Daily Archives: September 6, 2010

>Letter: Middletown Township Committee continues to routinely demonstrate great insensitivity to the present economic circumstances

>The following letter was writen and sent to me by Mr. Jeffrey Blumengold

As Labor Day approaches, I watch with some irony as the Middletown Township Committee continues to routinely demonstrate, both in words and in deed, great insensitivity to the present economic circumstances impacting our local citizens and community as a whole.

We all know friends and neighbors who are now unemployed or under-employed. Many of our residents are struggling at this time to maintain their standard of living. Yet, just when they least need it, the Township Committee, lacking any meaningful fiscal oversight or discipline, has delivered another financial burden to their doorstep — a large local property tax increase!
This is a special community, which is why I chose to move here with my family over twenty years ago. I had an opportunity over the last year to observe our Township Committee in action as it deliberated over turf fields and bonding issues. Although members of the Committee encouraged participation, sadly, after nearly a year of attending these meetings, I have come to conclude that the Committee itself is dysfunctional, at best.

Why? Several reasons: First, the necessary information that would allow a Committee Member to properly consider proposed resolutions is not disseminated evenly to all Committee members. As best I can tell, there is little, if any, communication across party lines. As a result, few matters are thoroughly discussed beforehand by the group as a whole. After attending many meetings, instead of collaboration, I observed rolling of eyes and disdain for fellow Committee members. Even though these individuals serve residents as Committtee members, they clearly remain political adversaries.

Second, unfortunately, due to the political breakdown of the current Committee, the majority rules. I have witnessed the exchanges, and I conclude that these meetings are often nothing more than a routine gang up by party members along party lines, rather than a transparent group of leaders, seeking to do what is right for those represented. At the last meeting, I was stunned by the lack of respect accorded to Committeeman Sean Byrnes, who as best as I can observe, continues to ask reasonable questions that are essentially ignored by the rest of the group. This open display of behavior, in public, is despicable.

From the vantage point of a concerned resident, the Committee has become a non-functional political machine, seeking to maintain the status quo, rather than taking on the tough job of careful collaboration, consideration and transparent debate on the serious issues facing our Township. We, as voters, elected these leaders to make the hard choices, so critically called for, especially in these unprecedented, difficult economic times.

I was disappointed to see that the latest focus of our Mayor is on re-writing State laws on how our schools are funded. While such discussions make for interesting debate, they are a needless distraction at a time when our residents need relief from onerous taxes. We need leadership, not a distracting debate over whether we should utilize property taxes, or sales and income taxes, to fund our schools. From my perspective, the current majority lacks the will to do what is necessary in these difficult times.

Jeffrey Blumengold
Lincroft, NJ

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Filed under economy, letter to the editor, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Republican Majority, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

>NJPP Monday Minute 9/6/10: Having your cake and financing it too State awards cake baker for Christie inauguration a BEIP grant

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Earlier this year, Gov. Christie suspended New Jersey’s film tax credit for the fiscal year 2011 – a reasonable move given the staggering budget situation that the state faced. The movie and TV industries protested. Actors, producers, lobbyists and small business owners testified against eliminating the credit.1 When lawmakers passed a budget without the credit, NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit moved its production back to New York.2

But the governor’s elimination of the film tax credit did not stop the state from favoring another television production with a $45,000 grant from New Jersey’s flagship business subsidy, the Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP). The recipient of the state’s largesse: Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, the subject of TLC’s reality show “Cake Boss, ” and the bakery that supplied the cake for Governor Christie’s January inauguration. The Star-Ledger reported that the inauguration cake was donated and would retail for about $15,000. The cake was a twin-bed sized diorama of New Jersey sights including an edible version of the Goldman Sachs tower in Jersey City – ironic since the real version of this tower has benefitted from multiple BEIP grants.

In April, in a decision that received no press coverage, the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved the BEIP grant to Carlo’s Bakery Inc., the owners of which operate Carlo’s City Hall Bakery. The Cake Boss wanted the state’s help in opening an additional cake and dessert manufacturing facility to accommodate increasing customer and restaurant demand. It plans to hire 30 new workers who would be paid an average annual salary of $35,000.

When the application was approved, no location had been selected. The bakery owners said the new facility does not need to be near its original Hoboken bakery. If the Cake Boss were to locate his additional facility in one of the state’s municipalities where economic development is most encouraged, such as Jersey City, Newark, Paterson or New Brunswick, the grant could increase from the estimated $45,000 to $144,000.

The funding for the BEIP subsidy comes from the state income taxes paid by the new employees. Instead of the state using these tax collections entirely for property tax relief as the income tax was intended to be used, the state returns a portion to the employer. That amount is based on a number of factors, including location, and can be as much as 80 percent of income tax withheld. Since its inception in 1996, the BEIP subsidy has paid out $856.4 million in grants to businesses, according to the EDA.

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  1. Siriwardane, Venuri. “TV industry joins fight to keep N.J. tax credit.” Star-Ledger. June 15, 2010. www.nj.com.
  2. Arrue, Karina. “Jersey loses when Law&Order: SVU leaves North Bergen, Hudson pols blame Gov. Christie’s suspension of $10 million film tax credit.” July 30, 2010. www.nj.com

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Filed under BEIP Grant, Cake Boss, Carlo's City Bake Shop, Gov. Chris Christie, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NJ.com, tax credits

>Tuesday’s Budget Approval Meeting In Middletown Designed To Limit Debate and Questions From The Public

>This coming Tuesday night Sept. 7th at 6pm, Middletown will finally adopt it’s 2010 Municipal budget. The budget will be 9 months late contain an 11.79 % tax increase to the municipal tax rate.

The regularly schedule meeting of Middletown Township Committee, which is open to the public, will not start until 8pm. This meeting will be preceded by an Executive session meeting at 7pm, which means that if the residents or members of the public wish to attend both the budget meeting and the regular meeting they will have to hang out for at least an hour in between, from 7-8pm, until the Executive session meeting is concluded.

This type of scheduling puts an undue burden on the members of the public that would like to attend both meetings.

The early meeting time to adopt the budget was requested at last Monday’s special meeting that was held during a power outage that left many residents stuck on the road unable to navigate the streets or stuck in their homes waiting for some kind of relief, by our ‘very open’ mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger.

If possible, I would encourage interested residents to try and make both public meetings, but if they can’t, they should at the very least express their dissatisfaction with Scharfenberger and in the scheduling time of these meetings by calling Town Hall @ 732-615-2015.

As I see it, there is no reason that the budget adoption meeting could not be held at the same time as the regular meeting. The Budget Adoption Resolution is only one resolution that needs to be voted on. The public can speak on it before it is voted on like other resolutions or ordinances that are offered up for comments before approval or adoption.

As it stands now, there is no discussion planned to review the changes that this amendment will make, nor are there any discussion planned as to what took place in Trenton on August 26th, that allowed Middletown to exceed a State budget cap of 4%.

There will be no discussion on anything unless the public comes forward and demands it.

You can read the Agenda for Tuesday’s Budget Adoption/Workshop Meeting >>> Here

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Filed under 4% budget cap, budget meeting, budget resolution, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, resolutions and ordinances