>N.J. municipalities scramble to notify voters on property tax referendum; I wonder if Middletown has plans to hedge it’s bet

>According to the Star-Ledger, today is the last day that municipalities around the State have to notifiy their votes of the potential to hold a property tax referendum that would enable a municipality to exceed Governor Christie’s 2% cap on budgets.

I posted Saturday about how Middletown’s Administrator Tony Mercantante and others have stated that they had no intention to exceed the 2% cap and that there would be no referendum needed, especially since Mercantante had no idea how a referendum would work. He stated at the February 16th Library Board meeting that the State Legislature(code word for Democrats) in its bill, provided no guidance or allocated any type of funds to municipalities for the purpose of such an event. So Middletown wasn’t going to even consider such a possibility.

Instead of planning for the possiblility of a referendum, Middletown’s Mayor Tony Fiore, and others that control the town planned to follow Governor Christie’s lead and stay with in a 2% budget increase.

That sounds great in theory but wouldn’t be a good idea to hedge your bets and announce a referendum just in case they can’t stay with in the cap?

Is the Township Committee really prepared to lay off 10 or more police officers and the whole department of Parks & Recreation if they can not get union consessions during contract talks or if they Library Board refuses to hand over any more reserved funds then they are legally responsible to do, which at this point is in the neighborhood of $250,000?

I guess these questions will be answered at tonight’s Township workshop meeting.

TRENTON — New Jersey enters a new era today as voters get to find out if they may be asked next month to raise their property taxes beyond the Christie administration’s new 2 percent limit.

Under the law signed by Gov. Chris Christie last summer, residents will decide if their town or school budget can exceed the 2 percent cap through a referendum on April 27, the same day as school board elections.

Towns and schools were scrambling last week to meet today’s deadline to publish a newspaper ad notifying voters a referendum may be held. As of Sunday, five towns — Plumsted, Mount Holly, Riverdale, North Arlington and Chesilhurst — had placed ads and at least five more towns and two schools planned to, according to groups representing towns and schools….Read more >>> Here

22 Comments

Filed under 2% cap, budget deficit, budget surplus, Middletown, Middletown Library, property tax referendum, the Star-Ledger

22 responses to “>N.J. municipalities scramble to notify voters on property tax referendum; I wonder if Middletown has plans to hedge it’s bet

  1. >And how exactly do you "hedge your bets?"They would have to submit a budget that went over the cap – that's what needs to be approved by referendum.Are you calling for a tax increase of more than 2%?

  2. >No i'm not.Hedging their bet would be submitting paper work. To hold a referendum in case they don't get the funds from the library that they expect or finish contract talks in time to present a budget to the state next week.You can prepare if necessary but don't have to follow through on it.

  3. >Middletown's TC hasn't prepared for anything financial in nearly six years. They use osmosis to construct budgets and then expect the taxpayers to "ante"up!WE NEED A FINANCE COMMITTEE to plan for fiscal responsibility. NONE OF THESE FIVE ever want to hear of fiscal responsibility,never mind practice it and their EGOTISTICAL ARROGANCE gets in the way of realizing THEY NEED HELP.

  4. >My understanding of how it works is that the TC would have to submit a budget that went over the cap, that is, the budget would have to have a proposal for a specific amount to be raised by taxes that went over the cap, and then ask the voters to allow that in a referendum.They've already "hedged their bets" by submitting the layoff plan. If there are no new savings or sources of revenue, the layoff plan will get them to the 2% cap.I fail to see how asking for a larger tax increase is a responsible thing to do, yet that's what you support?

  5. >Anon 1:05,Based on what I heard come out of Tony Fiore's and Kevin Settembrino's own mouths, the 26 layoffs will happen regardless of any funds coming from the negotiation table or from the library. Additional layoffs will happen if the TC does not receive at least $542K from the library. that's the number that the TC was planning on getting from the library when they presented their case at the library meeting on February 16th.So no, they haven't "hedged their bets" as far as I'm concerned.And this is not about calling for a larger tax incease than 2%, it's about being smart and planning for necessities.There are good taxes and bad taxes. If my tax dollars go towards keeping more police on the street I'm for it. If my tax dollars are going to fund an under performing swim club, arts center or concerts in the park then I'm against it. I am for keeping options open ifother options don't work out. What's the worse case scenario if the TC prepares for a referendum? It has to prepare two budgets.1. A budget above the cap that failed to get adequate concessions from the unions that have their contracts up and a library which doesn't pony up $542K which wont lead to more people losing their jobs and the public safety being put in jeopardy, so an additonal percentage or two is added to offset more job losses and voted on by residents.2. A budget that falls under the cap with expected savings and maintains the stautus quo that still calls for 26 or more people losing their jobs.If you prepare as if you will be going in the direction of a referendum you hedge your bets. If the referendum passes, the TC has the needed coverage from the public and it's critics for raising taxes above the 2% cap. If savings eventually come after the referendum you can adjust the budget accordingly because voters are only voting on a proposed budget. If the referrndum fails your no worse off then you would have been.But if the TC is stubborn and insists on following Governor Christie's lead by maintaining a "hard" cap it could backfire and lead to more police losing their jobs and additonal services in town being cut, which will anger voters. At this point however it is a moot point, the deadline date to inform residents of a possible referendum has past so it will be interesting to see how this eventually plays out.

  6. >As usual, they will probably bond for the necessary funds.Add that to our already high bond debt.

  7. >Obviously this administration won't need a referendum. They also won't need a finance committee.

  8. >Anony 5:07….ARROGANCE PERSONIFIED !!!!!

  9. >So, you're saying that you will go for a tax increase above 2% to keep Police staffing at current levels?

  10. >Yes I would.Wouldn't you?

  11. >Wasn't Christie's number one bootlicker the first in line among mayors signing on to the 2% cap? Well, it certainly paid off for him, let's see how much it pays off for the citizens of Middletown.

  12. >WE have too many police in this township making excessive salaries and pensions and benefits are absurd compared to the private sector. The public can't pay their own bills and be slaves to this outrageous raping of the taxpayer any longer.GET REAL !! !!NO question REFORM is on the way

  13. >You would support such an effort because you know damn well it would stir up a political hornets nest. As a previous poster has made very clear, you are only in favor of things the Republicans are against and only against things they favor. It's no wonder why you are such an advocate for transparency because it's easy to see right through you.

  14. >When the TC was able to last year, they chose NOT to layoff police, and instead got savaged because of the resulting tax increase.You can't have it both ways. The unions have it within their ability to make modest concessions to sabe jobs, let's see if they do it…

  15. >In response to Anons 6:25, 6:43 & 7:046:25- For years Middletown police chiefs and Committee members have been saying that the Police department is under staffed. If you want to deplete the ranks further because you care to listen to false rhetoric about how public sector wages and benefits are out of line with those in the private sector so be it, but that argument has been debunked over the past few weeks. 6:43- I'm for smart, responsible and responsive government, which Middletown does not have. Transparency is a wonderful thing, Middletown should practice it more than critics wouldn't have so much to complain about.7:04- Last year Middletown gave an 8% retro- active raise the police for 2008 & 2009 in exchange for a 0% increase in 2010, which Gerry Scharfenberger crowed about and was proud to hang his hat on even though it cost Middletown over $4M. Also Scharfenberger and crew refused to heed the advice of Pat Short and Sean Byrnes for much of 2009 & 2010. They passed the budgets in August and September well past the dates when true savings could have been achieved with prudent financial planning and decision making. As you said you can't have it both ways! And again out of Fiore's and Settembrino's own mouths – union concessions will not save anyone one of the 10 police officers from losing their jobs – concessions will only eliminate the need to lay more people off.

  16. >Sorry Mike,The private sector does not get the pensions that the police and firefighters get. Experience as a retiree from what was once one of the largest companies in the world (AT&T)doesn't provide me with 70 % of my salary and it required that I worked till age 55 with 30 years of service or take a penalty prior to meeting those conditions. No 20 or 25 and out with 70% of salary.Tell me why the taxpayer should buy these kind of benefits for the public worker and be unable to fund their own pension. This has got to change or there will not be pensions to be had for the public sector at all. The time has come when this is driving the state pension system into bankruptcy. Greed has replaced need and common sense and the reality of economics.

  17. >Please tell us just what private employer ever buys back your sick time and unused vacation days. Unheard of in private employment. Most companies have absence control programs and they don't want to have to pay sick time at all. God help you if you abuse "sick time". You sure as heck won't be on the steps of the state house if you are scheduled to work that's for darn sure. Many companies have disability programs or if not employees must pay for state disability deductions to cover them in those kinds of illnesses,just like unemployment situations.As for vacation time,,,use it or lose it !It is unfortunate that the public worker (including the politicians) forever have their hands out for more,and more and more. This has got to END !

  18. >Were you in the stock buying plan at ATT where you buy a share and they give you one? Policemen and Firemen don't get social security.

  19. >Anon 2:59 & 4:442:59 – A look at national statistics between public sector employees and private sector employees show that the public sector employees, often times are better educated and receive lower salaries for comparable work than those in the private sector, and not all public sector employees enjoy the generous benefits.4:44 – Up until very recently, the company that I work for would allow employees to bank vacation time indefinitely and would buy back unused sick time. Now we can accumulate time for only two years then have to use them or lose them. Many companies offer to buy back unused sick time as an incentive/reward for those employees that come to work every day. As for other private sector employees, those that work in unions, I am sure that many may have similar provisions in their contracts. The loss of worker benefits over the years can be attributed to corporate greed and there incessant rallying against unions over the past 30 years and as a result real benefits and wages in the country have declined when you adjust for inflation.Instead of being angry at those that have, people in this country that have not, should be screaming at their private employers to bring wages and benefits up to todays standards,instead of cowering in fear of loosing their jobs and letting corporate American blackmail them into easy submission.How often do people have to hear that America is the most productive country in the world only to find out that their jobs will be shipped overseas because less productive people can do the same job for 1 or 2 cents less per unit? Wake up people!

  20. >They did not have a stock plan where you buy a share and get a share. They did have a payroll deduction plan to purchase stock in a program called ESOP (employee stock ownership plan).Participation was voluntary as were the 401K plans that were offered also in the Bell Operating companies as well as ESOP after Divestiture of AT&T and the operating companies. It was advantageous to participate in a 401 K because it did have a matching element.

  21. >Mike,ATT&T was an "agency" shop under the CWA when CWA only represented telephone workers and also the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers represented the tradesmen as an "agency shop". This was true in the operating companies also after divestiture.An agency shop means you must pay dues whether you choose to belong or not.I agree with you about corporate greed but I also think some unions have exceeded what is rational and economically feasible today. These economic demands are no longer realistic or fair to the taxpaying public (remember union members are both republican and democrat and are taxpayers also). It is unfortunate when the politicians use partisan arguments to divide the workers of today and the rhetoric reaches insanity as is happening.

  22. >No one gets Social Security unless they have paid into it for forty quarters or are a spouse or child of a qualified Social Security beneficiary or are a qualified disabled worker under Social Security.Those who work for the federal government also do not get Social Security. They pay into their federal program. The police and firemen do not pay into Social Security (until they work in covered employment) They contribute to THEIR PENSIONS BENEFITS instead.

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