Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pequannock Schools to Eliminate Taxpayer Input Monday

By Christopher Lotito

New Jersey already has some of the highest
school taxes in the nation.

All Pequannock residents are advised to attend the Pequannock Board of Education Meeting November 17th at 7pm at the High School to prevent their taxes from being permanently increased without public input.  Visitors may wish to bring a copy of their tax bill and be prepared to speak during the public comments portion at the beginning of the meeting.

The Pequannock Board of Education is about to engage upon an unconscionable act of hubris.  Early Saturday, the Pequannock Facebook group saw a surprising post by Pequannock Board of Education Member, Tom Salerno.  In that post, Salerno pointed out that the Pequannock Board of Education was set to vote on a measure which would completely eliminate voter input into the budget, effectively guaranteeing a school budget increase of 2% every year.  The first such increase would occur next year at over $724,000.

Salerno's message stated in part:
"This Monday night, November 17th, the Board of Education will be voting on Resolution PMC-127-15, a resolution that, if passed, will take away the community’s right to vote on the school board’s budget, as long as the budget stays within the 2% cap. If approved, this decision would increase the local tax levy by more than 2.5 million dollars over the course of the next four years, assuming the budget meets the 2% cap."

Salerno noted that though Pequannock taxpayers have been some of the most supportive individuals possible and have not voted down a proposed increase in years, the Board of Education will vote on this paradigm-shifting measure without any public forum or input from the taxpayers.  They will literally vote themselves their own raise, without outside input.

Salerno's entire message can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/226332979096/10153357556549097/

Pequannock News produced the following spreadsheet of projected tax increases*:
Year #YearProjected BudgetPer Year IncreasePer Household Increase
02014-2015$36,210,382.00
12015-2016$36,934,589.64$724,207.64$111.92
22016-2017$37,673,281.43$738,691.79$114.15
32017-2018$38,426,747.06$753,465.63$116.44
42018-2019$39,195,282.00$768,534.94$118.77
52019-2020$39,979,187.64$783,905.64$121.14
62020-2021$40,778,771.40$799,583.75$123.56
72021-2022$41,594,346.82$815,575.43$126.04
82022-2023$42,426,233.76$831,886.94$128.56
92023-2024$43,274,758.44$848,524.68$131.13
102024-2025$44,140,253.60$865,495.17$133.75
Total:$7,929,871.60$1,225.45
*Based on US Census Data of 6,471 households, schools budget as reported by NorthJersey.com.

As the spreadsheet demonstrates, Pequannock taxpayers can expect to pay an additional $1,225.45 over the next 10 years in addition to their already sizeable school taxes.  Even worse, Pequannock taxpayers will have no public forum in which to discuss this change and when passed, Pequannock taxpayers will have no meaningful influence upon the schools' budget.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Pequannock Stop & Shop

By Christopher Lotito

Dear Pequannock,

As of 7:45am on Friday March 16th, 2014 Pequannock is no longer a township without a supermarket: the long-awaited Stop & Shop is opening.

Congratulations to Arlene Putterman and all of the staff at the new Stop & Shop, we wish you tremendous success.  It is also important to note that in addition to the Stop & Shop we are getting a PNC bank outlet within the Stop & Shop and a Stop & Shop Pharmacy.  The Stop & Shop also features a deli replete with Boar's Head products, a bakery, an organic and health food department, expanded pet products, automotive and outdoor products, and of course sandwiches, salads, and sushi.  Fee free PeaPod Grocery Pick-up as well as the Stop & Shop Gas Rewards program are available at this location.  The store opening has brought 150 new job positions to Pequannock Township.  Bill Diffin, a Pompton Plains resident and Stop & Shop veteran, has been appointed store manager, for which we are grateful.

On the unfortunate subject of flooding, the new Stop & Shop is prepared with flood barriers at each door, an enhanced flood-resistant mechanical room, and a new water-resistant exterior paint.  Subterranean pumps will remove any water which does seep into the building.

All of this and the other renovations were done, amazingly, to LEED environmental certification standards making the building one of the few in the area to embrace sustainability along with the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne and the BestBuy of Riverdale.

In celebration of their opening, as well as in the spirit of good government and good citizenship, Stop & Shop has donated $1,000.00 apiece to the local Boys & Girls Club, Newbridge Services, and the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains, each of which performs community outreach and oversees a number of programs for the public good.

On a personal note, during my time as a municipal volunteer I went from being a member of the Environmental Committee learning about drainage (and lack thereof) in the area, to being a member of the newly formed Flood Committee working to improve flood response and mitigation, to being a victim of the flooding, and to finally becoming a member of Open Space Committee which oversees flood buyouts.  Suffice it to say that the opening of this Stop & Shop, the first supermarket in Pequannock since August of 2011, fulfills something which was deeply missed in our community.

Happy Shopping,
~Christopher

Here are a bunch of photos while you are waiting:



New digital scales in the produce department help you stay in budget.

They sell spicy kimchi here by the jar.  That's a good sign.

Specials lined up for the first day.

Spacious and festive fresh produce department.

The baked goods look great.  To their testament, no bagels or donuts were available when
I was there because they're baked fresh on site.

The new pharmacy and bakery.


This store has a huge frozen section.
Flood barriers on the exterior.

McDonald's for rent still, know anybody who is interested?



Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock Historic District, Open Space, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile