On Sunday, Senator Steve Sweeney commented in the Gloucester County Times about his displeasure with the Republican Majority of West Deptord’s governing body. He claims we are also claimed that the Republican Majority of West Deptford’s governing body care more about Sunoco instead of worrying about the taxpayers of our town. These comments have compelled us to respond to his baseless claims with this letter to the editor.
First, it was not the Republican Majority that asked for this problem to be dropped on our laps on day one of our new administration and with a firm February 14 court date with both Sunoco and El Paso. We were forced to act and act quickly in order to ensure the interests of all West Deptford Taxpayers were met. We negotiated in good faith with both companies and came to the current settlement agreement through hard work on the part of the New Administration recognizing that taking this appeal to court would be devastating to West Deptford Township. You can access the settlement power point here, but in essence the settlement equals a $13.9 million dollar return to Sunoco and $18.5 million dollar settlement with El Paso. That is opposed to $47.5 million dollars for Sunoco and $42.5 million dollars with El Paso in the worst case scenario if we go to trial.
Wasn’t it Senator Sweeney who introduced legislation to address remediation concerns at the Eagle Point Refinery ? Now that those concerns were addressed by Sunoco, he has now moved on to attacking this settlement by saying it was rushed. Sen. Sweeney seems to be grasping at whatever he can to make this settlement politcal in order to score cheap points with the very taxpayers, who he claims to be protecting and who he says we are ignoring. That also lays claim to what has happened with Sen. Sweeney’s legislation. It hasn’t moved to the floor of the Senate since it cleared the Senate Environmental Committee. Could it be that the Senate President doesn’t have the votes to pass this legislation, or did he just introduce this redundant piece of legislation to scare all parties involved while having no intention of passing it into law?
In closing, we challenge Senator Sweeney to stop hiding behind his baseless press releases and statements to the press and actually attend a Township Committee Meeting for once and get engaged in the process of this tax appeal, just like the countless other West Deptford residents who attend our meetings. No resident needs an invitation to be active in their community, because it is their civic duty as an American. Why should the Senator be any different? Senator Sweeney, come out from behind you backroom deals with the Gloucester County Times, so they write your baseless claims in their paper. Talk to the residents of West Deptford. Ask them in person how they feel about this settlement and how long it has taken to get this issue resolved. The time for political grand standing is over. It has been going on for 24 years and we are proud to be providing the leadership needed to move our town forward with the best deal possible for the taxpayers who elected us to be a fiduciary and responsive township government.
Sincerely Ray Chintall, Mayor Sam Cianfarini, Committeeman