Did you hear the one about the deputy mayor who denied taking much-needed funding from the schools, even though she previously voted to shift school-entitled revenue from our schools to the township? This occurred when she voted in favor of the Zaitz Tract property tax reduction to multibillion-dollar corporate real estate developer U.S. Homes.

If you had attended the Hopewell Township Committee Meeting on Aug. 27, you would have heard deputy mayor Julie Blake claim, “I wouldn’t take money from our students,” although her vote during the previous township committee meeting to approve a property tax abatement, also known as a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT), results in taking lots of money from our students.

She was not alone in hijacking school-entitled revenue. She was joined by Democrats Mayor Kevin Kuchinski and Committee members Kristin McLaughlin and Michael Ruger. Only Republican John Hart voted to allow the schools their full funding.

How much school-entitled revenue did Deputy Mayor Blake and her Democrat-colleagues deprive from the schools? More than $56 million over 30 years. Let’s do the math. Each tax dollar is divided among different taxing entities. Schools receive approximately 60 percent of each tax dollar; the township receives approximately 13 percent with the county, fire district and open space also receiving a share. According to New Jersey comptroller A. Matthew Boxer in his 2010 report on municipal tax abatements, PILOT enables the township to transform its 13 percent share of those property taxes into a 95 percent share, with 5 per cent for the county and nothing for the school district. Since, over 30 years, the township will receive $93.5 million more than its standard entitlement, the schools will be deprived of $56.1 million (93.5 x 60 percent). And that’s no laughing matter.

— Harvey Lester