>In The Face Of Tax Increases And Layoffs Middletown’s Mayor Fiore Justifies $20K In Bonuses to Tax Assessors

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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, Redbankgreen.com 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?
Shame on you Kevin Settembrino and the rest of you who sit on the Township Committee for allowing this to move forward.

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf

19 Comments

Filed under bonuses, budget deficit, Charles Heck, layoffs, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, tax increase, taxpayers, Tony Fiore

19 responses to “>In The Face Of Tax Increases And Layoffs Middletown’s Mayor Fiore Justifies $20K In Bonuses to Tax Assessors

  1. >KEEP UP THE GREAT JOB MIDDLETOWN

  2. >Remember Settembrino said"anyone who says taxes in Middletown are increasing 13 % is not qualified to serve on the TC. Guess Mr Settembrino was never qualified was he. Today in the APP Tony Mercantante states taxes increased 13.4 %. THER ARE FIVE MEMBERS OF THE TC NOT QUALIFIED TO SERVE NOW !!!!!Especially the former mayor,Oe Sharfey with the slick tongue!!What a JOKE these five really are.This reward to Heck is just the payment part of his revaluation antics and there's no denying facts.You would have to have your head in the sand (or somewhere else) not to see the handwriting on the wall or be just plain stupid.

  3. >If you look at ordinance 2011-3027 you'll notice several "stipends" toward the bottom. What the heck are those?? Are they just raises with a fancy name? Are they bonuses? Why are those employees getting extra money if the township is in such dire financial straits??How are those stipends justified in the face of the layoffs?? Someone should look into this. Why is everything so secretive in this town?

  4. >Anon 2:27,The only way to stop these things from happening is to express your concerns directly to the Committee and Administrator. Go to a TC meeting or stop by Towns Hall on a saturday morning and tell Fiore that it is unacceptable to hand out bonuses during these difficult financial times.

  5. >What is missing from the recording of Leader Fiore is his responding to Grenafege by describing the money paid to Charles Heck, the Tax Assessor, as a stipend in order to avoid using the word bonus, or salary. A stipend by definition is a form of salary different from a wage because it does not represent payment for work performed. It is a nominal amount that allows someone to take on work that is difficult to measure such as a graduate student teaching undergraduates at a university. Stipends are often viewed as gifts. So, the $15,000 in the ordinance that will flow to Mr. Heck and the $5000 going to his assistant is, according to Mr. Fiore's use of the word stipend, a gift of taxpayer dollars, or additional salary for extra work done that the township didn't want to pay to the appraisal firm. The bottom line is that the five Republicans and one appointed Republican lawyer, who acts more and more like an elected offical with each passing meeting, see fit to give away tax dollars for work that was already paid for in Mr. Hecks annual salary. This salary will soon be $111,212 annually; it is retoactive to January, 2011.So, mayorial Leader Fiore needs to understand his vocabulary before he speaks himself into a corner.Charlie Heck was suspended for two weeks without pay, late in 2008 or early in 2009, for failing to comply with tax law and regulations — an historic first in NJ, which says a lot when you consider NJ poltical and government history. Maybe this is Middletown Township Committee trying to slyly (buried in a more comprehensive salary ordinance)give back some of that lost pay with a "stipend", or bonus, of taxpayer dollars for work already paid for in past and future salary checks.

  6. >Mike, why dont u ask for Heck's time sheets for his long hard hours of work lol, btw they also hired Hecks retired office manager for a temporary asignment to doctor his time sheets, oh i mean assist in the reassesment. (her pay… $15,000). Hmmmmmmmm so how much did Heck save the tax payers????

  7. >I am disgusted with the manner in which this TC "governs". Having lived here all of my life and spent all of my adult life as a volunteer in local organizations I can say that the term "Carpet Bagger" is quite fitting to describe this bunch. I remember when we had honorable people serving on the TC who could be taken at their word. I remember a Twp. Administrator named Bud Bradshaw who was most honorable and served this town admirably. Those were great days in Middletown.Scharfenberger spoke of transparency in governing in the past but he will not allow televised TC meetings. Maybe he should change his name to Farcenberger.

  8. >Government in Middletown is a COMPLETE FARCE and a SHAMELESS DISGRACE. Defying the law at every turn of the road and that lawyer is an arrogant specimen that forgets all the oaths he ever took concerning the LAW ! WHO ever elected him to ANYTHING,ANYWAY?GOD HELP MIDDLETOWN.

  9. >Isn't it predictable that the same bunch who relentlessly blame the "greedy" unions for not sacrificing in tough times see themselves as exempt from sacrifice? I mean really, is anyone surprised?

  10. >What's the motto of this Tc….Integrity is for suckers and there's no reason to have respect for the opinion of the people in this town? Sure seems that is the case!

  11. >I don't know guys, the math seems simple enough to me."Save $30,000 or don't save $30,000?""Hmmmmmmmmmm?"

  12. >Hmmmmmm,Seems even simpler to me, how about keeping $50,000 so that you save $50,000

  13. >You assume that was possible.One should never assume.

  14. >Well the only reason it wouldn't be possible is if this is pay back for giving certain GOP party bosses favorable reavaluation figures and then not filling figures on time with the state and county.

  15. >Anon 7:04 – How about saving $20,000 and putting that $20,000 (plus all the stipends) towards saving someone's job? "Hmmmmmmmmm?"

  16. >Anon 3/24/11, 4 p.m.,The motto for the Republican Middletown Township Committee is: Wealty "Taxpayers First". They just leave the 'wealthy' off the signs when they put them up pre-election in the Fall.The goal, as in prime objective, of the Republican township committee for the last 30 years has always been to protect the wealthy taxpayers. This is why the reevaluation was delayed over and over. Finally, after about ten years of postponing the county and the state said enough and legally forced the township committee to complete the reevaluation at the height of the real estate market–just before the market collapsed!If it was done sooner the impact would have been less because the appraised value of the homes would have been pre-peak of the real estate highs. But, remember the 'prime objective' of the Middletown Republican Party, township committee and municipal Republican Party Chairman, Peter Carton (who appealed his property reevaluation and won): 'Wealthy "Taxpayers First"'.So, now the Republican Township Committee in Middletown is paying for numerous tax appeals being won by a spectrum of taxpayers — the wealthy who can afford lawyers and commercial property owners like AT&T, which was awarded $2 million. Bye-the-way the Township borrowed (bonded) money to pay off this award, so add the interest to the cost of this award. Now, thats financial management for you! This is what the resident taxpayer gets because of the poor long term and short term financial planning that the Republican township committee provides. It is also what Republicans get for voting Republicans in; it is what Democrats get for not showing up at the voting booth; it is what Independents get for voting Republican and not Democrat.Remember that you are voting for 'Wealthy "Taxpayers First" when you vote Republican. Keep-up the good work!

  17. >Middletown is in the grips of Peter Carton and his stooges.Better remember that the next time you vote and better think before you push buttons for more stooges.

  18. >Excuse me folks, but employees have a responsibility to look for ways to save their employers money. Most of the time, the thanks you get are just that, thanks, and maybe a little job security. Unless the employer has a bonus or incentive program for which all employees are equally included, a bonus to two employees is grossly unfair. What is the position of all the other hundreds of Township employees on this maneuver of the Township Committee. I would think they are pretty upset about it. ARe they so intimidated by the Administrator and TC that they can't speak out?

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