It’s time school board learned that the sky is not the limit

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Opinion Opinion

To the editor:

Egg Harbor Township School Superintendent Scott McCartney states that the money matters of the school district should concern all residents of Egg Harbor Township, not just the stakeholders. But why? It is not as if the taxpayers will ever see any tax decrease or even taxes staying level. Any thinking taxpayer knows that since we no longer have the chance to vote a budget up or down, we are guaranteed to see the maximum tax increase permitted by the state each and every year.

For those that say oh, no, the school board members would fear being voted out, puh-leeze! The school board has a built-in constituency of teachers and support staff that they reward with large raises every year. People hired by whom? Oh right, the same school board.

There is no incentive for people to get up in arms because we are going to be paying the same taxes no matter what. I remember clearly not too many years ago when the board received unexpected money from the state. They said, well, we could give this back to the taxpayers (who had just endured a tremendous tax increase), but we are going to spend it instead. I remember when the township committee had to force the school board to enroll in the cheaper state medical plan for its employees when the budget was voted down –something that should have been done years before.

As for Thor Himley complaining that the township is charging more to pick up the school's “rubbish,” no problem for me, because I will see the benefit of that in my local purpose tax. Mr. Himley may argue it is money from the left pocket or the right pocket, but no, the township committee does make an effort to keep taxes down, and the school board has never seen a tax increase it did not love. It has never cared at all about the people paying those increases.

Of course, it will be books and programs and food from the mouths of babes that the school board will have to cut. Three-quarters of a million dollars spent on a field house would have bought a lot of books. It is about priorities, not the bottomless pit of taxpayer money the school board has enjoyed until now.

I agree EHT has been treated unfairly and shortchanged by the state for years thanks to Pinelands legislation. Old-time residents know I fought that battle for 20 long years: the protests, the letters, the empty promises from our elected leaders. What I learned is that the government can always out-stubborn you and outspend you. So you make adjustments, school board, and spend less.

But it is for a new crop of young people to learn that lesson or not – and for the school board to maybe learn that the sky is not the limit any longer.

Janis Hetrick


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