Daily Archives: December 16, 2011

Mtown News Flash 12-16-11

Rabies Alert
The Middletown Township Animal Control Division has received laboratory confirmation of 2 wild animals testing positive for Rabies.

The first animal, a skunk was in a fight with a dog in the Leonardo section of the Township. In another incident, a Good Samaritan picked up a sick raccoon and brought it to a veterinarian on their own. This raccoon was found on Kings Hwy near Church St.

Luckily, the dog was up to date on its rabies vaccination and only needed a rabies booster and 45-day quarantine. The person who handled the raccoon was not exposed to the animal in the way they transported it.

In light of finding 2 rabid animals in one week, we would like to remind residents about the possibility of wildlife being infected with Rabies. Everyone should make sure that all domestic animals (dogs, cats, and livestock) are currently vaccinated with a Rabies shot. In addition, residents should be aware that they should not be interacting with wildlife. If you come across a sick or injured animal, keep your distance and please contact Animal Control at 732-615-2094 immediately.

Remember, Rabies is a fatal disease. The best course of defense is the vaccination of your pets and not handling wildlife.

Leaf Collection
Fall leaf collection is underway. Get status reports at www.middletownnj.org/collection

Municipal Offices Holiday Schedule
Municipal offices will be closed Monday, December 26 and Monday, January 2, 2012.

Holiday Garbage and Recycling Collection Schedule

There will be no garbage collection Monday December 26, 2011. The next collection for residences with a Monday garbage collection will be Thursday December 29, 2011.

There will be no garbage collection on Monday January 2, 2012. The next collection for residences with a Monday garbage collection will be Thursday January 5, 2012.

There will be no recycling collection on Monday December 26, 2011 and January 2, 2012. Recycling will be scheduled to be collected on the following day.

Recycling Center Open Dec 27, 28 & Jan 3,4
The Kanes Lane Recycling Center will be OPEN on Tuesday & Wednesday December 27, 28 and January 3, 4 to accommodate residents who need to recycle cardboard, mixed paper and other items after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The Recycling Center is closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Regular operation hours will resume after January 4th. Hours are Thursday through Monday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Organization Day 2012
The Township Committee will hold Middletown’s annual Organization Day meeting at noon on Sunday, January 1, 2012 at Town Hall, 1 Kings Highway.

On the agenda will be the swearing in of the 2012 Mayor and Deputy Mayor. Under the township’s form of government, the Township Committee designates two members to serve as mayor and deputy mayor for a one-year term. Committeeman Anthony P. Fiore will accept the oath of office to serve his second consecutive term. Committeewoman Elect Stephanie C. Murray will be sworn in as the newest member of the Township Committee. The term for each Committee member is three years.

Scores of volunteers traditionally attend to accept oaths of office to serve on more than a dozen township boards, committees and commissions. Each group focuses on different aspects of the community and works to enhance Middletown’s quality of life. Residents are appointed to these positions by the Township Committee.

For more information call the Township Clerk at (732) 615-2014 or visit www.middletownnj.org

Christmas Tree Collection 2012
Christmas Tree Collection begins January 5, 2012. Click here for schedule. Trees can also be brought to the Kanes Lane Recycling Center, 52, Kanes Lane by Middletown residents only free of charge.

Homestead Rebate Update
The Middletown Tax Collection Office advises property owners that the state Homestead Benefit, for property tax year 2010, is being credited to the February 2012 tax quarter for applicable property owners. Adjusted February 2012 tax bills will be mailed on or before December 30, 2011. Please pay the adjusted amount shown on the bill by 4:00 pm February 10, 2012 to avoid interest charges. All questions regarding the homestead credit should be directed to the state Division of Taxation at 1-888-238-1233.

Vote for the MAC in the 2012 NJ Monthly Best of NJ Poll
Please vote for the Middletown Arts Center under the category of “Recreation & Attractions: Live Theater / Arts Venue”. This is the link to cast your vote: http://njmonthly.com/articles/best-of-Jersey/2012-jersey-choice-the-best-of-new-jersey.html. Deadline for voting is January 15, 2012. By winning the poll, the Middletown Arts Center would continue to spread the word statewide about its talented instructors, affordable classes, and free events and programs. It’s a true pleasure to represent an organization that educates and entertains thousands of families year-round.

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Filed under leaf collection, Middletown Arts Center, Middletown NJ, newsflash, Rabies Alert, reorganization

Pallone Announces $2.94 Million Allocated to Port Monmouth Beach Replenishment Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 16, 2011

Funding Will Allow Army Corps to Begin Project

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. Friday announced that the House approved $2.94 million for beach replenishment efforts in Port Monmouth, NJ in the Fiscal Year 2012 spending bill. The Senate is also expected to approve this funding allocation Friday, and it will then go to the President’s desk.

“Today’s vote is one of the final hurdles before the Army Corps can move forward with this important project,” said Pallone. “It was a hard-fought effort to fully fund it, but I’m satisfied with this allocation. Beach replenishment is crucial to the recreational uses of the shore as well as to providing a protective barrier.”

The U.S. Army Corps is currently on schedule to get the project under way in September 2012.

Pallone has worked with the Obama administration since the president took office to stress the importance of Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects, particularly the benefit of beach replenishment in New Jersey. He has worked hard over the past last few years to get earmark appropriations for Port Monmouth.

Prior to this allocation, $3.4 million has been banked, which when added to the $2.94 million dollars in the funding bill will total $6.4 million.

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Filed under Army Corps of Engineers, beach replenishment, Port Monmouth NJ

Secret Public Hearing at the Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA) Board meeting of December 7, 2011

by guest blogger Linda Baum

This was the second TOMSA Board meeting I’ve attended, and like last month, I was the only member of the public there.

The meeting started promptly at 7:30 p.m. — I made it there just in time — and the first thing on the agenda was a public hearing on TOMSA’s 2012 budget. Huh?? I knew nothing about it and hadn’t even had a chance to read the words “Public Hearing” on the agenda sheet when Executive Director Pat Parkinson asked if there were public comments. He never announced that it was a public hearing, so I didn’t know. He just awkwardly asked if there were comments. How am I supposed to comment on a budget I haven’t seen at a hearing I didn’t know about? I was caught by surprise and said nothing – a free pass they won’t get next time – and the Board quickly moved to adopt the budget by unanimous vote while I was still scratching my head.

I wondered why nobody told me about the public hearing since I know a few people who regularly check the public notices in the paper. In fact, hat tip to ‘B’ for letting me know about a Dec. 2nd notice in the APP changing the TOMSA Board meeting date from Dec. 8th to Dec. 7th. That notice said nothing about the public hearing. I did an online search for a notice that did, and found none.

Because the public wasn’t notified of the hearing in line with statutory requirements, the budget is subject to legal challenge. I intend to press this issue in order to get another hearing scheduled. I want the opportunity to review the budget (and, oh yeah, obtain it) and to prepare prior to the hearing. You may be wondering why I don’t just use the public comments period at the end of the next Board meeting to discuss the budget. Because hearings are a better forum for obtaining information – different rules apply to them. For one, there’s no time limit, so you will get all of your questions in, while public comments following a meeting may be limited to just a few minutes. Of course, even at hearings there’s no guarantee you’ll get any answers.

If you’re behind on your sewer bills, now’s the time to pay up. There will be an accelerated tax lien sale on December 20th for sewer fees that were due by the end of June 2011. Between 300 and 400 households (or businesses) will be affected.

This is the second year that TOMSA, which operates on a calendar year budget, has done an accelerated tax lien sale. December 2010 was the first one. Prior to that, sales were held each April, including a sale in April 2010. So there were two such sales in 2010, which coincidentally is the first year that TOMSA transferred surplus revenue to the Township – transfers were $365K in 2010 followed by $368K in 2011, per the Township’s 2011 adopted budget. TOMSA’s switch to an accelerated sale schedule in 2010 gave them a one-time boost in extra revenue for that budget year that made up for some of the Authority’s forfeited revenue that year.

One other observation. Late payers caught unaware by the accelerated sale schedule in 2010 may have found themselves with an unexpected lien on their properties and owing far more than they anticipated.

If you read my post on the November 10th meeting of the TOMSA Board, you may recall that there was a lot of discussion about the excessive fees TOMSA was charging for OPRA requests. Well, there’s news. Since then, TOMSA’s OPRA request form has been revised to list the correct fees per the 2010 amendment to the OPRA law, which lowered fees to just 5 cents for letter-size copies and 7 cents for legal, effective 7/1/10.

I mentioned at the December 7th meeting that TOMSA may owe a refund to people who have submitted OPRA requests since 7/1/10. Executive Director Pat Parkinson quickly replied that there haven’t been any requests. No OPRA requests in a year and a half??? I said that seemed unlikely, and some guy at the table actually had the nerve to mock me as if Parkinson’s word is law and I should believe what I’m told. (It was that Brian Nelson-esque fellow I mentioned in my last post. I’ll have to get his name next time.) Well, I’ve done some checking around, and I now know of at least 2 OPRA requests submitted to TOMSA in that timeframe.

A couple of days after the Board meeting, I submitted my own OPRA request to TOMSA. One of the things I asked for is a list of persons who have submitted an OPRA request since 7/1/10. I figure those folks might like to know they have a holiday bonus coming. Mr. Parkinson handles all OPRA requests personally, so it will be interesting to see what I get.

I’m learning that Parkinson has almost complete control over all public communication outside of regular customer service. I’m not sure, but I don’t think the clerical staff even records when an OPRA request comes in – stuff just gets passed right along to Parkinson. If you call and ask for anything more than the most basic information, you will be referred to Parkinson. Other people either don’t know the answers or appear to be under a gag order. Surely, professionals such as the manager or staff accountant have knowledge enough to respond to many questions, but they won’t, and the clerical staff will tell you as much. “You’ll have to speak to Mr. Parkinson,” they say.

One of the capital projects discussed at the meeting had to do with “digging out” manhole covers that had been buried under dirt, tar, or other material over the years. Some were covered during construction operations, some just by the accumulation of foliage. I asked if TOMSA was going to seek reimbursement from any parties whose work projects caused the manholes to be covered in the first place, like the County, the Township, or private contractors. I was thinking, in part, that there might be insurance liability coverage available. Parkinson replied that the projects were done 15 years ago and that TOMSA has no plans to seek recovery. He said that TOMSA now has its people stationed at work sites to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Fifteen years doesn’t strike me as all that long ago. TOMSA was formed in the 1960s, so they’ve been around long enough to have had procedures in place in the 1990s to ensure that manholes weren’t buried during construction projects and, if they were, to be informed and to remediate in a timely manner.

Because TOMSA won’t be seeking possible recovery from the at-fault parties, rate-payers will bear the cost. Even if this is a relatively small project for which TOMSA has money in its budget, it means there is less money for other projects or less surplus to offer the Township for tax relief.

More on manholes: An interesting revelation was made at the Planning Board meeting just this past Wednesday, December 14th. An engineer was making a presentation about infrastructure in and around the Bamm Hollow site, where 190 homes are to be built. He mentioned that the sewer system currently in place is overloaded to the point where sewerage is leaking out of manholes, and that TOMSA is currently sealing manholes to prevent the leakage.

I have to wonder, now, if some of the manholes to be uncovered as part of TOMSA’s “access recovery” project were sealed by TOMSA itself.

There was an update at the TOMSA Board meeting on the Monmouth County Improvement Authority’s solar project, in which TOMSA, the Township, and the Board of Education are participating. The MCIA received only one bid for 16.9 cents per kilowatt hour and the bid was rejected by the MCIA as too high. No word yet on the next move by the MCIA or any of the participants.

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Filed under Bamm Hollow redevelopment, blog post, budget adoption, Linda Baum, manhole covers, Middletown Planning Board, Middletown Sewerage Authority, OPRA requests, Patrick Parkinson, public hearing, TOMSA

It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 23-12/05/11

The Holiday season is upon us and in full swing which means that I have been a little busy over the past few days getting the house in order and my shopping taken care and wrapping, so I’ve been a little behind in my blogging.

Here is the latest issue of It’s Your Town Newsletter which covers the December 5 th Middletown Township Committee Workshop meeting. For those in attendance, it was a very short meeting lasting less than 30 minutes and seemed as a nuisances for those that represent the people of the township to be sitting there. Committeeman Settembrino never once pulled his nose away from his iPad, I witnessed him constantly tapping and scrolling between screens.

Committeeman Scharfenberger and CFO Nick Transente seemed equally engaged in their iPad and smart phone respectively speaking.
One of the few pieces of business that was discussed was an ordinance that was introduced to set a new salary structure for non-contractual employees, no discussion took place and it was moved by the Committee to be voted on at the December19 meeting.

Also a special meeting of the Township Committee was scheduled for Monday, December 12 to adopt a resolution to accept the vendor for the MCIA bid proposal that was to be awarded for the Township’s solar project. This meeting however was canceled later in the week without explanation.

Read the Newsletter …. Here

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Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Its Your Town, Kevin Settembrino, Middletown NJ, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Nick Transente, workshop meeting

Friday Morning Funnies: Puns for Educated Minds III

1. I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

2. A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: ‘Keep off the Grass.’

3. The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

4. The soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

5. A backward poet writes inverse.

6. In a democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.

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Filed under Friday Morning Funnies, Puns