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.”
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.
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?
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,
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.