Fact Checking the Evesham Election

Let’s take a minute to fact-check our opponents’ claims.

To read more about our time in office, go to “Our Vision, Our Record

Opponents’ Claim #1: “Spending is up”

Our town is required, by law, to have a balanced budget every year. And we’ve done that. Spending is up, but so is revenue thanks to property values increasing, more grant funds, and other alternative revenue sources. We’ve kept the budget balanced without raising your municipal property taxes once in the past four years.

Our opponents also claim that Evesham received $4 million in federal aid for “economic stagnation.” That funding, made available through the American Rescue Plan, provided relief following the shock of the COVID-19 economic recession. We used that funding to keep our police officers, who served our town valiantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, employed without dipping into the surplus, cutting police officers, or raising taxes. We also used a small portion – $25,000 – for the Marlton Bucks program, which matched $25,000 in customer funds – for use at Evesham businesses.

Our opponents claim that “Our current financial situation is untenable,” but that is far from the truth. We are well positioned for the future since we have cut waste, improved management, and found other savings and alternative revenue sources. We have cleaned up municipal debt, used less of the surplus than any previous administration, maintained a solid surplus and credit rating, and done all of that without cutting services or raising taxes.

Find out more about how we saved taxpayer dollars and managed the township.

Opponents’ Claim #2: “The surplus is down”

The surplus is the balance left over after each budget year concludes. Most years, due to conservative government accounting standards, our town receives a bit more in revenue than anticipated, resulting in a surplus. The opposite could occur if the town spent more than it received in revenue. Via this annual cycle, part of the surplus is spent to pay for services and operations, then replenished, spent, replenished, and so on. A surplus, or emergency reserve, is important for a town’s credit rating, too – According to credit rating agencies like Moody’s, having a reserve of at least 15% of the budget is the preferred baseline. Our opponent’s claim in social media posts that the reserve should be two months’ worth of funding, leaving our two sides disagreeing on a $300,000 difference. Regardless, from 2019-2022, our surplus averaged 20% of the budget, a 1% difference from the preceding administration’s last four years in office, and never dipped below 15%.

Despite our opponents’ claims, we have maintained a healthy surplus despite the pandemic and economic recession, throttling the replenishment of the surplus in 2020 and 2021. And we have spent less of the surplus to pay for government operations per year than our predecessors ever did1.

And keeping too much surplus means we are taking in or holding onto way more revenue than anticipated, which means more money out of your wallets. The prior administration kept raising taxes and kept the surplus inflated at unnecessarily high levels – nearly double what is needed – denying taxpayers millions of dollars over the years. Figuring out the annual budget and surplus is a balancing act, and we have maintained a healthy surplus while not raising taxes or cutting services and without threatening our credit rating.

Finally, our opponents’ are claiming that we should have spent more surplus during the COVID-19 pandemic and then slam us for allegedly spending too much. We would love to know our opponent’s magic formula for when it’s appropriate to spend the surplus. In the meantime, we have relied on expert professional guidance to maintain a balanced budget, increase revenue without raising taxes, and utilize and replenish the surplus responsibly.

Find out more about of record of financial stability and surplus.

Opponents’ Claim #3: Empty storefronts are a problem

Commercial vacancies only hurt taxpayers if landlords appeal their taxes because of high vacancies. Our commercial property values have increased by $3.5 million since 2019, when we took office – and tax appeals are way down compared to the last four years under the previous administration. Our opponents are raising a false flag based on misinformation.

Despite the pandemic-related recession, small and national companies, like Nike, Panda Express, Chicken or the Egg, SweetGreen, Poke Bros., JCrew Outlet, Singa’s Pizza, Cinnaholic, Raising Cane’s, Prince Tea House, and Nothing Bundt Cake, are clamoring to come to Evesham and in the process of opening to build or fill storefronts.

On top of that, our opponents say it’s a problem but offer no real solution for solving their self-proclaimed issue beyond the activities we have already undertaken. We established the Economic Advisory Council to communicate with businesses, provide networking opportunities, and connect businesses with resources. We established multiple programs, like Marlton Bucks and Marlton Mondays to promote and drive customers to local businesses. We have also proactively reached out to our business community to help them gain recognition and highlight their services to the community with over 60 ribbon cuttings, anniversaries, and other events. We also had Evesham join the Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce and engaged with the Southern New Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce to bring more resources and information to our business community. We have worked with developers and businesses to plan out the future of Main Street and other major developments; in 2021, released our Downtown Vision Plan; and we just completed the reexamination of the Township’s 10-year Master Plan.

Find out more about our support of and work with the business community.

Opponents’ Claim #4: We aren’t planning for the future

Before we came into office, our town had no long-term plans or vision except for Main Street. Under our leadership, we have planned or are planning out the long-term future of our roads, facilities, parks and recreation areas, finances, and development. We have worked with developers and businesses to plan out the future of Main Street and other major developments to not only keep them prosperous but to match the needs of our residents, housing demand, traffic and roads, veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities. We released our Downtown Vision Plan in 2021; just completed the Township’s 10-year Master Plan review; and are currently updating the Recreation and Open Space Inventory, both of which will serve as guides for a significant part of our town’s future planning and financing.

Find out more about our leadership style and how we’ve managed our town.

Opponents’ Claim #5: Our roads and facilities are “crumbling”

When we came into office, there was no road improvement plan. We ordered a study of all municipal roads and came up with a 10-year road improvement plan that will address road improvement based on need, not political priorities and personal whims.

We have invested over a million dollars more per year in our capital improvement program and $888,000 more per year* in the road improvement program than the previous administration ever did. We obtained the largest grant in the state to improve or install sidewalks along North Maple Avenue. We were awarded grant funding to improve Crown Royal Parkway and Lincoln Drive. Repairs on roads like Country Farms, Hopewell Road, and others have begun. The Gibson House has received significant improvements and is a thriving space for weddings, parties, and other events. We are improving the floors, HVAC, and other parts of the Blue Barn, HVAC at the Municipal Building, and other improvements that went long-neglected.

* Excluding 2020 due to financial uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic

Find out more about our investment in our roads and infrastructure and parks and recreation.

Opponents’ Claim #6: Memorial playground has “trip hazards”

Our playgrounds and facilities are heavily used and are safe. When a safety issue is either found or reported to the Township, it is fixed. Sadly, instead of reporting the problem and protecting our community’s children, our opponents traded our children’s safety for political gain.

We have been gaining ground on needed repairs of our parks and recreational facilities after years of neglect: We ordered a review of our facilities, implemented a plan to repair and replace our playgrounds and equipment, and have and will continue to improve our parks and other recreation areas in line with a long-term funding plan and with more grant funding. We are updating the Recreation and Open Space Inventory and commissioned a Park Inventory and Assessment Report that planned out upgrades to all of our parks within the next 10 years. The report not only won an award for municipal project management but opened the Township to more grant funding opportunities

Find out more about how we’ve invested in and improved our parks and playgrounds.

Opponents’ Claim #7: Multiple lawsuits

Since our record is hard to criticize, our opponents have resorted to misleading or out-of-context claims about us having multiple lawsuits on our records. The lawsuits are not a result of our time in office or our leadership. Many of these go back over 20 years ago and are not relevant nor reflective of who we are or how we lead today. Most of the suits are related to an unhealthy marriage one of us went through with an emotionally and physically abusive husband who was financially exploitative and the divorce that followed. Others stemmed from financially supporting a brother, who struggled with, and eventually passed away from, addiction. This is a terrible experience that far too many families go through.

We all hope that nobody has to go through struggles, challenges, and heartache, but we also are aware that many people are just like us and go through similar experiences privately. Like many people, we have overcome these hurdles and challenges through years of hard work and discipline, and, as with most people, these hardships were resolved. We have used these personal experiences to become more caring and compassionate individuals and leaders. None of us came up in a position of privilege, and we continue to grow and learn. And, despite these out-of-date and dubious attacks, we have and will not stoop as low as our opponents have.

Find out more about Mayor Jaclyn Veasy, Deputy Mayor Heather Cooper, and Councilwoman Patricia Hansen.

Opponents’ Claim #8: The Township laid off a “historic” number of workers

This is a blatantly false claim by our opponents on their social media accounts. They are using a 2020 headline from an article discussing how the Township was trying to navigate through the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting drop in revenues for the Township. The Township did temporarily lay off a few Township workers, with the knowledge that they would receive boosted unemployment compensation from the State and Federal government. Clerical and administrative staff came to the negotiating table, and we successfully negotiated furloughs instead of layoffs. Overall, only a few employees were temporarily laid off, and all but two, who chose not to return, were hired back.

Our opponents also use this line of attack to misquote us to sound like we don’t believe a surplus is necessary – see Opponents’ Claim #2 to check that allegation.

Our opponents also claim they will focus on “Public Safety” and “Fiscal Responsibility.” We’re already doing that, and better than any previous administration has. Crime is down 28% since 20182, our police department is fully-funded, our schools have full School Resource Officer coverage, and we’ve managed through a pandemic, economic recession, and other challenges without cutting services and while holding the line on taxes. Our record speaks for itself.

Admittedly, some of this stuff gets a bit in the weeds and can be challenging to understand if you’re not well-versed in the law, economics, government accounting, or public administration. Our opponents take advantage of that to mislead you. If you have questions, you can reach out to our team any time at contact@vch4evesham.com.

1 Analysis of surplus usage from Evesham Township Annual Budgets, 2010-2022

2 According to New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Reports