Voorhees candidates collide over tax rate
By Brendan January
INQUIRER SUBURBAN STAFF
VOORHEES - The two Democratic candidates for the Township Committee blamed the mayor for a 22 percent tax increase over two years, and promised, if elected, to use their business experience to balance taxes and promote development.
Mayor Gary Finger and fellow Republican candidate Frank Dutton defended Finger's record and stressed the importance of buying open space as soon as possible, when land was still available.
"I believe that if we wait, the properties will be gone," Dutton said. "This is a priority. This is a quality-of-life issue. We don't have time."
The Democrats - Joe Lovallo and Manny Konstantinedes - joined the Republicans to answer questions on taxes, development, open space, board appointments and parking during a forum Wednesday night sponsored by the Voorhees Environmental and Recreational Alliance.
The Nov. 7 election for two seats on the committee will determine whether the Republicans can maintain their 3-2 majority.
Neither Konstantinedes nor Lovallo has much experience in government, but both stressed that their enthusiasm and experience in business - Lovallo in sales and marketing and Konstantinedes in restaurants - made them good candidates.
"I operate a small business in a field that has a failure rate of 90 percent," Konstantinedes said. "I will bring this experience to the improper handling of funds that has occurred over the past two years."
On the issue of buying open space, the Democrats expressed support but said stabilizing taxes, reducing debt and attracting businesses should come first.
Buying land "is short-term thinking," said Lovallo, who argued that "we have to retire old debt before taking on new debt."
The Democrats criticized Finger for not upgrading the sewer pump station on Cooper Road to support commercial growth on Route 73.
They also attacked the committee's use of "one-time revenues," such as a $665,000 sewer surplus in 1998 and a $730,000 windfall from a land sale in 1999, to balance the budget.
Finger said the money was needed to cover legal and planning costs associated with each windfall, adding that two Democrats - Gary Schlosser and Harry Platt - were on the committee. But, he added, he will not support such a policy in the future.
"The gradual [tax increase] rate makes more sense," he said yesterday. If "we had had a 3.4 percent increase every year, we wouldn't have had the shot we had this year."
The forum will be televised on Channel 18 at 7 p.m. Thursday and Oct. 29 and three times between 6 p.m. and midnight on Nov 6.
And THEN there was the following "New Jersey Notebook" item on sunday, 10/22 in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
View in Voorhees may bode ill for scouts
At a forum of those running for Voorhees Township Committee Wednesday night, the four candidates were asked a question: "The Supreme Court has recently ruled that some groups may discriminate. If elected, will you allow groups that discriminate to use township buildings?"
The question referred to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed the Boy Scouts of America to bar homosexuals.
However, none of the four - Democrats Manny Konstantinedes and Joe Lovallo and Republicans Gary Finger and Frank Dutton - seemed to realize the question referred to the Boy Scouts. Cued by the word discriminate, each asserted in no uncertain terms that he would never allow such a group to use township property.
That would be news to Cub Scout Pack 127, which has used the community center on the third Wednesday of every month.
- Brendan January, in Voorhees