To the editor:

I read the article, “Hunterdon Freeholders Tout County Budget's 'Flat Tax Rate',” with great amusement. Where else do you get to hear so much self-congratulatory clap-trap from a bunch of politicians who – to quote Bruce Springsteen – “don’t [do] nothing at all, they just sit back and let it all be?”

According to my property tax bill, the County tax is just 12.74 percent of what I pay. When the Freeholders congratulate themselves (I believe the term we New Jerseyans prefer is “enjoy a circle jerk”) for saving money, they do absolutely nothing from their ivory tower to help us with the other 87 percent of our whopping property tax bills, which are totally out of control.

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If the Freeholders want to take credit for a fine job,  they should get with the plan and do something about all the much bigger components of our property taxes! They seem to have a lot of free time on their hands – their meetings are awfully short.

Here’s where Matt Holt, Suzanne Lagay, John Lanza, Susan Soloway and Shaun Van Doren could really make a difference, if they had the political stomachs to do it:

  • Put a lid on municipal taxes – in Clinton Township, that’s 13.62 percent of our bill. Why are the good Republican brethren of the Freeholders increasing our taxes to the 2 percent cap this year? Much of this is due to the affordable housing mandate and to out-of-control bonding, borrowing, debt service and over-use of surplus and “deferral of school tax payments.” The Freeholders, as the next higher level of government, need to get to work helping whip our local officials into shape – and to do something about the Fair Share Housing Center, which has become our new Mafia collection guy.
  • Put a lid on the North Hunterdon-Voorhees tax, which is also going to the maximum 2 percent increase this year. But, surprise, student population continues to drop like a rock! The freeholders could bring this school board in for a talking to, about how it looks really bad to spend more when you’re educating fewer kids! (Reality check to Matt Holt: It doesn’t matter when 12.74 percent of our government is debt free while you sit back and watch the rest of it sink under massive debt service. We dare you – haul up the NHVSD leadership by its britches and put it in detention!)
  • Put a lid on the Clinton Township School District tax, which is actually almost flat. But that’s like celebrating when your kids all move out because you can downsize and live on less while enjoying it more! This district has gone from a student population of almost 2,000 to around 1,100. While the school board crows that it’s not increasing taxes, we’re wondering why they haven’t cut their spending and our taxes by about half! (Meanwhile, our teachers have worked 6 of the last 8 years without a contract.) The Freeholders – if they had the stomach to speak up – could put a leash on our school board and shame it into fiscal frugality. The Freeholders could rent two of our vacant school buildings to store road salt!

The Freeholders are notorious for quick meetings and avoiding controversy. They like it when they’re left alone to funnel massive state and federal funding to the recipients of their political choice.

Freeholder Director Suzanne Lagay is living in an alterted state of consciousness when she asks, “What else in anyone’s life is less costly now than it was six years ago?”

Not our town government and schools -- the other 87 percent of our exorbitant property taxes, Suzanne!

As our county’s leader, you should stop shamefully congratulating yourself and your fellow county politicians while you all studiously avoid exerting your considerable influence over our towns and schools. We’re getting far less and paying far more! Perhaps with all those savings you’ve “generated,” the Freeholders could take a course in Leadership 101.

Nick Corcodilos, former Mayor

Clinton Township