>Last week I posted an piece of audio that featured an exchange between resident Jim Grenafege and mayor Gerard Scharfenberger that took place during the special budget adoption meeting Monday night September 7th. It was a rather heated exchange, but was a small segment of the overall address to the Township Committee made by Mr. Grenafege.
>Opaqueness of Government Was Grenafege’s Point While Addressing Committee At Last Week’s Budget Adoption
Grenafege addressed the issue of transparency in government which he called the “Opaqueness” of Middletown’s governing body.
He brought up the issue of early retirements and their effect on this years budget, he pointed out that the Township passed an ordinance last year that encouraged employees to take advantage of early retirements as a cost savings to the Township. By passing this ordinance the Township should have been able to do better job at planning for the rash of retirements sparked by Gov. Christie’s threat to change the State’s retirement system.
Grenafege brought up the issues of Tax Appeals.
It was stated that the township had to assume the full cost of the many tax appeals that were successfully approved against the town. Scharfenberger lamented that a portion of those appeals should have had to been paid by the Board of Education seeing that 60% of the overall property tax burden is attributed to the school system and not the Township.
Grenafege correctly pointed out that the Township owes $80M worth of debt to the school board in the form of deferred taxes, which the Township collects and uses to offset the municipal tax rate, and if the Township did a better job at planning a portion of that debt could have been put aside for the purpose of tax appeals.
After addressing health care costs and questioning the per capita costs ratio of employees to residents and how the $680 figure is derived that Scharfenberger loves to quote when talks about how fiscally conservative Middletown has been through the years, he moved on to the Middletown Sewage Authority and “Concerts in the Park”.
The Township has often said that the concerts are fully funded by corporate sponsors with no taxpayer dollars supporting them. Grenafege pointed out that at least one of these concerts were sponsored by the Middletown Library System, which was therefore, in fact funded indirectly by Middletown taxpayers.
Listen to the audio, it was a fascinating exchange that I am sure will keep you listening until the end of the 12 minute give and take between Jim Grenafege and the those on the Township Committee. The exchange between them is exactly what open government is all about and what needs to happen more often at Township meetings