To the editor:

Is this the first of many broken promises?

At the Flemington Borough Council meeting on Aug. 22, 2016, Jack Cust presented his Main Street redevelopment plan, and when questioned if it would increase taxes for Borough ratepayers, the developer promised that “any infrastructure costs would be absorbed by the development.” Cust made the following promise:

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“It will not impact the taxpayers of this town. If you study the Borough Budget...and understood anything about the borough budget, would understand that the operating budget of the Borough of Flemington is about $4.5 million. We will move the revenue in that budget up substantially, net of any costs, net of any new requirements...the net number will grow substantially.”

After the Tirpok fire on May 4, borough residents stated that their water pressure dropped and Council members said it did not. Per the approved minutes of the May 8 Council meeting, Councilman Brian Swingle stated that, temporary water ponds set up during the fire to contain water were precautionary, “that the borough wanted to reserve some capacity, but also bringing in extra water helped get the water to where it was needed more quickly than it could travel through the water mains.” Then again on May 22, Councilman Swingle stated, “Regarding water pressure during the Tirpok fire...the borough maintains a specific level in its tank, and while water pressure may have dropped a bit while the fire was being fought, there were no problems.”

Isn’t it interesting that our Council turns its attention to improving our water system just in time for Jack Cust to build his eight-story development that would require increased water pressure? Here are the plan details...

On July 24, the Flemington Council approved the introduction of a $4.5 million, 30-year bond to repair its current water tank and add a new tank that will ultimately increase pressure in borough’s water system. The borough’s cost estimate is $3.5 million plus $100,000 annual maintenance costs (New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust Environmental Planning Document - Level 1, July 2017, page 8). Of which, only $1.1 million is for repair of the current water tank (ibid, page 31).

We were promised that “any infrastructure costs would be absorbed by the development,” and instead have added expense against our operating budget - for the next 30 years. Jack Cust promised to pay for the infrastructure necessary for his project and also increase our operating budget.

The Mayor and Council promised that our taxes would not go up, however, we are borrowing for the next 30 years to pay for a new water tank and system improvements necessary for Cust’s project. Our Council needs to hold Jack Cust to his promise and stop raising our taxes.

Michael Harris, Flemington