Daily Archives: February 17, 2011

>RedBankGreen.com: M’TOWN LIBRARY DEBATE GETS PERSONAL

>Dustin Racioppi of RedBankGreen.com posted his take on last night’s Library Board of Trustees meeting in Middletown just a few ago.

In my opinion Racioppi’s take on the meeting was closer to what actually transpired than what Kevin Penton wrote for the Asbury Park Press. Racioppi did a decent job of telling how contentious portions of the meet was last night, but unless you where actually there, you have no idea how heavy the atmosphere and mood actually was.

Committeeman Kevin Settembrino seemed like he was a henchman or stooge form the mafia’s godfather last night. He was very demanding and lack civility on many occasions that I witnessed.

I left last nights meeting with the impression that the Library would only turn over to the Township the funds that they legally have to under state statue, which in an of itself was an issue that was haggled over and would amount to about $200K based on the Boards interpretation of the law, a far cry from the almost $900K that the Township committee is looking for.

Here is some of what Dustin Racioppi had to say about last nights meeting:

…Indeed, this was not going to be swift or pretty, as the library faced implications it had never seen before: the threat of being transferred to the Monmouth County library system and indirect blame for township employees being laid off.

At the end of the long night, though, the board compromised, agreeing to have the attorneys and administrators from both bodies meet within the next two weeks to try and agree upon an “amicable” figure the library would take from its surplus and transfer to the general budget. That number will be voted on at a meeting in March.

It took a marathon of debate to get to that point, though.

Residents filled the library’s meeting room to probe officials, tell their stories about the library and, at times, take jabs at elected officials. At one point, a line seven deep formed behind the microphone.

Resident Mike Burns took aim at Committeeman Kevin Settembrino, who also serves on the library board and favors the raid on the surplus. It was, perhaps, an initiation to Middletown politics for Settembrino, who took office in January and, as Burns pointed out, doesn’t hold a library card.

“Mr. Settembrino, when was the last time you checked out a book? When was the last time you checked out a CD? When was the last time you checked out a DVD?” he asked. “I think it’s interesting that you’re on the library board. Can you tell me what the difference is between you serving on the library board and Osama bin Laden serving on the Department of Homeland Security?”

While harsh comments peppered the meeting, there was also constructive criticism for township officials to consider in the formation of Middletown’s budget.

The town, facing declining revenues and a staggering amount of tax appeal refunds, came to the library board last month for help, asking for $898,000 to cover the library’s debt service on a bond for the library’s renovation and a decrease in its property value.

Linda Baum suggested that rather than dip into the library surplus, the committee should consider other cost-reduction options, like outsourcing leaf and brush collection.

“There’s your million dollars right there,” she said. “We obviously need to do some creative thinking.”

Before the meeting got started, and shortly after, the tension among the board and committee members reached a fever pitch as a result of the committee’s threat that if the board didn’t help with the town budget, the committee would explore the option of transferring the library to the county system. The committee also filed a layoff plan with the state calling for the elimination of 26 jobs, including those of 10 police officers, adding to the pressure put on the library board….

You can read his full take on last nights meeting >>> Here

And again I need to state, even if the Library hands over a portion of its surplus funds, it will have no effect on the previously announced layoffs of 26 township employees. Those jobs are considered lost already by the Township Committee we learned last night. Any funds that the Township receives from the Library could only possibly prevent more employees loosing their jobs.

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Filed under budget cuts, budget deficit, budget surplus, Dustin Racioppi, Kevin Settembrino, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, RedBankGreen.com

>APP: Middletown requests library hand over surplus of over $542G

>Real quickly, here is the take of Asbury Park Press Reporter Kevin Penton, who was at last night’s Middletown Library Board of Trustees meeting. As I said in my post last night after the meeting, it was a long meeting and frustrating at times to sit through listening to the double-talk coming from members of the Township Committee. Even though Penton kept his take on last nights meeting brief and didn’t quite capture the total essence of what transpired, I think he did a nice job with this, and I’ll have more to say later!

MIDDLETOWN — It is not a demand, but a simple request — the library should give the township at least $542,767, municipal officials said Wednesday.

But should the township public library’s board of trustees not agree to the request, there could be consequences.

The Township Committee has the ability to request, by adopting a resolution, that the municipality’s library join the Monmouth County Library System, Mayor Anthony Fiore said.

“Such a move would be an absolute last resort,” said Fiore in a letter to residents on Wednesday. “Without the transfer of some of the library surplus, it may become a fiscal necessity. Not an option, a necessity.”

Shifting the library to the county’s stewardship would reduce the township’s costs by at least $1 million, Fiore said Wednesday outside of the board of trustees’ meeting, which about 100 residents attended.

After more than three hours of debate, the board voted unanimously to ask the attorneys and administrators of the township and the library to meet before the end of the month to agree on a figure. The board would then decide whether to accept it.

Most of the residents who commented during the meeting said the library should not hand the money to the township.

Township officials have said they need the money to avoid laying off more than the 26 positions that are already part of a plan it submitted to the state Civil Service Commission on Friday. Included in the layoff plan are 10 township police department and 13 parks and recreation department positions.

Resident Melanie Elminger compared the situation to the story of the grasshopper and the ant. The ants worked hard all summer to save their food while the grasshopper relaxed and sang. Come winter, the grasshopper wanted the ants’ food, even though it had done nothing to save it, she said.

“Mr. Settembrino, don’t be a Grinch and steal our library,” Elminger said, referring to Kevin Settembrino, a township committeeman who sits on the board of trustees and initiated the request last month.

Fred Deickmann, president of the Middletown Superior Officers Association, encouraged the board to contribute the money.

“Everyone needs to work together on this,” said Deickmann, who pledged to work with his union members to come up with additional concessions. “I implore the board to assist.”

“We’re not here to extort your money,” Fiore told the board. “I’m here to plead for cooperation.”

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Filed under 2% cap, Asbury Park Press, Board of Trustees, budget deficit, budget surplus, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, Tony Fiore

>Emotions Run High At Library Board Meeting

>I just walked throughout the door after attending tonight’s Middletown Library Board of Trustees meeting, at this point in time 10:47pm, the meeting is still ongoing. I couldn’t stand the BS any longer and I had to leave.

The final nail which was hammered into my head, that made me leave the proceedings was the exchange that was taking place between Board of Trustee members and Mayor Tony Fiore. In a moment of frustration at being questioned about the legality of whether or not theTownship could request funds from the Library and exactly how much money was available for the taking, Fiore said to library Director Susan O’Neal, “With all due respect, you don’t know what we know!”

That statement blew my mind, I had to leave, I could take the BS any longer.

One fact that everyone should know about tonight’s meeting, regardless of whether or not the Library board gives funds to the Township it WILL NOT effect the need to layoff of members of the Middletown Police Department or the other 16 people that have been targeted to loose their jobs. As a matter of fact, if funds do not come from the Library to help plug Middletown’s budget defect MORE people will need to be laid off, not just the previously announced 26 individual.

And even though the Township is not looking to turn over the Middletown library system over to the County, the Township Committee has already looked into the possibility of it and would be willing to do it if nessassary, as per Mayor Tony Fiore.
Reporters from the APP, Independent and RedbankGreen.com were their tonight covering the event. Kevin Penton of the APP said that the will be posting a story before the end of the night.
I’ll post more about this later also, but for know I need to go to bed, my head hurts!

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Filed under 2% cap, Board of Trustees, budget deficit, budget sacrifices, budget surplus, Middletown Library, Tony Fiore