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.