Category Archives: Bob Roth

Tony "the Fibber" Fiore Suggests That The Only Place Left In Budget To Cut Is Police For Savings

Last week Middletown special financial consultant Bob Roth re-introduced the FY 2009 budget to the Township Committee. The budget, which seems as though it was put together by the use of smoke and a mirror will be voted on and approved tonight.

The budget relays on 1 shot gimmicks such as reducing the surplus reserve for uncollected taxes and deferring a portion of the townships pension obligation, so instead of a 9.2% tax increase that was proposed back in April the new tax increase to the municipal rate will be 5.8%, and we have the State to thank for it.

After months of telling the public how hard and how tirelessly they were working on the budget, meeting department heads over and over again to ensure that their budgets fell in line with township priorities, the Republicans on the Township Committee lead by Mayor Brightbill and Deputy Mayor Scharfenberger left the decision making to the state because they could not find any budget cuts or savings themselves!

The junior Committeeman, Republican Tony ”the Fibber” Fiore went as far as saying that the only area in the budget left open to the Committee in which to cut costs, was emergency services and to lay-off or furlough police officers and staff.

What a stupid thing to say!!

How could you possible say that the only place left in the budget in which to cut costs would be to trim the police department? Fiore’s statement from the dais last week was not only a head shaker, but also an outrageously gross attempt to place blame on others for the Republican’s failures to produce a budget that was inline with the realities of the day.

There were and are numerous areas and line items throughout the FY 2009 budget that could have been cut or trimmed in order to lessen the financial impact on residents if the Republicans truly wished.

Fiore, for all of his efforts and work that he put into the budget could not even implement any of his infamous ideas from the 8-point plan that he introduced back on February 2nd. Other than the suspension of the township committee’s yearly stipend, none of his ideas listed below were worthy enough for consideration:

1. Suspend the entire Township Committee’s salaries.
2. Freeze all non-essential hiring not required by law.
3. Freeze all union and non-union salaries.
4. Evaluate all non-essential, non-revenue generating programs for elimination.
5. Seek out additional shared service arrangements.
6. Sell surplus township property and assets.
7. Eliminate all non-essential Township subscriptions and dues payments.
8. Eliminate all conference and travel expenses unless required by law for continuing education requirements.

Now, how can someone have the nerve to sit in front of others and say with a straight face that the only remaining area in the budget in which to cut or reduce would be police manpower? Were the other 7 out of 8 recommendations that Tony Fiore proposed deemed to essential by his fellow Republicans and therefore taken off the table?

I have a several budget savings ideas, in no particular order, that I would like to recommend to Tony Fiore and his Republican colleagues to consider before the next time they infer that the only option left open to the Township Committee is to cut the budget by reducing the size of Middletown’s police force:

1. Privatize the Cultural Arts Center or change its mission to allow for-profit organizations to rent and utilize the building.
2. Reduce the number of township supplied employee cars.
3. Reduce the operating hours for the Kanes lane recycling facility.
4. Privatize a portion of public works.
5. Fund Middletown Matters by sell advertisments instead of by tax payer dollars.
6. Consolidating purchases, printing and advertising.

Based on the horrible outcome of this year’s budget process to the residents of Middletown, it is essential that the Township Committee establish a Budget/Finance Committee that would interact with township personnel well before the end of the calendar year and make specific recommendations to the Township Committee on budget matters. To leave important budget issues up to the State, like was done with this years budget, is irresponsible.

And to suggest that the only option left to the Committee to reduce spending is to lay-off township police officers, is just plain stupid.

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Filed under Bob Roth, Budget, Finance Committee, Gerry Scharfenberger, Lay offs, Middletown, Pamela Brightbill, staff reductions, tax increase, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

With Middletown Budget Now Re-Introduced, CFO Richard Wright Resigns

Now that the proposed FY 2009 Middletown budget has be amended and re-introduced to residents by former CFO Bob Roth, who the township committee hired on May 18 as a consultant, to assist the township as it prepared its 2009 budget after Township CFO Richard Wright went on sick leave, comes word that Richard Wright has officially handed in his resignation.

Wright developed a mystery illness shortly after informing the Township Committee that he had made a clerical error which resulted in a $2.4 million hole in the budget back in early May, after it was introduced on April 20th and has been on sick leave ever since.

In earlier posts on the Middletown budget, I had stated that Richard Wright would never come back to work because in actuality the man was not sick and that in fact he had been fired.

The Republicans that control the township committee made a face saving deal with Wright, they constructed a story that had Wright coming down with some serious and somewhat chronic condition, which prohibited him from performing his duties as CFO and a had him take time off as sick leave, until a sufficiant about of time had passed (several weeks and the township budget re-presented) in which then would hand in his resignation.

The one thing that I have to say about this situations is this, for once the republicans in charges, in my opinion did something right and did not throw the man under the bus. From all accounts Richard Wright was a decent and likable guy who did a good and capable job. However, what got him in trouble with his bosses at times was his honesty at answering questions, he was too honest and clearly not practiced enough in the political ways of the Middeltown GOP.

After all this I hope that he lands on his feet and I wish him well in his future endeavors.

You can read the official version of his resignation HERE from the Asbury Park Press.

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Filed under Bob Roth, Budget, Cheif Financial Officer, Middletown, resignation, Richard Wright

A Quick Synopsis Of The Middletown Budget Mess

Last night Middletown re-introduced the FY 2009 budget and to summed up in very plain and simple language, it is a MESS !!

The budget has been put together by the use of smoke and mirrors – no cost reductions or spending cuts of any kind to speak of.

Here is a quick synopsis of last nights meeting, I’ll have more to say and discuss over the next few days once i have sufficient time to review my audio recordings of the meeting:

Contrary to previous reports Bob Roth really did not find any hidden monies, when he presented the budget to the local finance board in Trenton, the state told Middletown that they could reduce the amount of reserve for unpaid taxes to the state mandated minimum which saved the township $1.2M.

Next week there will be another ordinance to be voted on by the township committee that will take another reserve fund, that has been laying around since 2006, and put it into the budget for another $399k 1 shot revenue gimmick .

The “tireless ” hunting for savings that the Majority search for resulted in a few minor reductions and few increases in line items throughout.

I have to hand it to Bob Roth, after over 20 years of being CFO, he really knows his stuff. the man had explanations for everything that was brought up, but overall there were no real cost savings in this budget, just the 1 shot use of surpluses that were moved into the budget.

Now that Middletown has used these 1 shot gimmicks, there will be no substantial reserves to work with next year. It will be interesting to see how that will work.

The bottom line is this, even after the use of the surpluses it did not save the township from a significant
tax increase of 5.8%. And by deferring payment of half of Middletown’s pension obligations of $600K, which was a requirement by the state to qualify for the cap wavier, it will cost Middletown an additional 4% interest over the next 12 years on that deferral.
Where is the saving there? If Middletown did a better job at managing it’s finances and did not need to seek a cap waiver, Middletown would not have to defer payments it’s pension obligations.
This is just another case of mismanagement of the towns finances by the majority of the Committee and really gives credence to Sean Byrnes request to establish and head a Finance committee.
Tony Fiore came out to say that real cuts to the budget would have meant reducing police staff and other essential services that he would have been unwilling to make, which is utter nonsense! There are other areas in which to cut like travel, magazines,office supplies, utility costs at the Arts Center, Parks and Rec, Middletown Matters, the possibilities are endless if he and the majority were willing end the cronyism and patronage that they practice.
What this budget shows me is a total lack of leadership by the Republican majority who were and are, unwilling to make hard and necessary choices.
What this budget really does is it pushes harder decisions off until next year, it creates a huge hole in next years budget due to the fact that there is no surpluses left to raid.
How much will it cost us then ?

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Filed under Bob Roth, Budget, cap wavier, Finance Committee, Middletown, Middletown Republicans, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase, Tony"the fibber"Fiore

Update; Middletown Day 183 Without A Budget: Budget Meeting Scheduled

I have just received word that Middletown’s current budget fiasco may soon be over.

The Township Clerk has sent out a notice via email that The Township Committee will be holding a public hearing and vote on the Calender Year Budget for 2009 on Monday July 13th. The meeting will be in the court room and will begin at 7pm.

One of the more interesting pieces of information that I have heard concerning the budget today is that former Township CFO Bob Roth, who was brought in by the township to look over the budget mess left behind by Richard Wright has been that Roth has been digging through old bond issues looking for left over monies.

One such bond was issued in 2006, it provided a reserve for possible tax appeals. It has been languishing all these years unused or forgotten about.
Bob Roth was Township CFO for nearly 20 years before Richard Wright took over last year, it had been said about Roth that he was the most logical person to have look at the township’s books during this time of budgetary crisis because he would know “Where the bodies were buried“.
Well evidently he found at least 1 skeleton during his digging, the bond from 2006 that he uncovered is worth about $600,000 and when it is added the $85,000 worth of budget cuts that Wright identified earlier this year, you now have about $720,000 to go towards the $2.4 million budget shortfall.
This one shot windfall still leaves a gaping hole to of $1.68 million to plug and means that Middletown will still be looking at a tax increase of over 6% to close it.
Layoffs and furloughs may be looming as I stated in a earlier post.
Keep in mind that the Republican majority in Middletown have acted as though they were unconscious of current economic realities that effect our state and country and that Committeeman Pat Short began to demand budget action back in January.

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Filed under Bob Roth, Budget, Budget Shortfall, Middletown, Patrick Short, Richard Wright

Middletown: Day 182 Without A Budget

Today July 1, 2009 marks the 182 day of the year. It also happens to be the 182 day of the year that Middletown has operated without a budget.

When will Middletown adopt its budget? Rumor has it that later this month the Township Committee will be rescheduling the May 20th budget hearing that was cancelled due to the sudden illness (termination) of Township CFO Richard Wright.

After months of telling the Township Committee that the budget was on target, Wright informed the committee just before the May 20th meeting that he had miss-calculated and that he was missing $2 million dollars. It was then announced that Wright was taking a leave of absence due to health reasons.
Former Township CFO Bob Roth was brought in to fix the mess that Wright had made and because of this the public budget hearing had been postponed indefinitely.
From what I have heard, the budget hearing will be scheduled sometime before the regularly schedule Township Committee meeting on July 20th.
This year’s proposed budget includes a 9.2% tax increase to cover a budget shortfall of over $2.4 million.
I have also been informed that because of the lateness of this year’s budget, estimated tax bills are now in the mail and should start showing up in resident’s mailboxes later this week or early next week.
Believe me; if this budget is not adopted soon utter chaos will break loose when it does.
First of all, it is unlikely that Middletown will get a waiver from the State in order to exceed the state budget cap increase of 4%.
That means in order to balance the budget nearly $3 million or more would need to be cut from the budget during the last 5 months of the year.
Layoffs and service cuts are looming large over the horizon, if people complained loudly about last year’s leaf pick-up they haven’t seen anything yet! Wait until they can’t pay their taxes on time or get needed permits for home improvements.
The Republican majority really screwed up the budget this year. If only they would have listened to Committeeman Sean Byrnes and formed a budget committee, they would have seen and anticipated this problem long ago before this situation got out of hand.

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Filed under Bob Roth, Budget, Middletown, Richard Wright, Sean F. Byrnes

A Forensic Audit of The Books is Needed In Middletown

It is time for Middeltown to hire a non-partisan, outside accounting firm to do a complete and thorough forensic audit of the municipal budget.

Now I don’t know if this should be considered good news or bad news. I’ve been told by a person who works for the Township and wishes to remain anonymous because they are afraid of reprisal, that former township CFO Bob Roth, who has been temporarily retained by Middletown to take over for current CFO Richard Wright, who mysteriously had to take a leave of absence last month during a very critical time in the Township’s budget preparations, has miraculously found $2 million hidden within the townships books.

Richard Wright’s mystery illness has been speculated about for weeks now. People have questioned whether Wright is really sick or if he was fired by the township as incompetent for the way he handled himself during meetings and for the way he botched this year’s budget.

Wright had a problem with telling the truth when questioned in open meetings. He didn’t do a very good job deflecting probing questions from Patrick Short and Sean Brynes, the two Democrats that sit on the township committee as minority members, and this really frustrated and angered his Republican bosses. Wright had also been telling everyone that this year’s budget was right on schedule and with little surprises in store, a 9.2% tax increase to cover a $2.4 million shortfall which was proposed in April was expected.

However, early last month before the committee workshop meeting, Wright notified the Township Committee that he had screwed up and that over $2 million dollars was missing. It was after this revelation that Wright went missing and Patrick Short suggested retaining the services of former CFO Bob Roth.

Now what does all this mean? Quite frankly I am not sure as of yet because I have a few questions that I haven’t gotten answers to.

Does this mean that instead of the budget being short by more than $2.4 million it really isn’t? Does it mean that the proposed budget that was presented in April will not now need a 9.2% tax increase? And where did Bob Roth happen to find this hidden money, where did it come from?

It had been said of Roth, that it was no surprise that he found the missing fund because after all he was CFO for many years; he knows “were the bodies are buried”.

How much more money and missing funds can be discovered hidden with in the Township’s books? Could it be hundreds, thousands, or millions of dollars? Who knows, but it is time to find out!

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Filed under Bob Roth, Budget, forensic audit, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Richard Wright