Last night Middletown re-introduced the FY 2009 budget and to summed up in very plain and simple language, it is a MESS !!
The budget has been put together by the use of smoke and mirrors – no cost reductions or spending cuts of any kind to speak of.
Here is a quick synopsis of last nights meeting, I’ll have more to say and discuss over the next few days once i have sufficient time to review my audio recordings of the meeting:
Contrary to previous reports Bob Roth really did not find any hidden monies, when he presented the budget to the local finance board in Trenton, the state told Middletown that they could reduce the amount of reserve for unpaid taxes to the state mandated minimum which saved the township $1.2M.
Next week there will be another ordinance to be voted on by the township committee that will take another reserve fund, that has been laying around since 2006, and put it into the budget for another $399k 1 shot revenue gimmick .
The “tireless ” hunting for savings that the Majority search for resulted in a few minor reductions and few increases in line items throughout.
I have to hand it to Bob Roth, after over 20 years of being CFO, he really knows his stuff. the man had explanations for everything that was brought up, but overall there were no real cost savings in this budget, just the 1 shot use of surpluses that were moved into the budget.
Now that Middletown has used these 1 shot gimmicks, there will be no substantial reserves to work with next year. It will be interesting to see how that will work.
The bottom line is this, even after the use of the surpluses it did not save the township from a significant tax increase of 5.8%. And by deferring payment of half of Middletown’s pension obligations of $600K, which was a requirement by the state to qualify for the cap wavier, it will cost Middletown an additional 4% interest over the next 12 years on that deferral.
Where is the saving there? If Middletown did a better job at managing it’s finances and did not need to seek a cap waiver, Middletown would not have to defer payments it’s pension obligations.
This is just another case of mismanagement of the towns finances by the majority of the Committee and really gives credence to Sean Byrnes request to establish and head a Finance committee.
Tony Fiore came out to say that real cuts to the budget would have meant reducing police staff and other essential services that he would have been unwilling to make, which is utter nonsense! There are other areas in which to cut like travel, magazines,office supplies, utility costs at the Arts Center, Parks and Rec, Middletown Matters, the possibilities are endless if he and the majority were willing end the cronyism and patronage that they practice.
What this budget shows me is a total lack of leadership by the Republican majority who were and are, unwilling to make hard and necessary choices.
What this budget really does is it pushes harder decisions off until next year, it creates a huge hole in next years budget due to the fact that there is no surpluses left to raid.
How much will it cost us then ?