It never seizes to amaze me what the news media considers news when it involves Middletown. Case in point; Monday night was Middletown’s monthly Township Committee meeting and the only news coming from the Asbury Park Press
and Middletown Patch
about the meeting was that Middletown will be sticking to it’s intention of not exceeding Governor Christie mandated 2% cap on budgets, which is nothing new and has already been reported on numerous times, and that the budget will be introduced on April 4th, which I mentioned over the weekend.
What should have been reported as news by these three is the fact that in the face of a tax increase, employee layoffs and other potential service cuts, Tax Assessor Charles Heck and his assistant will be receiving bonuses worth $20,000 ($15K for Heck, $5K for his assistant).
Mayor Fiore justifies these bonuses because Charles Heck supposedly saved the Township $50,000 while negotiating the price of the recent Township wide reassessment with Reality Appraisal (a former employer of Heck’s) and worked many long hours helping prepare paper work for Reality Appraisal leading up to the reassessment.
When you factor in that Heck is will be receiving a statutory 2.5% raise to his $108,500 salary along with the $15,000 in bonus money, he will be receiving quite a windfall from the Township this year when other will be losing their jobs.
In the audio clip below you can hear Fiore at his best “fibbing” about why the Township Committee is giving Heck his bonus and about how last year, the entire Township Committee was in agreement about providing Heck and his assistant this windfall.
The thing is though, that when I spoke to former Township Committee Sean Byrnes about this he said that he had no recollection of a discussion taking place about Heck saving the Township $50,000. He stated that they wanted to pay him more because of all the tax appeals he had been working on, and that they subsequently approved the $400,000 price tag for reassessment by Reality Appraisal and that they (the Committee) must have worked this deal out later without him. He stated, as I had posted earlier, that last year when he was a Committeeman the Committee attempted to pass a similar resolution to reward Heck but t was dropped when he opposed it.
Fiore really needs to think about this before he opens his mouth again on this subject, I really can’t understand how he or anyone else can justify this when other peoples livelihoods are at stake. How can he look those, about to lose their jobs in the eye and tell them that someone will be receiving a bonus at their expense? If I were in contract negotiating with the Township right now, I wouldn’t cave in and give anything back when something as blatant as this is being waved in my face. I’d play hardball until the end.
It doesn’t make sense to spend $20,000 to save $30,000 when you expect a person to do a job that he is well compensated for already. Middletown tax payers should be benefiting by having the complete $50,000 put towards tax relief, after all it is their money more so than Heck’s.
On a side note, I hope those on the Library Board are paying attention to this. This is a perfect example of what others tried to warn them about before they voted to hand over $500,000 of reserved funds to the Township. The Township Committee can not be trusted to spend OUR money wisely or prudently. It’s OK to give a$15,000 bonus to an already highly compensated tax assessor but it is unconscionable give 1% raises to the lowest paid employees of the library, a raise that would average out to about $1 per week in their paychecks?