there is an $800,000 surplus in the sewer fund that Mary refuses to return to the taxpayers where it rightly belongs” added Glover. 

“A serious conversation about the sewer fee can't be had without first attacking the underlying issues that led to its existence, the continued inefficiencies of a municipal government that is no longer meeting the needs of the taxpayers that fund it,” said Council candidate Colleen Gialanella.  “The sewer utility is an end run around the cap. Simply put, the sewer fee stinks.”

 “Our residents are pretty smart and they are not going to be fooled by this kind of campaign season nonsense.  My phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from incensed taxpayers," said Mayor DePaola.  "The simple fact is that eliminating the Scotch Plains Sewer Utility would result in an immediate $2.9 million property tax increase for our residents and businesses." 

Mayor DePaola continued, "With state imposed property tax caps to consider, not only would the Glover-Gialanella plan spike our taxes, it would also necessitate across the board cuts to essential personnel and services in our police, fire, and public works departments.”  

Mayor DePaola further outlined that the current sewer budget for Scotch Plains is $2,900,359, an amount that pays for sewage treatment costs, as well as the salaries of those who handle the administrative duties of the Authority and the physical maintenance of the sewer system.  In her opinion, the Glover-Gialanella Plan would immediately transfer these costs back to taxpayers instead of all the users of the sewer system.

"What the Glover-Gialanella team proposes is not only a property tax nightmare, it is inherently unfair," said Councilman Saridaki.  "Under their plan, sewer fees would no longer be based on water usage and taxpayers would be forced to pay for the sewer usage of property tax exempt properties across Scotch Plains."

On Thursday, October 25, voters will have the opportunity to hear both sides on all of the issues currently under discussion prior to the election by attending a Candidates Forum at Town Hall at 7:30.

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