>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.”


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

44 responses to “>APP: Middletown requests library hand over surplus of over $542G

  1. >Penton did a decent job, he balanced both sides well.Thousands of citizens, most of them Library supporters, received the email sent by the Library Board Treasurer that contained a whole series of falsehoods and outright lies intended to whip up support for the board. About 70 people showed up to the meeting, including the five or so people who regularly show up at Town Committee meetings to beat their dead horses (which they did again last night).My guess will be that even fewer will turn up at the next TC meeting on Tuesday – we'll see.But the truth is that almost all of the speakers were misled by the lies from the Library Board, believing that there was some plot to close the facilities, or to reduce the operating budget of the Library to the point where it could no longer function. Even the very few residents in town who cared enough to show up were there because they were lied to.One of them had it right though. He said "We appoint the township committee…" That is quite correct. The results of the last election clearly show that the residents of the town want the Committee just the way it is.The "crowd" out to "support" the lies from the Library show just how few people in town disagree with the idea that the Library hand over its taxpayer funded surplus.If I were the TC, the vote to join the County Library system would be on the table for the next meeting. The Library Board is arrogant, believing that they can lie their way into keeping what isn't theirs. The town will be better off when we're done with them.

  2. >Anon 7:49,I was at last nights meeting and I have to disagree with you!First off, when I arrived it was close to standing room only. There were well over 150 people.Secondly, from what I heard the Treasurer's account of things wasn't that far off from what I heard last night. Her only mistake was that she said the Township wanted $2.3M from the library when in fact it was $1.2M, dropped down to $900K then down again to $542K.And even though members of the TC attempted to backtrack on their extortion of the library, they still made it clear that they would replace board trustees and hand over the library to the county if they didn't get what they wanted.I do not believe speakers last night were mislead in anyway. The message was consistant from the Board of Trustees, they could not give up $1.2M worth of surplus funds and have a functioning library system.And to say that members of the TC did not mislead people themselve in all this is also wrong as it came out last night. Mayor Fiore in his press release made it seem that if the Library handed over funds to the TC that layoffs would be adverted, when in fact that is not the case. even if the library handed over funds 26 people – including 10 police officers would be losing their jobs. So who is really tell the truth here? I lean towards the Library Board.

  3. >The poster at 7:49 a.m. has certainly put a personal spin on what occurred last night. There was not a clear,direct,honest answer made by the TC members or their attorney last night. Seems they want money (can't manage their own funds) and they will try anything to get it !!It's about time the TC members remember just who they were elected to represent……and that's the residents and taxpayers of this community….Somehow they conveniently and repeatedly chose to ignore that very important fact! Was in that room last night and the arrogant display by a couple of the TC members would disgust any caring citizen. They ask for the clear opposition the public expressed last night.

  4. >Nice uninformed comments from Anon, who knows even less that the people he/she's criticizing.Moving to County isn't going to save Middletown taxpayers anything, it's just moving those taxes over to county taxes rather than township taxes.Moving to County won't prevent any closures either, something the Mayor and TC are all fully aware of- there's no way the County budget could support the entire Middletown library system, unless ol' Anon 7:49 knows the County budget better than everyone else.The Middletown Library isn't holding on to any surplus due to any Middletown taxpayers, it's coming from the state, which is a fact that is continually ignored by the mayor and TC. It's not their money to move.So next meeting you supposedly attend, please learn how to count so you know the difference between 70 and 150 people- that way you can properly parrot whatever message the Mayor and/or the TC wants you to.

  5. >Anonymous 7:49 sounds just like the former mayor's "cheerleader" and "parrot". There were at least 150 people in that meeting room,packed to the walls. Maybe this TC should finally realize the people are fed up with the nonsense. REMEMBER in November and get out to vote….. 2 seats are open to election this year and 1 next year and the residents of this town need to correct this ARROGANCE !!!

  6. >The first anon couldn't be farther from the truth. Don't underestimate our intelligence. I was there and the speakers showed they're not the dummies the TC thinks they are.The fact that that email alerted people all over this town was proof enough that people cared about what what the TC was trying to do.We wouldn't have to be there if the TC was up front and honest about their intentions from the start. Their intimidation and extortion tactics are just that.They are used to getting their way and last night proved people aren't going to let them get away with it.I have much more faith in how the library manages its' budget than those on the TC.Pam Brightbill was embarrassing, Senttembrino was arrogant andinsulting and Fiore the same.One highlight was seeing Sean Byrnes there and hearing him tell the TC agin what they should have been doing all along. I hope he hasn't gone away.Elections have consequences.

  7. >The lack of transparency shown in this latest attempt at extortion just justifies why this Township needs to televise their meetings.I received the email on Fri and by Sun it spread like wild fire.People were enraged to say the least.If we knew what was going on in these meetings, the people in this town would revolt. The ruling majority knows it.The TC should pay attention to the current events going on in the Mid East. People will change their government when they get to that final breaking point.This latest escapade is getting us closer.

  8. >A member of the library board said in a prior conversation he had with the Mayor the Mayor said "The people of Middletown won't care if the sign on the library says Middletown or Monmouth County Library." If this is an accurate recollection of that conversation the mayor is way out of touch with the people he is supposed to represent.

  9. >Anon 8:37if I am not mistaken, I believe that Mayor Fiore said something very close to that during his comments in front of the Board of Trustees last night.

  10. >The truth is that the vast majority of the people in town DON'T care if the Library is Middletown's or the County's. Look how few people were there last night compared to the number of people who received the Library propaganda.Funny how when Sean Byrnes asked the Library to give back surplus funds last year it was a "wise move." This year it's "arrogance."Keep up the partisan work fellows, at least it keeps us smiling during these tough times…

  11. >You keep up the partisan work too lady- and keep smiling in the shadow of Christie's behind-the shade won't last forever.

  12. >Sean asked, the Republicans threatened.

  13. >"Sean asked, the Republicans threatened."Which approach will get the results the taxpayers need?

  14. >First of all, it is ignorant and just plain wrong (or an outright lie on your part (most likeky) anon 11:15) to say that not many people attended the meeting (it was filled to capacity), and that middletown residents wouldn't care if the library was under the control of the library board or monmouth county.This all happened very quickly and still the word got out to the citizenry. If this issue were allowed to build over months, there would be a crushing hoard of people coming to the town council meetings in favor of the library. Guaranteed.Also, it is ignorance, or another lie, on your part to say that the treasurer of the library board knowingly lied about the intent of the town council in her email. The first proposal was to try to extort 2.3 mil from the library at a previous board meeting (which included the idea of charging the library 500k for "rent" on it's current property, among other such wonderful ideas. Then they knocked it down to 1.2 mil, until it finally came out that they wanted 500k. So who are the liars here?You may want to rethink your stance.

  15. >Anon 11:38,Thanks for responding on that, I have been tied up and haven't been able to respond myself. You said it all.

  16. >The email from the Treasurer contained outright lies designed to whip up people's emotions. It worked to an extent – the people who showed up were thinking that the Library was going to be closed or it's operations severely curtailed, neither of which is even close to being true.There are 70,000 residents in Middletown. I would wager that at least 10,000 of them heard about the controversy. Being generous, 200 showed up to the meeting and even less will show up at the next TC meeting. It obviously doesn't mean a whole lot to them.That same group overwhelmingly elected the former Mayor and Kevin Settembrino in November. Do you begin to see a pattern here? LOLThis isn't going to have several months to "build up." This will be over by the end of March.

  17. >Anon 12:28,I believe that is wishful thinking on your part, people do care about the library and its future. If a turn over to the County ever happens there will be hell to pay!

  18. >Poster 12:28 p.m…..the former mayor's cheerleader with her head in the sand yet again…

  19. >This shows again the utter lack of transparency in Middletown's government.They got caught with an extortion attempt and now are back peddling.This TC wants to control everything in town just like they did with the BOE.Since they've screwed up their own finances their diversionary tactic is go after other well run organizations and steal their funds.They haven't shown they're trust worthy. Even if the library does give them some help now, how do we know they will manage it properly in the future.Sean Byrnes and Patrick Short have been warning them for 4 years to change they way they manage and budget and now it's too late. Elections do have consequences.Interesting that Scharfenberger didn't show his face.

  20. >"Hell to pay?"Do you mean like the results of the last election, when there was "Hell to pay" over the tax increase?Hahahahaha!When will you admit that you are in a vocal but very small minority of voters in the town? Most people are not only content with the way the TC is running things, they are happy with the way things are going.With tax rates becoming more stable now, exactly what will the DHB ("dead horse beaters") have to run on in the Fall?Ms. Baum's numerically challenged background as an actuary?

  21. >anon 9:28 Your smugness is so typical.People in your own party are fed up, so don't count on continued support.What ever goes around, comes around.Change will happen when you guys make one two many mistakes and take the people of this town for granted.Linda Baum is a smart articulate women. Don't underestimate her.

  22. >anon 9:28 The TC has trouble telling the truth and knowing how to calculate tax increases.I see you're already attacking Linda Baum. Must be a little intimidated by her intelligence.She also doesn't have to flutter her arms all over the place when she speaks.

  23. >9:26 Anonymous…..the liars and cheats that make such a ridiculous attempt at trying to run this town have reached the very limits of any ability.They call it the "Peter Principle"They have risen to their level of incompetence !!

  24. >We all know who YOU are and what you are about. I don't know Linda Baum, but I am familiar with your ad hominem attacks on your neighbors and others in the township and quite frankly, now that your shenanigans have been rewarded with a patronage position, the game really has changed. I know the current crop of politicians running this township has little understanding of conflict of interest, but this may be a good time to start boning up on its meaning.

  25. >The truth hurts doesn't it?It's only when you come to realize that you are in a minority that you can stop throwing molotov cocktails and actually join the discussion.For what it's worth, I like Ms. Baum, but she has joined the DHB in throwing stuff out there just for the sake of being against anything the TC is for.She is waaaaaaaay out of her depth when she tries to talk about municipal finance – and it shows.I think that people respect intelligent, thoughtful comment from someone who might run for office. By clearly showing herself to be a candidate already, and by joining the DHB, Ms. Baum has likely already begun to have people tune her out automatically when she begins to speak.Maye someone close to her will give her some good advice, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that.As for this "controversy," the Library will cave and give more than $400K back to the taxpayers, you watch and see…

  26. >The 9:26 poster must be delerious. STABLE TAX RATES??? Can't do math any better then "September Song ".

  27. >How does anyone who is charged with responsibility, as this poster9:31 a.m. has been rewarded with a political patronage appointment ,better put her integrity and ethics in order ,if she has any,because trampling on others will put her in a court room not a tax board meeting if she doesn't.Time to stop condemning people who are smarter than you,lady!!

  28. >anon 9:33 You have no clue and don't know Linda Baum so how can you possibly critique her. Are you feeling threatened? Already trying to discredit people who show more intelligence than the those ruling this town. They've proven their incompetence time and again.How many times did Short and Byrnes warn the TC about the financial problems we are facing now? The TC did not plan and chose to ignore and discredit sound advise. Remember our esteemed former Mayor saying "they do the budget through osmosis".And you have the gall to say Ms. Baum is out of her league. What league? The Republicans keep a tight lid on information so people have to literally investigate what is really happening in this town. Eventually as in this situation the ugly truth comes out and you show your true colors.

  29. >Linda Baum is a very intelligent,articulate,educated and informed individual. A pleasure to meet.Ignorance is demonstrated by the poster attacking her and that individual wasn't even at the Library Board meeting. That poster has an opinion on everybody and everything and the time has come to "educate that tongue" before you open your vicious mouth against anyone ever again.

  30. >Senttembrino has shown himself to be a pit bull cut from the same cloth as Scharfy and Fiore. Add another elected official to the list of morally corrupt. They're main objective is to confuse the public with their half truths and deception.It's become apparent that they're caught up in their own web of deception.The lack of respect they show the people in this town is appalling.Elections have consequences.

  31. >I thought Senttembrino would be different from the rest. I didn't vote for Sharfy because he continually mislead the public and his goal of self promotion was always apparent.The people in this town are learning a hard lesson. Be careful who you vote for. Don't vote for the party, vote for the person.As a Republican I thought Sean Byrnes was the best committeeman we ever had. His running mate also showed a lot of potential. It's too bad the electorate got caught up in the national anti Dem sentiment.It's very true what has been already stated: Elections have consequences.

  32. >Anon 17:49 I just got to read this blog and thought your comments about accusing the the Library Board of lying to be incredible.Those individuals have done a great job with managing the library and it shows.You're just peeved that the email was so effective and showed the people don't want the TC messing with their library. Who would?The TC continually misleads the public with their orchestrated defense of the poor management of this town. When have they ever told the truth? They don't even take responsibility for their own ineptness. Blame everyone else, distort and distract. The nerve of Fiore and Senttembrino using these tactics. Just like Scharfy tried to blame the teacher's union last year and got his own people elected to the BOE. See how that worked. You don't demand what you think you're owed. You negotiate and compromise. I'm not a fan of unions because the pendulum has swung and times have changed. But their contracts are negotiated. Treat people with respect and you will be respected. This TC doesn't understand that, because they are so arrogant and know they can do whatever they want.The library should try and make a concession but not at it's own expense. Make sure the public knows exactly what you're giving and where it's going.I don't believe for one minute that this money is going to save jobs. The jobs have already been lost.

  33. >I'm a strong library supporter. I got a rude awakening last Wed. seeing our TC in action and was shocked especially with Senttembrino. These people are a disgrace. I'm not a political person, but I see how politics control this town. This display of arrogance was an eye opener and showed those in attendance why we need to pay attention to who's governing our town.I was equally impressed with those who spoke so articulately especially with Sean Byrnes and Linda Baum.It takes guts to fight the people in control for what you believe in and right the wrong.The anonymous comments posted here who try and discredit those who do are just plain cowards.

  34. >A couple of points:I was at the meeting, so I was able to judge that the false email was somewhat effective, however, what will ultimately prove to be more effective are the results of the last three election that have lead to the current TC. We, the people of Middletown trust them to do what's right – and they will.So the Library Board, with all of its arrogance will be dealt with. Like I've said, this will be over by the end of March.Politics a'int beanbag, as Harry Truman used to say, so Ms. Baum had better get used to hearing about it when she makes rookie mistakes like she did at the Library Board meeting. Like I said – I like her, but she looked foolish by making up numbers about something that was not even relevant to the meeting she was attending.Joining the DHB just isn't going to get her elected. If she wants to be put forth as a candidate on friendly blogs like this one, she'd better bring her "A" game.Oh, and threatening to sue someone over comments on a blog is kind of petty, don't you think?

  35. >Anon 6:12 I was there too and you're wrong. We the people don't like being continually lied to. Calling the library board arrogant takes the cake. The arrogance of Senttembrino and Fiore was revolting.No wonder you don't want the meetings televised.I don't know what if any aspirations Linda Baum might have, but isn't that irrelevant?The point is the TC has a habit of twisting the truth and I'm glad there are intelligent people in this town who expose it.

  36. >No one was threatening to sue anyone. The comment was to point out that people will not tolerate the suspected individual's conduct (Anonymous 7:49)in the conduction of business with the Monmouth County Tax Board. There is recourse for anyone confronted with that situation and then a courtroom is the next step. Arrogance and insolence and personal attacks WILL NOT FLY !!The representatives on the tax board are evenly divided between republicans and democrats so no nonsense should take place there. There are laws to protect the public from the ilk of the recent republican patronage appointee.

  37. >"We the people" of Midlletown are fed up and disgusted with these arrogant,ineffective and incapable political goons !

  38. >I'm sure Linda Baum sleeps better at night knowing one of Middletown's political hacks "likes her". And I'm sure she appreciates political advice from someone whose "bones" were made by stuffing hysterical notes in mailboxes and peppering blogs with easily recognizable Republican propaganda. Not sure why you choose to spend your time with "dead horse beaters", but we're grateful for the vivid reminder of the type of people running this town and providing a steady stream of evidence that having an "A" game is not a requirement for public office in Middletown.

  39. >Anony 6:12,.. MMM is not a "friendly" blog if that is what you are referring to. It's a biased,bashing tool for the arrogant republican viewpoint. Isn't is one of your frequent platforms for the know it all,lying trash mouth we are all so familiar with. You cannot comprehend that there are many honest,intelligent,decent,caring people in this world that do not agree with you. These people are outraged by the goon squads and the puppet shows that take place in this community.

  40. >Reading some of these comments I wonder how some of you get dressed in the morning, let alone get access to the Internet.Sure hope there's no conflict of interest with anyone on the TC to get the Middletown Library system moved into the County system.Certainly someone couldn't possibly have a hidden agenda to add another library system and all its buildings to someone they're already trying to work on with the County system.I really, really do.Again, the money's not for the TC to spend, and if the library moves to County then we'll all be paying for it in County taxes.

  41. >We pay for it one way or another but we want it administrated by the very Board of Trustees that have proven they KNOW HOW TO MANAGE IT and SPEND THE LIBRARY"S FUNDS !WE DO NOT WANT the inept goon squad threatening that Board of Library Trustees as we all witnessed last Wednesday evening. There is no a tread of integrity or ethics in any of them.They certainly do not represent the people of Middletown when their endeavors involve destroying our school system or raiding the funds designated by law to our library system. It's about time this clueless "gang" remembered that !No one feels sorry for any of these financially inept and incompetent individuals who all speak with forked tongues and have proven they can't be trusted.

  42. >Let's make a prediction, maybe a bet as to how long it will take the phrase "finance committee" to be mentioned during the public session of tomorrow night's meeting? I'll bet 2 minutes.Also sure to be said is the phrase: "I have a financial background as an actuary…"

  43. >Don't you think it's time we had a Finance Committee? I'm sure we have people with more finance experience in this town than the TC. Why do the critics reject people who obviously know what they're talking about? Listen instead of criticize, and show some respect. Maybe people like Linda Baum can actually help us.

  44. >Anonymous 11:29 a.m….do we sense that the expertise of the person you are belittling (you are good at that but have little ability except a vicious mouth) threatens you and the inept on the TC ?

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