Author Archive: djkeelan

Economic Development Combined with Tax Relief Proposed by Connie Cain Hamilton Township (Mercer) NJ

Connie Carella-Dalton Reveals an Innovative Tax Relief Proposal in her Campaign for Hamilton Township Mayor

Connie Carella-Dalton revealed a Tax Relief Program for Hamilton Township residents that combines a “Shop Local” program for economic development and ties it to the Township’s Taxation Department.

Hamilton Township has over 40,000 households that shop all across Mercer and Burlington Counties. Often times, Hamiltonians partonize businesses from out of the township despite that similar services are available within the Township.

As a means to incentivize Hamiltonians to spend more of their dollars within the Township, Carella-Dalton is proposing to issue a Municpal Tax Rebate Card to residents. When the resident uses their Tax Rebate Card at a participating business the business can chose to apply any portion of their existing discount program to the Hamiltonian’s “Tax Rebate account”

From the Computer Keyboard of John Bencivengo

The former Mayor may have had poor accounting practices and he did leave office with a deficit.

What I outline below are the statements from John Bencivengo that I believe supports my stance  that a 33% permanent tax in the amount of $13.3 million was not necessary. I would not have voted for it. Instead, I would have insisted on a temporary tax increase – a one year event.

I also take the position that the furloughs of police officers and other Township employees was unnecessary. Given the failure to properly plow our streets last winter, the delays in leaf pick-up and Xmas Tree pick-up, the need to call in about a pot hole instead of proactiveness from PW to find and repair potholes, etc. I also question the need and wisdom to lay-off 27 people

Here in chronological order are statements from John Bencivengo from four of his Budget Messages – 2009 thru 2011 (he did two budgets this year).

Gilmore’s last budget was $80 million.

The 2008 budget (JB’s first) was $90 million.

From the 2009 Budget published at www.hamiltonnj.com

2009 Budget $94,207,813.92 (later ammended to $94,370,827.11)

Compared to last year the budget increased by $4.8 million

Found on page 7 of 64 in Budget package

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

inspection fees were increased which will result in an additional $1 million in revenue

Found on page 8 of 64

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

Overstaffing was identified and postion were eliminated. As a result 28 positions were eliminated and other postions were downgraded resulting in a savings of $2.2 million.

There were a total of 55 postions eliminated, of which 27 were lay-offs.

Found on Page 8 of 64

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

There has been enough of an impact from these endeavors that only a modest tax increase of $.01 will be required to balance the FY09 Budget.

So much for JB’s and his team’s mantra of “no Tax increase for 4 budgets”. A penny is small, but it amounts to a $5.3 million tax hike too.

Please keep in mind that there was a $13.3 million permanent tax hike in 2008.

Found on page 8 of 64

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

From the 2010 Budget published at www.hamiltonnj.com

2010 Budget $96,115,444.92

For the second fiscal year in a row there will be no increase in municipal property taxes. All residents will pay the same amount for municiipal taxes as they did in Fiscal Year 2009

They raised taxes in 2009, though? That’s what JB said in his 2009 budget message as cited above and in the link to his Budget Message.

From page 6 of 72

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

In addition, for the first time in memory the total amount of tax rateables has decreased by $2 miillion.

I am well aware that we were in the middle of the recession at this period. However, his $13.3 million permanent tax hike was not helping the situation.

Found on page 8 of 72

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

2011 Budget $99,258,191.26

Found on page 6 of 586

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

Summary

This election year JB has departed from his $5 million, $10 million and other deficit claims and is going with inheriting a $16 million deficit. OK (not really), for arguments sake we’ll go with what I believe to be an exaggeration.

Below, starting with a negative $16 million, I add all of the savings components and the tax increases to see if it balances out…it doesn’t.

2008 Deficit         – $16 million (one-time)

2008 Tax Hike     +$13.3 million (4 times)

2008 Inspec Fees +$1 million (4 times)

2008 Lay-offs       +2.2 million (4 times)  

2009 Tax Hike      +5.3 million (3 times)

Total $65.9 Million in added revenues.

From the $65.9 million we take out the $20 million in added spending cited above and are left with $45.9 million.

From the $49.5 million we take out the $5 million in lost aide and Energy Receipts and are left with $45.9 million.

Where is it? Where is the $45.9 million?  It is not in snow removal and it is certainly not in pothole repair. It is not in new and updated corner nor mid-block cross walks located at our schools and our retail areas. I do not see it in a Complete Streets program or new streetscaping.

And when one goes through JB’s own budgets it is obvious that two tax increases were overkill and unnecessary – especially in the middle of a recession which makes them reckless.

AFL-CIO’s Building Trades Council Endorse Hamilton Republican John Bencivengo. WHAT!?

How can Mercer-Burlington Counties Trades Council endorse this man after what he is doing to Public Workers?

Update: September 18, 2011

The piece I wrote below is intended to persuade people to my position as to what I feel John Bencivengo has unfairly put public workers in Hamilton Township through. I simply use Wayn’es comments to frame my position regarding Public Workers.

Clearly, Labor and Public Workers have different areas of concern. As such, Labor has to act in accordance with their interests. And I believe that (overall) organized Labor’s interests are the same as all of our interests.

Though I wish Connie Carella-Dalton had received the endorsement, I respect that Labor is an independent organization and is free to make the choices that they feel are in their interests – political affiliations aside.

Wayne DeAngelo dd not shirk his responsibility to speak on behalf of the organizations that he represents. That is to be admired. What is equally admirable is Wayne’s overall representation of and advocacy for all of the residents within LD 14.

Republican Hamilton Mayor John Bencivengo, who is running for his second terms as mayor of the state’s ninth largest city, Wednesday received the endorsement of the Mercer-Burlington Counties and Vicinity Building Trades Council, AFL-CIO.

According to Democrat NJ Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, who also serves as President of this Council

Mayor Bencivengo has demonstrated a genuine concern for working families, responsible labor practices and the right to collective bargaining, which our local councils recognize and support

Really? A Democrat stating that a Republican has concern for working families? Is for responsible labor practices? The right to collective bargaining? Really?

Labor and Democrats are the H to the 0 as in H20. Isn’t this development surprising? It is to me, after all, I am running on the ticket of John Bencivengo’s opponent, Connie Carealla-Dalton.

What is happening in Hamilton Township? Is John Bencivengo a RINO? To answer my own question No, he is not. He is as unfriendly to labor as most republicans are.

I know what Carella-Dalton wants to do for the working families (union and non-union). I know what Bencivengo has done to hurt these families and workers. I know what he has not done to protect these families and workers.

Here is what I know about John Bencivengo’s concern for working families and for responsible labor practices.

1) He has taxed the working families out of this Township.

He has made a variety of claims about a deficit when he arrived in office in 2008. He has claimed it was $5 million, $10 million, $14 million and $16 million.

It is an election year, so I think he is settling on $16 million.

To “fix” the deficit he gave the working families of Hamilton Township a permanent $13.3 million tax hike.

There are currently almost 700 listings of home sales in this township. That represents 2.5% of Hamilton’s housing stock. Nearly twice what it is in other nearby municipalities.

He is chasing the working families out of this township. In this regard, he lacks any semblance of concern for working families.

2) He has taxed businesses out of this Township.

It is not affordable for businesses to stay in this township Nor is it affordable for businesses to locate to this township.

Without businesses expanding and relocating to Hamilton Township there is no work for Hamiltonians.

Cases in point: Ritchie & Page (over 100 employees) leave Trenton and leap frog over Hamilton to relocate in Robbinsville.

Case in point: Church & Dwight (over 600 employees), do an end run around Hamilton to relocate from Princeton to Ewing.

Hundreds of constructions jobs and thousands of dollars in rateables missed.

The tax was reckless and a business & community killer.

3) He privatized the Township’s Planning and Engineering Department.

He stated that there were not enough applications from new businesses to justify keeping this Department within the municipal government.

So, he closed it and outsourced the service. How is that for protecting public workers and their families?

4) He has raised building and inspection fees to generate an additional $1 million annually.

What? He said there were not enough new businesses or existing businesses filing applications to fund this department. So, he raises fees by $1 million. Why? To what end? To incentivize business to come to the township or to expand within the township?

Again, he has chased businesses away from the Township. As a result, he has killed jobs for this township’s workers.

5) After raising taxes $13.3 million and collecting it for 2 years, in March 2010 he furloughed every public worker 8 days (this is after he laid-off 28 workers and eliminated another 27). Then in June of the same year he tried to give himself a raise.

He was successful in giving every Department Director a raise.

OK, collected $26.6 million, makes a grab for a raise, gives his political appointees raises and then furloughs every worker for 8 days. I do not get it. Does anyone reading this get it?

6) His Personnel Director does not have the Civil Service Credentials to be a Personnel Director.

The person in charge of public employees isn’t qualified to do the job.

That creates a situation ripe for abuse. So, how is it that Bencivengo believes in the right of Collective Bargaining when the person responsible for enforcing the bargains is not even qualified to do so?

7) Of what little construction and development that is taking place in this Township I know of only one job that is using local labor on the job.

Every job site that I see has cars from Delaware, PA and NY.

Where is John Bencivengo on this issue? Why is he not insisting local workers get a share of the available jobs?

To summarize

– Raised taxes on residents in a blue collar township.

– Raised taxed on business owners.

– Killed growth, killed job opportunities.

– Made it too expensive to do business in Hamilton.

– Clearly lied to the Public Worker Unions when he furloughed them.

– After forcing furloughs he tried to give himself a raise until he got caught.

– After forcing furloughs he did give his political appointees raises.

– Has no one in his administration qualified to enforce the terms of collective bargaining agreements.

There is nothing that this man has done and there is plenty that he has failed to do to show he is friendly to working families, supports collective bargaining or adhere to responsible labor practices.

A Prequel to the 2014 NJ Gubernatorial Elections -Hamilton Township (Mercer)

Hamilton Township (Mercer) Connie Carella-Dalton Takes on Chris Christie’s pal, John Bencivengo, Head-to-Head

A prequel to the 2012 Elections take place on September 20th from 11:30 AM to 1:30PM. On this day, we have an opportunity to hear Connie Carella-Dalton explain to Hamilton Township residents what is her vision for Hamilton Township.

Along side Connie will be the incimbent Republican Mayor, John Bencivengo, who will desperately try to justify his nearly 40% tax hike from 2008, his union busting tactics and his justification for reduced services AKA HamStat.

Afterwards, each candidate will take questions from the audience.

Sponsered by the Mercer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, this event will be held at the Stone Terrace in Hamilton.

http://mercerchamber.org/CWT/E…

Union Busting In Hamilton Township (Mercer)

Hamilton Township is the Birthplace of the Modern Day Tactics of Union Busting

Well, to start, there is no Labor Day Parade in Hamilton Township, but that is merely a by-product of Labor unfriendly leadership within the Township.

Long before Chris Christie became Governor of New Jersey. Long before Wisconsin’s actions against Collective Bargaining. Long before John Boehner became Speaker of the House. Long before Republican Mitch McConnell became Senate Minority Leader…Hamilton Township has had John Bencivengo, Kevin Meara and Kelly Yaede hard at work busting up the Public Workers’ unions of the CWA, AFSCME and the PBA.

As we analyze what has happened in Hamilton Township it is as though Christie, Wisconsin and the Congressional Republicans ripped a page out of the Hamilton Republican’s playbook.

Claim a fiscal crisis and blame the public workers.

Bencivengo and team came into office by accident. On Election Day 2007, the Times of Trenton headlines screamed deficit and these three rode into office. http://nl.newsbank.com/nojavas… .

Since then, they have seized upon this deficit claim to justify a host of actions against the Township’s Public Workers, which they state were needed to save the money of Hamilton Township taxpayers.

With the backdrop set of “fiscal crisis” and historical deficit levels these three, along with the sitting Republicans on Township Council, began to work to bust up the CWA,

AFSCME and PBA workers.

What is remarkable is that they moved forward with tax hikes and public worker lay-offs and furloughs without ever having actually naming what this deficit amount was. They have said it was $10 million. Then they said it was $8.8 million and $14 million. Next they said it was $16 million. Finally, they said it was $5 million.

Below, in chronological order, are the links to the various deficit amount claims by the Republican incumbents.

http://www.politickernj.com/be…

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file… (see page 16)

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index…

http://www.trentonian.com/arti…

So, in 2008, the first thing that they set about doing was lay-off 54 public employees and reorganizing the Police Division.

In March 2010 they forced 8 furlough days on the remaining public workers in the Township. But in June 2010 they found the money to propose giving John Bencivengo a raise and to actually give significant raises to the non-Union Department Directors.

In 2010 they privatized the Engineering and Planning Department as well as the Ecological Center – further displacing public workers.

A further indication of their disregard for Public Workers and Collective Bargaining is that the Township’s Personnel Director is not an actual Personnel Director – lacking all Civil Service level requirements to hold such a position.

Bencivengo and the all Republican Council continually discuss how rising benefit costs are wrecking the Township’s budgets and that these costs need to be brought under control.

All of this is poor politics and pure political spin. The largest single increased cost to Township residents is  the enormous increased spedning and probable waste i.e. HAMStat, the reckless and very “un-Republican” 2008 $13.3 million permanent Tax Hike that these elected officials gave to residents. A tax increase that they instituted without knowing what the true financial picture of the Township was.

The next largest burden on the Township has been decreased State aide followed by the State’s hijacking of the utility Gross Receipts tax then followed by the diminishing property tax receipts.

Yet, despite their cries about labor costs and benefits increasing so dramatically over the past four years they have still found themselves able to increase Township spending a cumulative $20 million.

Yes, there is a global recession. However, due in no small part of the $13.3 million annual tax hike, Hamilton Township has lost more revenue due to lost tax receipts from exodusing businesses and residents than what the increasing labor and benefit costs have been.

The Public Workers in Hamilton Township are hardworking and have sacrificed much for the betterment of the Township. Unfortunately, their sacrifices appear to be borne out of Bencivengo’s, Meara’s and Yasede’s generalizations as well as their insincere and unsubstantiated claims of fiscal crisis.

Bencivengo, what was the REAL 2007 deficit?

The True Story of a Reckless & Unnecessary $13.3 Million Permanent Tax Hike

Hamilton Township Republican Mayor John Bencivengo and running mates for Council, Kelly Yaede and Kevin Meara have been running (scared) for office since the day they raised taxes by nearly 40% in their first 3 months of office back in 2008.

Frankly, they should be running scared. When elected, they never understood the fiscal situation that they faced thus they had and still have no justification for their enormous nearly 40% tax hike. Even today they personally do not know why they offered a permanent tax hike for a situation that they did not understand.

So, to compensate, as they run for reelection they blame the “other Mayor” for this historic tax hike of nearly 40%. They state that we had faced a “historic fiscal crisis the likes of which Hamilton has never seen.” and they needed to raise taxes.

They used generalizations and obscurity to pull off instituting a reckless tax hike, a scam and a disservice on the taxpayers of Hamilton Township. But most disturbing is that  they pulled off this reckless tax hike without knowing what the alleged 2007 deficit amount was.

Remarkably, even today, they do not know what the deficit amount was.

Here is how it transpired and here is a narrative of their various claims of various deficit amounts.

They won election to office in 2007 by the “happenstance” that the Trenton Times printed a headline on Election Day 2007 which read- $5M shortfall for Hamilton Red ink revealed in document ordered released http://nl.newsbank.com/nojavas… . I suspect that this headline surprised these three more than it did the then incumbent Mayor. Essentially, they won on an issue that they did not even campaign on, but which they have rigorously seized upon since their reckless 40% tax hike.

They never truly understood the situation left by the former Mayor. As a result, they blunder and they have blundered endlessly in defining for Hamiltonians what this “historic fiscal crisis” was – exactly. So, for the past 4 years they managed to pull out of the wallets of Hamilton residents a cumulative $54 million in extra tax dollars.

If it were not so damaging to the neediest of Hamiltonians and a “defrauding” of all Hamiltonians, the series of different deficit claims that they have uttered would be comical., In all, they have cited four different amounts for what this 2007 deficit was.

In a January 1, 2008 PolitickerNJ article Bencivengo said the deficit was $10 million and Meara and Yaede concurred.

I wish that I could have given a more cheerful address today,” said Bencivengo in a nod to the town’s $10 million budget deficit. “But even if our fiscal circumstances had been better, even if we had ample surplus, I’d be saying the same things. It should be our goal, no matter the circumstances, to do more with less.”

http://www.politickernj.com/be…

What Bencivengo actually said that day was ” a budget deficit exceeding $10 million.”

At a Township Council meeting on February 6, 2008, then Business Administrator, John Guhl, added $5 million, $1.8 million and $2 million to come up with a deficit total of $14 million??? Granted, I did the math in my head, but I come up with $8.8 million. You can read Mr. Guhl’s explanation on page 16 of the Hamilton Township Council Minutes: http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

On June 17, 2008, Bencivengo stated that the deficit was $16 million.

Bencivengo heaped praise on Guhl, saying that the exiting administrator had given the township “a turnaround beyond compare” as he attempted to tackle a $16 million budget deficit during his six months in office.

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index…

Then, most recently, in a July 9, 2011 Letter to the Editor of the Trentonian John Bencivengo stated that the 2007 deficit was $5 million!!!

Who can forget the $5 million dollar deficit depicted in the Annual Financial Statement of Fiscal Year 2007?

http://www.trentonian.com/arti…

On top of the fact that Bencivengo, Meara and Yaede are playing games with Hamiltonians by continually hyping up and exaggerating a deficit – they did permanently hike taxes by $13.3 million annually.

Meara said, “but clearly there was a tax increase – I voted for it. At the time with the large deficit we had,

http://www.trentonian.com/arti…

Again, Meara does not offer anything concrete. He only states that that there was a “large deficit”.

Bencivengo, Yaede and Meara got away with the tax hike because they offered Hamiltonians only fear and exaggerations. There is, to this day, no clarity on what the actual financial situation was at the beginning of 2008. They obfuscated, dodged and ducked to introduce as a permanent tax increase of $13.3 million. This is an extraordinary amount which, as a temporary tax increase, would have addressed any number of their deficit claims.

In all, the politicians in Hamilton Township government have raised over $80.1 million thru increased taxes, increased fees, lay-offs of public employees (including police) forcing 8 furlough days on police and other employees and by privatizing the Planning & Engineering Department as well as the Ecological facility.

Meanwhile, they have cumulatively increased spending over 4 years by $30 million (so much for doing more with less John Bencivengo).

That’s a $50 million gap!. Where the heck are those $50 million?

There are bigger issues in Hamilton Township than paving roads. Hamiltonians have been blatantly lied to for four years – essentially robbed of $50 million through a unwarranted permanent tax hike.

Candidate Happenings in Hamilton Township (Mercer)

Candidate Events in July & August 2011

Please support these candidates by attending their Campaign Events.

Check to see if donations are required in order to attend.

Sun, July 24 12:30pm – 4:30pm

Assemblyman Dan Benson’s 7th Annual Back Yard Bash @ 81 Hempstead Road Hamilton, NJ

Sat, July 30, 12:30pm – 5:00pm

Sheriff Jack Kemler’s Annual Family Outing @ Tall Cedars Picnic Grove

http://hamiltondemocratsnj.com…

August 4th 5:30PM

Evening Mixer with Council Candidate Tennille McCoy @ Hamilton Manor at The Cellar

http://www.facebook.com/pages/…

August 17th All Day

Connie Carella Dalton for Hamilton Mayor

Ice Cream Social @ The Brown Dog in Mercerville (Carella’s Hallmark)

http://www.facebook.com/pages/…

Saturday, August 27 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm

Daniel Keelan for Hamilton Twp Council @ Trenton Thunder

http://www.facebook.com/pages/…

Hamilton Township (Mercer) NJ’s Mayor John Bencivengo Admits to Inheriting a $5 Million Deficit

John Bencivengo Finally Gives the 2008 Budget Deficit a number – $5 Million

After years of obfuscation about what the amount of debt was when he took office in 2008 John Bencivengo, in a Letter to the Editor of the Trentonian, states,

“Who can forget the $5 million dollar deficit depicted in the Annual Financial Statement of Fiscal Year 2007?”

http://www.trentonian.com/arti…

Throughout his 3 ½ years in office, John Bencivengo and Hamilton Township’s all Republican Council have pointed to a variety of differing amounts in defining what the deficit was.

In a Trenton Times article of June 17, 2008 announcing the appointment of John Ricci as the new Hamilton Towsnhip (Mercer) Business Administrator (in place of John Guhl), “

Bencivengo heaped praise on Guhl, saying that the exiting administrator had given the township “a turnaround beyond compare” as he attempted to tackle a $16 million budget deficit during his six months in office.”

http://www.nj.com/mercer/index…

John Bencivengo stated in his January 1, 2008 Inaugural Address

“we are confronted by the most serious financial crisis in our history, a budget deficit exceeding ten million dollars.”

http://www.hamiltonnj.com/file…

The Mayor has finally given Hamilton Township residents a true picture of what the “most serious financial crisis in our history” was that confronted his administration upon taking office in 2008. His comments also put a spotlight on the fact that this $5 million deficit accrued under an all Republican Township Council’s watch.

It was the intentional murkiness of defining what the actual deficit was that allowed John Bencivengo and his Township Council to reorganize the Police Department, lay-off and eliminate 55 township positions, impose an 8 day furplough on all township employees and to raise municipal taxes to historic rates.

Now, this November, Township residents can make an informed decision about the incumbent Mayor’s and all Republican Township Council’s decision to address a $5 million deficit with a permanent $13.3 million tax hike.