HAMILTON, NJ -- Hamilton Township residents recieved their property tax bill for the third and fourth quarters of 2019 and their estimated bill for the first two quarters of 2020 on Tuesday with an extra note from Mayor Kelly Yaede explaining and critiquing four areas that contribute to it.
In the letter, which was viewed by TAPinto Hamilton/Robbinsville, Yaede states that "The Hamilton Township Municipal Government is responsible for less than 28% of the property tax bill, with the balance being set by Mercer County, the Hamilton Board of Education, and your Fire District.
"Hamilton Township has no control over these amounts, and must collect the amounts imposed by the separate governments."
Yaede’s note points to four areas that impact the budget: Municipal (Township Portion) tax cut; Fighting against subsidizing Robbinsville's sewer cost; paying off debt; and fire consolidation.
"Once again, the Mayor sees fit to mislead the public about its finances. She racked up bills on the town's credit card and only this year realized we didn't need to borrow the money," said Council President Jeff Martin, who is running for mayor against Yaede in November. "I am proud to be part of a council that, in two years, reduced the town's debt after it grew nearly 30 percent under this mayor."
Reached by phone, Robbinsville Mayor David Fried called the accusations that Robbinsville owes Hamilton $1 million for past sewer utility service a "political gimmick with wild claims that have never been substantiated."
"Robbinsville and Hamilton have had an amicable (sewer) budget for 40 years," said Fried. "This is an election year gimmick to mask the fact that the Hamilton administration spent their surplus and this will result in higher rates and taxes next year for their residents."
Yaede also sent out an email to residents on Tuesday regarding the tax bill. The message specifically listed the tax rate changes of each of the eight fire districts in the Township.
The email also sought to draw a contrast between the municipal tax rate and the fire district tax rates set during the past three years.
"For comparison, over that same period of time, Hamilton Township Municipal Government taxes have increased by 0.8 % per year. Therefore, Fire Taxes have increased by about nine times the rate of increase over Municipal Government taxes over the same time period."
Speaking to the portion of the letter referring to fire consolidation were the leaders of FMBA Locals 84 & 284, the unions representing Hamilton’s professional firefighters.
“In firefighting we thrive on trust, knowing we can count on the men and women around us to do the right thing,” Nick Burozci, President of FMBA Local 284 said. “Mayor Yaede has shown again the same standard doesn’t hold in her brand of politics.”
Asked to be more specific Dave Krueger, President of FMBA Local 84 offered a reminder that the fire district budgets referred to in the letter are the only ones subject to voter approval and that all were approved earlier this year.
“The same taxpayers are missing out on the benefits of fire consolidation because Mayor Yaede has blocked it by refusing to negotiate in good faith.”
Fire District consolidation advocate Councilwoman Ileana Schirmer said that Yaede has "done whatever she can to mislead the public on fire districts.”
"The Mayor has declared full blown, all out war against our firefighters," Schirmer said. "As Mayor, she has taken liberties to use the township website for her own political propaganda to score political points. Yet, she has neglected to address the serious issues that affect the town."
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