Daily Archives: March 30, 2011

>Ringing Controversy; Concerned Citizens of Middletown Robocalls Strike A Nerve

>It seems that the latest round of Robocalls that went out yesterday afternoon by the group calling themselves “Concerned Residents of Middletown” have struck a nerve with some sitting on the Township Committee who say that the calls don’t ring true.

In a column published this morning over at Redbankgreen.com, Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore and his Deputy Mayor Pam Brightbill question the legitimacy of the group Concerned Residents of Middletown and it’s message.

It appears to be just another desperate attempt by the Middletown Democrats to spread misinformation to the taxpayers,” Fiore is quoted as saying in reference to who he thinks is behind the calls. He adds “the real truth will come out. The information they’re pointing out is just not accurate,” when referencing that the Townships budget will be introduced next week.

As if that has any real barring on the truthfulness of the messages contained in the robocalls. Remember last year how Mayor Scharfenberger and those sitting on the Committee, other than Democrat Sean Byrnes, insisted that the Township tax increase was only 2.8% when the proposed budget for 2010 was introduced in last June, when in actuality the municipal tax rate increased by 13.9%.
I think the people lacking credibility on budget issues are those that sit on the Township Committee. The real truth behind the budget numbers and any proposed tax increase which will be presented next Monday night, wont really be known until revised tax bills are sent out to residents, after the budget is adopted later in the year, just as it was last year. When residents looked at their tax statements expecting to see only an increase of 2.8% in the municipal rate, they were stunned by the difference.
Before passing judgment on these robocalls, it is important to see if the message included in them pan out as describe. Only then can we tell who was spreading false information to residents.


Filed under 2% cap, Concerned Citizens of Middletown, Middletown Township, Pamela Brightbill, proposed budget, RedBankGreen.com, Robo-calls, tax increase, Tony Fiore

>In Case You Missed It: Local library budgets get separate line on property tax bill: Law might shelve impulse to merge

>In case you missed it, there was an article posted Sunday on the Asbury Park Press’s website that would be of particular interest to those that had been following the drama that had been playing out between Middletown’s Township Committee and the Middletown Library over the past 2 months.

A new law signed by Gov. Christie on Tuesday of last week, created a dedicated line on property tax bills for funding municipal libraries and makes a library’s budget exempt from the state’s new 2 percent cap on annual spending increases.

…Although taxpayers will continue to pay a percentage of their property’s assessment to fund their local library, the money will no longer be considered part of a municipality’s budget, making the process less political, said Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula, D-Somerset, one of the law’s sponsors.

“Unfortunately, some municipalities were not providing the funding to their libraries on a timely basis,” said Chivukula, who noted that library usage has increased statewide since the recent economic downtown.

The law should help to bring parity between local libraries and county systems, which already had dedicated line items exempt from the cap restriction, said Patricia Tumulty, executive director of the New Jersey Library Association.

“This was a very important piece of legislation,” Tumulty said….

What impact, if any, would this new law have had if in the battle between Middletown and it’s Library if it had been known prior to the Library agreeing to the Township’s terms for transferring $500,000 of reserved forms from the Library’s coffers to that of the Township?
I’m not sure, but I think the Library wouldn’t have felt the immediate need to pony up the excess funds over it’s legitimate surplus, in an attempt to head off the Township from transferring the operations of the Middletown Library to the Monmouth County system. I think the negotiations between the lawyers for both sides would have been extremely different.
The library’s Board of Trustees gave up a lot for very little in return and the impact of the Boards decision will be felt by the library for an extremely long time based on the wording of the 3 Library resolutions passed at it’s March 16th meeting, which authorized the funds transfer.
As the article states, local municipalities that fund their own library system can’t just transfer control of it’s library to it’s county system on a whim. If the municipal library system was created by an ordinance, as most have been, then the municipality would have to propose a new ordinance stating it’s intention to transfer it’s library over to the county and then place the ordinance on the ballot for referendum approval by township residents.

…For decades, the state’s policy for dissolving libraries has been that municipalities must repeat whichever process was used to create the system originally, Tumulty said. Typically, that has meant a public referendum is required, she said….

I would have like to have seen what would have happened if residents of Middletown did have a say in the matter. I don’t think such a referendum would have gained approval.


Filed under Asbury Park Press, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, reserved funds, resolutions and ordinances, surplus funds, voter referendum

>Contrasting Styles Between Cuomo & Christie; Different Approach, Same Outcome No Animosity

>NJ.com yesterday had an interesting editorial that I think a lot of people should be reading.

In the face of an $11 billion dollar budget defect, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo balanced NY’s budget by cutting spending and entitlement without raising taxes just as our governor did last year (although that is somewhat debatable). Cuomo achieved this by reaching out to legislator and including them in the process. Gov. Christie on the other hand, has created divisiveness between the governor’s office and those in the legislature with his take it or leave it approach and sledgehammer style.

Interestingly Cuomo was able to balance his State’s budget without demonizing any one group (public employees) or had to hold nonstop “Town Hall” meetings to convince people that there is a problem and his way of solving it, is the only way that it can be done.

Resident of NJ should take notice and see how a different, less caustic and abrasive style can achieve similar yet far different results.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just won agreement on a budget for New York state that cuts overall spending and contains no new taxes. He even blocked an attempt by fellow Democrats to extend a surtax on millionaires.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because New Jersey did all that last year. Perhaps Cuomo looked across the Hudson and liked what he saw.

Now maybe Gov. Chris Christie can return the compliment. Because Cuomo has something to teach him as well.

Note the lack of personal attacks in Albany. Cuomo was tough, but he wasn’t abusive. He didn’t call his Assembly speaker a liar, for example, or clear his schedule for a nonstop tour on the unlimited greed of teachers and cops.

And he negotiated. Especially relevant to New Jersey was Cuomo’s approach to Medicaid.

Like most states, New York and New Jersey are facing daunting increases in health care costs. Cuomo’s approach was collaborative.

He invited key stakeholders, including hospitals and unions, to sit together and hammer out an agreement on cuts. If they couldn’t come up with an answer, he said, then he would do it for them.

After two months, Cuomo’s committee pulled it off, agreeing to 79 cost-cutting measures, from lowering reimbursements to shifting patients to managed care plans.

Christie wants to cut $540 million in Medicaid spending next year, a huge sum that both sides expect to be a main point of contention. But he’s drawn up his plan in secret, and even now is keeping the Legislature out of the loop. People such as Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), a key architect of the current system, are still looking for basic answers.

“They are crafting their own proposal in a vacuum,” Vitale says. “They would be wise to include legislators.”

Cuomo’s collaboration ensured that his plan had broad political support, and would pass. Christie’s approach risks just the opposite.

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Filed under budget deficit, entitlement spending, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gov. Chris Christie, health care costs, Medicaid, Millionaire'sTax, New Jersey, New York, NJ.com, tax cuts, tax increase, Town Hall