I wasn’t able to attend last night’s Middletown Township Committee meeting due to a death in the family. I knew that it was going to be contentious and a spectacle to observe, and according to an article posted on the RedBankGreen.com by Dustin Racioppi it seems to have been just that, below is a small snippet of what he wrote:
“…A pending review of the 2010 spending plan at the state level pushed back the adoption date to mid-August. Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger said the Local Finance Board, which reviews municipal budgets for compliance with state laws and regulations, is backlogged, and Middletown is set to have its done by August 11.
Meantime, the township committee held a public hearing on the $65 million proposal, which would increase average tax bills by $211 annually.
As usual of late, the governing body took a beating from the public.
“Everything we buy goes up, but everything coming in goes down,” resident Angela Bennik said. “At the end of the day, when our tax bill comes in, it’s up.”
Bennik later said she’s disappointed with how the town has been run, without a budget in place for most of the year and, in tough economic times, an increase to boot.
“The town should be run like a family,” she said. “I go out to get groceries. If I can’t afford it, tough, you can’t eat. You can’t spend what you don’t have.”
There’s also a sense of frustration that the municipal portion of tax bills skyrocketed over last year, up 13 percent.
“I have wants and I have needs. I can’t have all my wants,” Sandra Craig Barry said. “You are asking us to sign off on a 13-percent increase. We just can’t do it anymore.”
“Not really,” Scharfenberger interjected. “It’s going to be cut down from there.”
Scharfenberger says pending measures, like spreading out retirement pension and benefits payouts, will drastically alter the spending plan when it comes back for adoption next month…”
It seems like they had themselves one hell’va, rip roaring , good time last night! But after reading Racioppi’s column I am left with a few questions for our acting mayor Gerry Scharfenberger.
First of all, Scharfenberger is quoted as saying that the tax increase will not be 13% or above because it will be cut down from there… really, by who? Is Scharfenberger and the rest of his GOP majority buddies waiting for the Local Finance Board to make cuts to the proposed increase for them, therefore skirting their own responsibilities over the budget? It would seem that way.
If that is not the case and Gerry and his friends are trying to spread out pension payments and other cost to limit the 13% tax increase then why wasn’t this plan presented last night with the corresponding savings to the tax rate? They have had nearly a full month since the budget was first introduce to the public on June 23rd, why wasn’t anything new presented last night?
Lastly, according to Scharfenberger, the online suggestion box at the Township’s website is not bearing the fruit that they had hoped it would, so it seems the majority that controls the Township Committee, is out of ideas of their own on how cut costs.
A quote from the article has our mayor stating,
“I would prefer people say what they could do without, we have to hear that. We can’t just surmise it, and then there’s a lot of people on the other side.”
This quote is a classic example of a “cop out” if I ever saw or heard one. As our mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger needs to have a backbone and lead… or step down. Make the tough choices you were elected to make and stop looking to others in order to make yourself and others look good. It is a sign of weakness and unbecoming of an elected official.
You can read Dustin Racioppi’s full article >>>Here