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Mayor puts Plan B put on back burner

Jack Ball opts to delay his plan to receive government aid by suing the State of New Jersey until after
Election Day

By Tony Wilson

October 29, 2007

Mayor Jack Ball has placed his "Plan B" on the back-burner until after the Nov. 6 election.

That plan — involving the filing of a lawsuit to force the state to pay the
financially-troubled township its "fair share" of aid in lieu of property taxes Local News
— was to have been implemented by the mayor in late October.
District fields bids to
build new athletic facility
However, Ball said he learned that the state had agreed to pay the township
"some money" to help reduce an unprecedented 43-cent increase in Ewing's Schools claim $900,000
municipal purposes rate. The problem is that the mayor doesn't know how surplus
much money will be forthcoming. Community center name
still undecided a year
"Since we now know some money is on the way, I certainly don't want to later
jeopardize that," Ball said. With zoning changes
made, Opus project can
The mayor said he has been discussing the problem with 15th-district Sen. move forward
Shirley Turner (D), whose district includes Ewing, and — although a pre-
election determination on implementing Plan B was not eliminated — it was
decided to put the lawsuit possibility off until after the election, in which all
state legislative seats are on the line.
letter to the editor about
Ball said it was also decided that after the election he and Turner would try this article
to arrange a sit-down with Gov. Jon Corzine to go over Ewing's bleak
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financial situation.

"Otherwise, we'll be back in the same predicament every year and I don't
want to see that happen," he said.

The mayor said the township is seeking more state aid in lieu of
property taxes on calculations that nearly 29 percent of Ewing's 15-
and-a-half square miles represents land owed by either the state of
New Jersey or Mercer County.

While the state Department of Community Affairs previously indicated

that the Ball administration had moved too late to qualify for even half
of its $8 million total shortfall, the mayor had continued to voice hope
of receiving some assistance to reduce the overall burden on local
The mayor alluded to the lawsuit threat in his recent state of the
township address that drew this comparison with the state's treatment of other towns:

"It is rather interesting to note that other municipalities have been awarded a share of the $153 million
in special municipal aid monies without even having to submit their budgets or financial information," he
said. "I can only say that I have been patient and have been affording the state ample time to step up
to the plate and offer Ewing the same consideration it has shown to other municipalities with financial
situations similar to ours."

Several Democratic council members have criticized the Republican mayor for weeks for waiting too long
to request inclusion in a state DCA special assistance program. The Democrats say Ball, who vowed as a
mayoral candidate last year to get out from under what he viewed as a demeaning, state-controlled
assistance program, erred by not re-applying for that same aid soon enough this year.

The Democrats have also criticized Ball for not publicly disclosing details of his Plan B. The mayor said
he would reveal such details to them prior to implementation, which he concedes now means the filing
of a lawsuit.

A 43-cent tax increase would mean a tax hike of $533 on a house assessed at the town average of
$123,000 – an increase that Ball and all five council members have called unacceptable.

And, if the state doesn't come through with sufficient money, the mayor and council members say they
would resort to cutting the $45.6 million municipal budget.