Solebury resident Stan Marcus is hopping mad.
He claims that New Hope Borough overcharged the local school district for permit fees for its recent campus revitalization and added the extra cash to its general fund.
A former board member of the New Hope-Solebury School District, Marcus spoke out on the subject at the Jan. 21 borough council meeting.
“Several years ago, at the start of a $28 million revitalization project by the New Hope-Solebury School District, the District applied to the New Hope Borough for the issuance of permits,” Marcus began. “New Hope Borough charged the District some $270,000 (about 1% of the project cost) for licenses and inspections.”
“The revitalization project ran some 3½ years, and the District asked the Borough for an accounting of the costs associated with the licenses and inspections,” he continued. “A right-to-know request was filed asking for the total hours that New Hope inspectors were on-site at the project. The response from the New Hope Borough was that there was a total of 90 hours of inspection! Now there is no way that 90 hours of inspection time plus associated administrative costs can come anywhere close to $270,000. Simply stated, the New Hope Borough extorted $270,000 from the school district, spent a few bucks for inspections and added a bag of money to their general fund.”
Marcus believes that the fees are not only exorbitant, but also illegal.
“The law in Pennsylvania is clear: these permitting and inspection fees must be reasonable and commensurate with the cost of the services performed by the municipality,” he asserted. “They cannot be used as a revenue source. The effect of New Hope Borough’s hosing of the school district is to increase the taxes of New Hope and Solebury residents, since we all pay taxes to the school district.”
The borough responded to Marcus’ allegations in a statement.
“The Borough is working with the school district and the board toward a more collaborative relationship for the future,” the statement read. “We hope to meet with the school district early this year to discuss opportunities for collaborative efforts between the district and the borough.”
“We continue to discuss this issue with the borough, as the project has not completely been finalized,” commented New Hope-Solebury School District Superintendent Dr. Charles Lentz.
Meanwhile, Marcus remains outraged.
“I ask the community to join me in voicing a simple demand: Return the money!” he said.
BREAKING NEWS I just spoke to a friend of mine who attended the last New Hope Borough Council meeting who told me [ this will be second hand ,of course,] that the Borough Council raised the price for the “Pay to play to $5,000 each. That is Five Thou$and dollar$!!! what a great incentive for people to star a business here in New Hope. When the minutes of the meeting are posted the raise will be confirmed.
Tie this story in with the New Hope Free Press article about the “No Increase of Property Taxes in New Hope Budget for 2020.” They already got the windfall from the NH School District and Solebury residents.
If the allegations made by Stan Marcus are true, what actions going forward MUST the school district take to prevent itself from getting ripped off again?
Furthermore, If there are businesses in New Hope that feel what happened to the tax payers in the New Hope Solebury school District has happened to them within the statute of limitations, I would hope that they take the appropriate legal action action to recover the money which is legally theirs. And hopefully if they prevail in a court of law, that the judge or jury, if it gets to that point, tack on punitive damages.
Finally, can someone give me some legal feedback regarding the following practice in the New Hope Borough. When some people apply for permits to open a business, they are told that their business lacks the required number of parking spaces. However, the township will forgo that requirement if the prospective business owner pays “X” amount of dollars( I think it is $1,000) per space even though there are NO physical spaces given. In MY OPINION, is this not extortion? In extortion, it’s “your money or your life.” Here it’s your $1,000 a space or your life with your life being your business.
Boro Council seems to be collecting a lot of money that is disproportionate to the services they provide to its residents!
Given the (mob like) response of the Borough, file a RICO Act action against them. This was a calculated action against the taxpayers. They thought nobody would ever question it. This calls for a perp walk. Thank you Mr. Marcus.
Just another example of the incompetency of the New Hope Boro Council.The town is slowly destroying its core with ridiculous
zoning rules that hurt the small businesses that try to set up in New Hope.
If true, this sounds like potential criminal activity.
I attended both school board meetings AND borough council meetings; i asked both the board & council to explain the permit situation. Neither entity provided a satisfactory response. Both entities are irresponsible with public and taxpayer money. Thank you.