To the editor:
Clinton Township Council members Amy Switlyk and Brian Mullay are running for third terms. Their six years in office are marked by financial disasters and hiding their bad decisions. They brush off public scrutiny, mischaracterize serious problems, and avoid the truth about soaring taxes.
This year the tax rate is up 13.45 percent, 4 times the next highest in the area. The school budget is down 0.8 percent. The budget is up 6.99 percent, compared to Readington's 1.96 percent.
In December 2017, after a "closed" council meeting, Switlyk and Mullay approved a settlement agreement with affordable housing advocate Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) to build over 800 new housing units in the township. They allowed no public comment, held no hearing, didn't reveal housing densities of 10 units per acre, or that 400 will be built on land approved for only 21. They also approved a $30,000 donation to FSHC.
Switlyk and Mullay approved suing Readington Township to confiscate its sewer capacity for Clinton Township's affordable housing, without any public discussion. Readington revealed our lawyers who wrote the deal also work for Readington. Conflict exposed, the Council had to back off.
A town our size should have about $1 million in surplus. At the May 24, 2017 budget hearing, the auditor said, "Our surplus at the end of this past year was $49,000. It's low...In 2015 it was $849,000. They used $800,000 to balance the 2016 budget. That left them with 49."
In other words, to avoid raising taxes and disclosing serious financial trouble, Switlyk and Mullay voted to use almost all their surplus to balance the 2016 budget.
But it was much worse. Having depleted the surplus, Switlyk and Mullay approved sending a check to the school board for over $1 million, throwing the township into a $908,000 deficit. They had to certify to the State that Clinton Township is a "Non-Qualifying Municipality," the equivalent of getting audited by the IRS.
When difficult questions arose at the budget hearing, Switlyk said, "How many topics are you going to bring up?" Asked to explain the $908,000 shortfall, Mullay said, "It's paperwork. I mean, I hate to put it that way but it's paperwork." He blamed "previous administrations" 13 years ago.
In December 2018 the school board sued the Council for payment of school tax revenues. An expert "Municipal Finance Officer" certified that "the Township has created an endless cycle in which it has become dependent on the school district's tax revenue to fund its own budget...The Township's scheme [deferring school tax payments] is essentially like using one credit card to pay off another. It is not sustainable."
Supporting source documents are at exmayor.com.
Switlyk and Mullay have covered up feeble government and questionable fiscal management for six years. Republicans who vote party line should ask, can we afford three more years of these "Republicans"? Democrats should realize their votes count, but only if they vote. Independents should be aware that in the expected light turnout on Nov. 5, their votes could turn the tide for Clinton Township.
Nick Corcodilos, former Mayor