Toms River Mayoral Candidate’s Call For Dissolving MUA Sounds An Awful Lot Like Dems Call In Middletown To Dissolve TOMSA

Democrats in Middletown have been calling for the the elimination of the Township of Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA)for quite a while now. It is packed with former and present Republican officials — Joan Smith (former mayor), Pat Parkinson (a former mayor who is receiving a salary and all the benefits because he is a full-time employee), Tom Stokes, Chantel Bouw, Emil Wrede, James Hinckly and Charlie Rogers are all well connected members of the Middletown GOP holding various offices within the organization, add to that the name of Township Attorney Brian Nelson former member), you can start to understand the patronage hole that TOMSA has become.

Former Committeeman Sean Byrnes proposed doing away with the authority last year and moving the responsibilities to the Public Works Department because it was a huge patronage pit where all of the current members of TOMSA have been commissioners for several years or more and receive a yearly stipen,State pension credits and are entitled to a Cadillac health care plan at little cost. His proposal however fell on deaf ears or were met with ridicule.

So it is not surprising to hear that the candidat for Mayor in Toms River, Paul Brush, was meet with the same ridicule earlier this week when he spoke out about the patronage pit that is the Toms River Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA), making it his signature campaign issue this year according to an article that ran in the Asbury Park Press on Wednesday.

In a prepared statement, Brush said he was prompted to speak out again on the matter after the Township Council appointed MUA Commissioner Alfonso Manforti to fill the unexpired term of former Councilwoman Melanie Donohue-Appleby, who recently resigned to become a Superior Court judge.

At the time of his appointment, Manforti was also the president of the Toms River Regular Republican Club. He agreed to resign from the club and the MUA following his appointment to the council.

When he announced his candidacy last spring, Brush said he was incensed at the appointment last year of Brick Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis as executive director of the Toms River MUA.

Acropolis was given a $93,000 annual salary as the full-time MUA chief atop his salary as the full-time mayor of Brick, which pays him a salary of $53,000, for a total public salary of $146,000.

“This is in-your-face arrogance,” Brush said Tuesday. “Meanwhile, our mayor and council reward the MUA Commissioner (Manforti) with a position on the Township Council. This has to stop.”

Brush said the authority’s seven commissioners attend one meeting per month and are paid $2,000 with the promise of a pension while entitled to excellent health benefits. Three commissioners, including Manforti, contributed just $30 per year for health insurance, which costs the township $19,954 over the same time period.

“This flies in the face of what the governor is trying to accomplish in New Jersey, but the local politicians remain defiant of the governor,” Brush said.

Brush said the administrative functions of the MUA should be eliminated and its operation absorbed into municipal government at town hall.

“So why does the mayor and council continue to support this bureaucracy at the MUA?” Brush asked. …

…Brush said the authority’s seven commissioners attend one meeting per month and are paid $2,000 with the promise of a pension while entitled to excellent health benefits. Three commissioners, including Manforti, contributed just $30 per year for health insurance, which costs the township $19,954 over the same time period.

“This flies in the face of what the governor is trying to accomplish in New Jersey, but the local politicians remain defiant of the governor,” Brush said.

This is seems like déjàvu all over again for Dems in Middletown who have expressed the same concerns and see the similarities between what goes on between Toms River’s MUA and Middletown’s TOMSA.

Currently the only way to stop this patronage abuse In Middletown and end the entitlement to benefits that of current TOMSA commissioner feel, is not to reappoint them. Unfortunately however, when Middletown had the opportunity two years ago to save tax payers a little money by not reappointing commissioners that had been “grandfathered” against losing such benefits, the members of the Township Committee failed to act and reappointed Tom Stokes, voting 4-1 to reinstate him for another term as a TOMSA Comissioner.

Hopefully in the near future, as other commissioners are up for reappointment, the Township Committee will think differently and not reappoint their GOP cronies to the sewerage authority, but I doubt it.

Just like I doubt that the Township Committee would ever consider doing away with TOMSA and transfering its responiblities to the Middletown Department of Public Works as Sean Byrnes previously proposed.

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Department of Public Works, former mayor., Middletown NJ, Middletown Sewerage Authority, Paul Brush, Toms River NJ, TOMSA

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