Category Archives: budget meeting

>Public Hearing To Discuss Budget At Tonight’s Middletown Workshop Meeting

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One of the items on the agenda at tonight’s Middletown Township workshop meeting that will be held at Town Hall@ 8PM, will the public hearing on the 2011 proposed Township Budget that was introduced last month.
I am hoping to be at tonight’s meeting but I don’t know if can will make it. I am curious to know exaclty how much the SOA (Superiors Officers’ Association) and PBA union contract settlements have saved Middletown. I would like to know the cost to the Township per individual plan and per family plan of its cadillac employee health plan and then the same for the Township’s HMO employees health care plan, so that it can be figured out approximately how much the Township will be saving based on these settled contracts. It has been reported that if union members wish to remain in the Township’s health plan, members would have to contribute 25% of the cost, whereas if union members opt out of the cadillac plan into the HMO, members would contribute 1.5% of their salaries for health coverage. So it should be easy enough to figure out savings if the numbers are supplied.

Also based on details about the contracts and information released about the layoffs that effect the Department of Parks and Recreation, I believe several people have decided retired instead of being laid off. I am wondering how these retirements have affected the budget? Seeing how the Township is using $3.5M in surplus funds to pay off tax appeals this year instead of bonding for the funds, this budget is only holding $500K in reserve. These retirements are bound to eat into the remaining surplus which would leave the township dangerously close to running out of money by years end.

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Filed under budget hearing, budget meeting, budget surplus, HMO, layoffs, Middletown NJ, Middletown PBA, Middletown Police, Middletown Township Committee

>Opaqueness of Government Was Grenafege’s Point While Addressing Committee At Last Week’s Budget Adoption

>Last week I posted an piece of audio that featured an exchange between resident Jim Grenafege and mayor Gerard Scharfenberger that took place during the special budget adoption meeting Monday night September 7th. It was a rather heated exchange, but was a small segment of the overall address to the Township Committee made by Mr. Grenafege.

Grenafege addressed the issue of transparency in government which he called the “Opaqueness” of Middletown’s governing body.
He brought up the issue of early retirements and their effect on this years budget, he pointed out that the Township passed an ordinance last year that encouraged employees to take advantage of early retirements as a cost savings to the Township. By passing this ordinance the Township should have been able to do better job at planning for the rash of retirements sparked by Gov. Christie’s threat to change the State’s retirement system.
Grenafege brought up the issues of Tax Appeals.
It was stated that the township had to assume the full cost of the many tax appeals that were successfully approved against the town. Scharfenberger lamented that a portion of those appeals should have had to been paid by the Board of Education seeing that 60% of the overall property tax burden is attributed to the school system and not the Township.
Grenafege correctly pointed out that the Township owes $80M worth of debt to the school board in the form of deferred taxes, which the Township collects and uses to offset the municipal tax rate, and if the Township did a better job at planning a portion of that debt could have been put aside for the purpose of tax appeals.
After addressing health care costs and questioning the per capita costs ratio of employees to residents and how the $680 figure is derived that Scharfenberger loves to quote when talks about how fiscally conservative Middletown has been through the years, he moved on to the Middletown Sewage Authority and “Concerts in the Park”.
The Township has often said that the concerts are fully funded by corporate sponsors with no taxpayer dollars supporting them. Grenafege pointed out that at least one of these concerts were sponsored by the Middletown Library System, which was therefore, in fact funded indirectly by Middletown taxpayers.
Listen to the audio, it was a fascinating exchange that I am sure will keep you listening until the end of the 12 minute give and take between Jim Grenafege and the those on the Township Committee. The exchange between them is exactly what open government is all about and what needs to happen more often at Township meetings

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Filed under budget meeting, Jim Grenafege, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, tax appeals

>It Was Grenafege Vs. Scharfenberger In A Heated Exchange During Budget Meeting

>One of the more lively exchanges that took place during Tuesday night’s budget adoption meeting in Middletown, was the heated words that flew around the court house between resident Jim Grenafege and mayor Scharfenberger.

There has been bad-blood between the two that dates back to 2008 when Jim Grenafege ran on the Democratic ticket for a seat on the Middletown Township Committee.

Durning that campaign Scharfenberger, who is a part-time adjunct professor at Monmouth Univeristy, was caught using the Monmouth University’s email system to send out false and misleading campaign information about Grenafege and his running mate to Republicans and their supporters in Middletown.

Scharfenberger’s ethical lapse nearly cost Monmouth University its IRS tax exempt status and was in clear violation of Monmouth University’s Guidelines for Political Activity.

To this day it isn’t exactly clear what disciplinary actions, if any, Monmouth University took against Scharfenberger. And since this time, whenever Jim Grenafege stands in front of the Township Committee to address a concern that troubles him mayor Scharfenberger usually looks away and ignores him, that was until Tuesday night.
Dustin Racippio from the website RedBankGreen.com caught the exchange and wrote about in his column:
“…Frustration mounted when resident Jim Grenafage, a meeting regular, criticized the committee for lacking transparency — a common complaint at the meeting — and accused it of withholding information from committeeman Sean Byrnes, the body’s lone Democrat.

Scharfenberger, clearly chafed by the “heavy accusation,” uncharacteristically let his frustration show, and got into a back-and-forth of raised voices and finger pointing with Grenafage.

“There’s much more of an effort to keep things opaque than to bring transparency to the town,” Grenafage said….”


If you would like to listen to it for yourself I have the audio posted below. I hope to have an expanded sound bite soon of the exchange because much of what is not captured in this piece of audio was very insightful and at some point should be looked into.

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

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Filed under budget meeting, code of ethics, Gerry Scharfenberger, IRS Tax Exemption, Jim Grenafege, Monmouth University, RedBankGreen.com

>Tuesday’s Budget Approval Meeting In Middletown Designed To Limit Debate and Questions From The Public

>This coming Tuesday night Sept. 7th at 6pm, Middletown will finally adopt it’s 2010 Municipal budget. The budget will be 9 months late contain an 11.79 % tax increase to the municipal tax rate.

The regularly schedule meeting of Middletown Township Committee, which is open to the public, will not start until 8pm. This meeting will be preceded by an Executive session meeting at 7pm, which means that if the residents or members of the public wish to attend both the budget meeting and the regular meeting they will have to hang out for at least an hour in between, from 7-8pm, until the Executive session meeting is concluded.

This type of scheduling puts an undue burden on the members of the public that would like to attend both meetings.

The early meeting time to adopt the budget was requested at last Monday’s special meeting that was held during a power outage that left many residents stuck on the road unable to navigate the streets or stuck in their homes waiting for some kind of relief, by our ‘very open’ mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger.

If possible, I would encourage interested residents to try and make both public meetings, but if they can’t, they should at the very least express their dissatisfaction with Scharfenberger and in the scheduling time of these meetings by calling Town Hall @ 732-615-2015.

As I see it, there is no reason that the budget adoption meeting could not be held at the same time as the regular meeting. The Budget Adoption Resolution is only one resolution that needs to be voted on. The public can speak on it before it is voted on like other resolutions or ordinances that are offered up for comments before approval or adoption.

As it stands now, there is no discussion planned to review the changes that this amendment will make, nor are there any discussion planned as to what took place in Trenton on August 26th, that allowed Middletown to exceed a State budget cap of 4%.

There will be no discussion on anything unless the public comes forward and demands it.

You can read the Agenda for Tuesday’s Budget Adoption/Workshop Meeting >>> Here

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Filed under 4% budget cap, budget meeting, budget resolution, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, resolutions and ordinances

Middletown Cancels Budget Introduction For Wednesday Night

Well that didn’t take long, I guess the Middletown Municipal Budget wasn’t ready for introduction after all! Or was it because I let the potential budget increase out of the bag? Or was it a simple scheduling conflict that would not enable most of the Township Committee members themselves from being at tomorrow’s meeting? I doubt we’ll find out for sure.
But posted late this afternoon, just before the close of business, on Middletown’s website is this simple note concerning the cancellation of tomorrow nights special budget introduction meeting:
The special meeting that was sheduled for June 2nd has been cancelled.

One has to wonder why this meeting was called for then cancelled so suddenly? If the reason for the cancellation was that it wasn’t possible to have a quorum present in the first place then why make the initial announcement? Didn’t the Township Administrator, Tony Mercantenate, find out if committee members could be present before making the plans for the meeting public?
Or, maybe the meeting was cancelled because of the potential 15% tax increase which seems to be needed in order to close the $5 million budget gap that the leaders of Middletown have done absolutely nothing thus far to close with only 6 months left in the year in which to do it? And just maybe the mayor is upset with Mercantante for scheduling this meeting six day before the June 8th Primary, when he will be challenged for his party’s nomination by Lincroft resident Tony Avallone. Why would the acting mayor want to announce any kind of budget that could potentially include a massive tax increase just before an election anyway?
If this special budget meeting is rescheduled, look for it to be happen sometime within the next two weeks due to the deadline that Trenton has imposed on municipalities to have their budgets ready by. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if this meeting doesn’t happen however because of the fact that this month’s regularly scheduled meetings happen on the 7th and 21st. The introduction of the budget resolution could be done at either of those meetings.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what tricks Gerry and the boys have up their sleeves later this month and hope that CFO Nick Trasente can pull a couple of million dollars out of the Township’s hat.



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Filed under budget deficit, budget meeting, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middeltown Township, Nick Trasente, tax increase, Tony Mercantante, township budget

Middletown To Introduce Budget Wednesday; Is A 15% Tax Increase Possible?

According to Middletown Township’s website the Township Committee will hold a special meeting on June 2, 2010 at 7 p.m for the purpose of introducing the 2010 Municipal, Utility and Solid Waste Budgets. The meeting will be held at the Middletown Arts Center, 36 Church Street, Middletown.

I am not making this up, I hear that the Municipal Budget looks pretty ugly and could contain a possible tax increase of 15% or more. But don’t fret just yet, there is also a good possibility that the meeting will be postponed due to scheduling conflicts amongst committee members, a quorum may not be possible for Wednesday night.

But if the meeting does go on as scheduled, how could Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger and Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore even consider voting to introduce a budget with such a tax increase?
After all of his posturing and grandstanding about Governor Christie and his “Tool Box” while attempting to follow the lead of the governor by demonizing Middeltown’s teachers and cutting the already defeated Board of Education budget by an additional $2 million dollars, after $11 million had already been stripped away from it by the governor, Scharfenberger would be foolish to think that residents would ever take him serious again on budget issues.
If this budget is introduced as is, the Middletown GOP will finally be seen as the tax and spenders that they really are. Remember last year Gerry and his friends raised the tax rate by 5.2% which pushed the tax rate up 16% over the past 4 years, can Middletown afford that kind of tax increase in just one year? I think not!
If this 15% figure is true (which it could be true due to the $5 million budget defect that exists) then Scharfenberger, Township Administrator Tony Mercantante and our new CFO Nick Transente will have some explaining to do and will have to come up with some very good answers as to why they weren’t able to keep the increase close to Christie’s proposed budget cap.

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Filed under Arts Center, budget deficit, budget meeting, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Township Committee, municipal tax rates, Nick Transente, Tony Mercantante

Vincent Solomeno for Freeholder: My statement from the hearing: Why I oppose the Monmouth County budget.


Vincent Solomeno, Candidate For Monmouth County Freeholder, attended the March 9th 2010 public hearing on the proposed Monmouth County Budget at the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth County Library in Shrewsbury.

Solomeno read into the record the following statement as to why he opposes the proposed budget that the Freeholders have offer-up. The statement can also be found at his facebook site:

Good evening, my name is Vincent Solomeno, and I’m a property taxpayer from Hazlet. I first want to thank the professional staff for the time spent preparing this budget proposal.

That said, members of the Board, it is my hope that you reject this proposal. Monmouth County residents simply can’t afford this level of spending. It’s time to go back to the drawing board and produce a budget with significant savings.

This is no normal time—the worst economy in generations. Clearly, the status quo is unacceptable.

Yet as I read the budget proposal, a number of areas go unaddressed—areas that if cut can result in significant savings for taxpayers. Unfortunately, this budget is more of the same, when that’s exactly what we can’t afford.

This budget does not consider the potential savings of combining the purchasing departments of the county and the parks system—a redundancy which costs taxpayers money.

This budget does not consider the savings to be had by combining our two motor pools.

And at a time when many private-sector workers are seeing their salaries cut or their wages frozen, this budget does not consider the savings to be had by freezing the salaries of non-contractual personnel earning over $100,000.

The important question I hear from my neighbors is, “Why?”

Why doesn’t this budget end the practice of awarding no-bid contracts for professional services? Doing so would increase efficiency, guarantee transparency, and save taxpayer dollars.

Why doesn’t this budget honor the intent of the cap law? Monmouth County families know it’s time to do more with less. You wouldn’t hand a credit card to a shopaholic, so why, in these economic times, should the county spend significantly above the cap, when all it means for residents is higher taxes and more spending?

I understand the enormity of the task before you. We may disagree over specific priorities, but we all know—just like Monmouth county families know—that in this time of stagnating wages, layoffs, and rising property taxes, it’s time to make tough choices.

This budget doesn’t make those tough choices. We don’t live in a fairy tale, and we can’t wish our problems away. We simply can’t afford tax increases year after year. Enough is enough.

Monmouth County families are struggling. We owe it to them to cut this bloated budget and bring them real property tax relief. I hope you have the courage to do just that.


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Filed under budget meeting, Democratic Candidate, Facebook, Hazlet, Monmouth County Freeholder Candidate, Vincent Solomeno