Kendra Hatfield is a Lumberton Township Committeewoman, and a Democrat. This post promoted to the front page by Rosi, who doesn’t think GOP legislator Ryan Peters understands this legislation at all.
The Ryan Peters “Rain Tax” Road Show made its way to Lumberton Township last night. While the Assemblyman himself was not present, his fingerprints were — in the form of a short-sighted resolution that ignores Lumberton’s long history of devastating floods. Mayor Sean Earlen as much as acknowledged in his comments that this resolution served just one purpose — to grandstand on behalf of Assemblyman Peters in a tough election year — while having no practical effect on the lives of any Lumberton residents. It was designed solely to use the Township Committee process for political messaging.
In March, Governor Murphy enacted a law (S-1073) — similar to one already in place in 41 other states — to give flood-prone communities the tools they need to upgrade their stormwater management systems, keep vital waterways clean, and make much-needed infrastructure investments. It’s absurd that this still needs to be said, but this law is NOT a tax on rain. It gives municipalities the option to hold developers accountable for their impact on flood conditions and the cleanliness of our waterways.
Between 2004 and 2011, the Rancocas Creek experienced three severe floods — the impact of the 2004 flood is still memorialized by a high-water mark on Lumberton’s old firehouse, which had to be vacated by the Fire department because of its location in a flood plain. The result has been millions of dollars in damages and an additional $6 million in expenditures by Burlington County to purchase properties in flood-prone areas. The Republicans may not call that a “tax,” but it is nevertheless money that comes out of taxpayers pockets.
This law was designed specifically for towns like Lumberton. Whether this Township Committee, or any future committee, ultimately decides to avail themselves of the benefits of this law is a serious discussion that should be had. What the Republicans did last night instead was to make a knee-jerk response for purely political reasons, and ignore their responsibility as elected officials to make honest assessments of any law that purports to benefit our residents. They were also willfully dishonest with the residents in attendance about what this law does by continuing to push the false narrative that it is a “rain tax,” and claiming that they were “saving” homeowners from increased fees — which the law does not obligate any municipality to impose. The fact is that flood prevention, clean waterways and infrastructure investment are something with should all care about — regardless of party.