Not many surprises happened yesterday at Re-Organization day in Middletown other than re-appointed mayor Gerry Scharfenberger admitted during his address
that the Township was facing “… a budget shortfall of several million dollars in the coming year.”
This statement is really quite out of character for our mayor because for the past couple of months Committeeman Sean Byrnes and former Committeeman Patrick Short have been warning everyone about this on coming problem,while Scharfenberger and his fellow GOPer’s have accused the Democrats of playing “Chicken Little” .
Last months workshop meeting received a lot of headlines in local papers because Byrnes and Short would not vote for borrowing money from 2010 ‘s budget for an emergency appropriation to pay for medical claims in 2009 without first seeing a plan on how the township planned on closing, in Byrnes’s estimation, a $5 million budget shortfall 2010. Byrnes stated during the workshop meeting that layoffs throughout all departments would be necessary without some type spending plan for the coming new year.
They ultimately voted to approve $800,000 of the emergency appropriation to pay the medical claims and deferred the remainder to discuss at the next meeting with the stipulation that the township needed to come up with some sort of spending plan before than.
At the December 21st Township Committee meeting Byrnes and Short once again refused
to borrow money from 2010 to pay for the outstanding claims
because nothing was presented during the two week period since the previous meeting to show them that the township was taking seriously the looming budget crisis.
Now upon his re-appointment as mayor he admits that there is a looming crisis and wants to assure everyone that he will do everything in his power to make the best of it by “…a continued freeze on all township salaries, the potential sale of unneeded township assets, increased worker contributions to health benefits, new interlocal agreements and the sale of the township swim club.”
Last week Sean Byrnes issued a press release
to highlight some additional proposals that he believes would save the township money for 2010 and years to come. They are practical and make sense. Maybe the Committee can use these proposals as a starting point when they begin to formulate the 2010 budget and not let partisan politics get in the way of doing what’s right for the residents of Middletown.
Filed under Asbury Park Press, Budget Battle, budget cuts, Budget Shortfall, Democrat, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Republicans, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase, the Independent