For the past few years Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes has been advocating for a “Finance Committee” to be form in Middletown so that the Township can get a better grasp on it’s finances and not have to wait several months into the calendar year before adopting a budget.
Byrnes has argued that the way the budget process is now handled is inefficient and antiquated and needs to be restructured in such a way that would provide better over site of spending and identify in advance any trends that may prove problematic during the year.
Each time Byrnes has suggested the idea of a finance committee he has be rebuffed by the Republicans that have controlled the township committee for the greater part of the last quarter century.
Their reasoning behind opposing such a committee is weak at best. I have heard everything from the cost of setting up new committee (which would be negligible being it would be staffed with members of the Township Committee, the Town Administrator and volunteers) to the reasoning that Township Committee members act as their own finance committee to oversee and question spending (even though none are qualified to due so).
Sean Byrnes has counter argued that other towns, major corporations and most charities group and non-profit organization have them. It is simply a good business practice.
Recently Jack Archibald, a councilman in Atlantic Highlands and a contributing columnist for the Atlantic Highlands Herald, wrote a column
explaining how the budget process works in Atlantic Highlands. Can you guess what is mentioned in that column? That’s right a Finance Committee
Archibald pretty much lays out the blueprint for Middletown on how to structure and use a Finance Committee:
“…our municipal budget began to take shape in December. At that time, our administrator, Adam Hubeny, and Chief Financial Officer Gerry Gagliano, hold kick-off meetings with various department heads and discuss their needs for the coming year. Once that is compiled, a rough draft of a budget is presented to the finance committee. In general, the finance committee is comprised of three council members who report back to either the Borough Council or Township Committee as a whole.
In a few towns, the governing body has formed a citizens committee to review and make suggestions to the budget. While this public input is welcome, municipal accounting is a very specialized practice, and crafting a municipal budget is subject to many state regulations and caps that do not seem to make much sense to the average citizen….”
It makes perfect sense, the administrator, the CFO, 3 Committee members and maybe some input from qualified residents get together make recommendations and then draft preliminary budget document to be submitted to the Mayor and other members of the township committee to consider.
The only reason I can think of for not forming a Finance Committee is that the majority in charge doesn’t want others to see where and how the Middletown taxpayers money is being spent on needless pet projects or salaries and benefits for loyal GOPers who make a living from the town in one way or another.