Christopher Benedetto shares his reasons for why residents should vote down the Dec. 11 referendum.
Editor’s Note: The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Cherry Hill resident Christopher Benedetto.
For the last 18 years, I have had children in Cherry Hill schools and participated actively in the Fair Funding effort to restore our state aid. As someone who still has children in the schools and cares deeply about our community I want to explain why I am voting no to all three bond questions.
First, the annual operating budget for our schools has gone up year over year, and our local “Fair Share” of taxes has gone up to 125 percent. Passage of this bond signals to Trenton that residents are ready to continue paying more in local taxes (versus state aid owed to us) to support our schools.
Second, most of our schools are at or near end of life. This should have been raised in the township master plan. This was not done because of a legal technicality (our schools will not have a new footprint) so this means that the bond is essentially throwing good money into bad infrastructure.
Third, there’s a lot missing and back loaded in the bond, and some costs that should be carved out. Missing: Mold remediation. Bulletproof glass. Door locks. Back loaded: Lead and asbestos remediation. Should be carved out: Hardscaping and paving costs that the township might be able to cover.
Fourth, if the effort that went into pushing this bond by the BOE and the school district went into lobbying the state, getting grants, and establishing a long range plan, we would not be in the situation we are in. The bond is a Faustian bargain and the tactics used by the district have been careless, manipulative, and borderline illegal.
Bottom line: I will be voting no to questions one, two and three. The new BOE should be allowed to re-work this bond post-January.