Category Archives: budget planning

>Letter: Scharfenberger Is A Master Of Deception

>Mayor Scharfenberger is a master! He is a master of deception. He would have Middletown taxpayers believe that he has managed Middletown so well that he has only increased our taxes by 2.8 percent. If that were the case he would not have had to go to Trenton to answer to higher authorities when he surpassed the state cap on municipal budgets. Trenton placed a four percent cap on increases and Mayor Scharfenberger’s proposed budget was almost 14 percent. Does he really think we are so blind that we don’t know this? The final increase in the tax rate has gone from $0.35 to $0.3975 per $100 of assessed value. This is an increase of over 13 percent for the homeowner.

Mayor Scharfenberger’s deceptive tactics must end along with his tenure in office this year. Current Committeeman Sean Byrnes and his running mate Mary Mahoney stand for managing costs with tight controls on spending. They stand for improved planning that can reduce tax increases. They stand for cutting waste and inefficiency from township operations. They stand with homeowners, not supporting special interests. They stand with you and you should join me in supporting them.

Dora Crisafulli

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Filed under budget planning, Gerry Scharfenberger, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

>Video: Sean Byrnes on Planning for Budgets and Projects

>Middletown Township Committeeman Sean Byrnes discusses the Planning (or lack thereof) of Township budgets and projects that drive up the tax rate and cost local tax payers, at a Town Hall Meeting which took place at Panera Bread on September 27,2010

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Filed under bonding. Panera Bread, budget planning, Finance Committee, project planning, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase, town hall meeting

>Letter: Foresight could keep tax increases under control

>The following letter appears in this weeks edition of the Independent:

As township officials try to explain the reason for the latest round of tax increases, they refer to a few factors, one of which is the cost of snow removal during the winter of 2010. This explanation is disappointing and frustrating on several levels. The main responsibility of our budget planning committee is to have the foresight to plan for expenses that we know are going to vary from season to season. This means calculating an average budget target for yearly snow removal, which shields us from major shortfalls during the high swings. So, if snowfall in 2009 was light, and we hadn’t fully used the budgeted money for that line item, we could roll it over to 2010 and have some fiscal cushion when snowfall is heavier. Are we to assume if the winter of 2011 is mild, we’ll have a budget surplus and tax rates will decrease? I doubt it. Are we to assume that our budget planners simply approach snow removal in singleyear increments, rather than looking at well-known trends, and then hope for mild winters? It sounds like they do. While I can understand the reduction in state aid as a factor in the budget shortfall, I simply can’t buy into the rationale that property taxes are increasing 13 percent partly because we had a bad winter in 2010.

Township officials need to understand that the residents of Middletown are fearful about these soaring tax rates on two fronts. In the short term we’re wondering how much longer we can afford to live in a town where our monthly spending in property taxes is larger than our mortgage payments. That fact alone is stunning.

In the long term we’re wondering how we’ll ever find buyers for our homes that come with such staggering property tax rates. One of many things needed to get this mess under control is proper planning. I question how well that planning process is being executed when heavier than usual snowfall is cited in the list of factors for a double-digit tax increase.

Tim Geiselman


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Filed under budget planning, letter to the editor, Middletown, tax increase, the Independent

Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain: Scharfenberger "The Tax Man" Issues Middletown Tax Update

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain I say, it is simply a man who is desperate to save himself from the bitter truth and who has earned the title of the “Tax Man” by overseeing the rise in the municipal tax rate of 41.9% over the past 5 years(once the currently proposed Township budget is approved).

Over the past couple of days an email has been making its way through cyber-space, written by non other than Middletown’s appointed mayor, Gerry Scharfenberger. He is so desperate to inform the voting public that the pending municipal budget (which includes a 13.87% municipal tax increase) is the result of circumstances beyond his control, that some residents have received it 3 or 4 times.

In the email Scharfy states that “Some of the information I have heard from folks around town is based on very false and misleading data”, and that he has “…put together a fact sheet to give people the reality of all things associated with the 2010 budget…”

After reading his email, I found it somewhat lacking in true facts and misleading in it’s own right. So, what I have done is to post Gerry Scharfenberger’s email below, broken down with comments in blue, to counter some of what he attempts to “clear up” and to show that the reason for Middletown’s massive tax increases over the past 5 years is due to his poor leadership and overall mismanagement:

By Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger

The Middletown budget has been the subject of quite a bit of discussion lately. Some of the information I have heard from folks around town is based on very false and misleading data. To try and clear things up, I thought I would put together a fact sheet to give people the reality of all things associated with the 2010 budget, as well as the situation at the state level. As always, if you have any further questions or need additional information, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, please look over the attached FAQs – they are quite sobering.
Here are the facts:

– the proposed municipal tax increase is 2.8% which means the municipal increase on a $5000 tax bill will be $140 per year, a $10,000 tax bill will be $280 per year and so on. This will go down prior to adoption, thanks to legislation the governor has signed that will allow us to make additional cuts.

The OVERALL tax increase is 2.8%. This includes the BOE and County taxes. The Township tax rate has increased 13.87% over last year. The amount raised from property taxes is depicted in the following chart. These numbers came from Township budgets or were reported in Middletown Matters.

If the Governor has allowed the Township to make additional cuts, why are they not made NOW so the budget could be reduced further?

– 98% of all of the municipalities in the state had to do estimated tax bills this year. This is due to the state budget and the uncertainty of state aid to the municipalities.

There is no uncertainty of State aid to the municipalities. The Mayor specifically lists the amount of State aid that was cut this year below at $1,564,911. The Township knows the amount of State aid it will receive. How can a budget be proposed is there is uncertainty in the amount of aid to be received?

– it is a mistake to multiply the third quarter estimated tax bill by four – THAT IS NOT THE PROPERTY TAXES FOR THE YEAR! When people get their fourth quarter bill, that will be accurate and will also be much lower than the third quarter bill.

The 4th quarter tax bill (just before the election) will be more accurate because the Township is meeting with the Local Finance Board, in Trenton today (8-10-2010) to find out just how much the Township can exceed the State cap of 4%.

– Middletown has one of the lowest tax rates in the region. While we are currently at 35 cents, Fair Haven, for example, is almost 49 cents and Little Silver is over 50 cents.

The tax rate is one of lowest in the area, but other towns’ tax rate has no bearing on what the tax rate in Middletown should be. A big reason why the tax rate has increased almost 14% this year is because the Township came up short $5.5M last year and it had to borrow money from the 2010 budget to make up the difference. This is shown in the chart above as the difference in the amount of money raised by taxes between 2010 and 2009.

– Middletown has one of the lowest worker per capita in the state (305 for 70,000 residents and 41.4 square miles) and one of the lowest spending per capita (around $880 per person).

Middletown might have the lowest worker per capita, but how other towns manage there resources are different from town to town. Plus, what other towns do with these resources should have no bearing on how Middletown uses the resources that are employed.

Below are some of the drivers of the budget and how we’ve addressed them. Get rid of binding arbitration, civil service and unions and we could really do some cutting. For now, we are legally prohibited from doing what is really needed to make deep, significant cuts.

If Middletown can’t legally make the cuts it wants to, they should plan to manage the resources on hand better. You just don’t throw up your hands and say we can’t legally do something.

While there were many factors that contributed to this year’s budget problems, the main ones were:

$1,564,911 loss in 2010 state aid. This loss comes after a $640,000 reduction in 2008, $184,000 in 2009.

Why rely on State aid to begin with? The Township should budget for no State aid and if the State should provide some type of aid, then it should be used in the following years’ budget. Notice the amount of State aid for this year compared to last 2 years. Last year the loss of State aid was touted, by Mr. Scharfenberger, as the worst thing that could happen. This year the Mr. Scharfenberger says that the Governor is doing the right thing.

$1.4 million for prior year’s salary increases from resolved labor contracts;

When a municipality goes into labor negotiations, it should anticipate an increase an budget accordingly. This was not done, obviously. What was management thinking, that the unions were not going to demand some type of increase?

$1 million increase in health care costs,

CFO, Nick Trasente, increased theses costs because the Township came up short the past 2 years. He is just doing some PLANNING to avoid future shortfalls.

$900,000 for snow and rain storms clean up,

This is a legitimate and unexpected expense.

$900,000 for unexpected retirements. Cost includes payments for unused sick and vacation time.

When the new Governor was elected, he said that there would be changes in the retirement rules. It might have been a little late in the year, but some planning could have been done to ease the shortfall. There will be many more retirements to come this year.

$1.8 million increase in pension payments mandated by the state.

Middletown knew that pension payments would have to be made this year. Middletown was told to defer last years’ payment in order to exceed the 4% State cap.

$400,000 loss in recycling revenues

The Green Initiative, started years ago by Mr. Scharfenberger, should have planned for additional recycling efforts. This has only come to pass because the State and County have implemented plans to include all paper and cardboard as part of the recycling plans. Middletown should have been a leader in this since there was a “Green Initiative” in place.

To address these, the Township Committee instituted:

40 staff/position reductions since January 1, 2010.

A total of 16 employees were layed off this year. The other 24 are people retiring because of the change in the Governors’ policy.

A 15% reduction in 2010 department funding requests.

Each department submits a “wish list” budget every year. This is reviewed the day after the election, in November. The Township Committee told the departments to cut it 15%. At that point they should have reviewed the requests and made real cuts.

Purchasing natural gas and electricity as part of a collective of 119 government entities known as the New Jersey Sustainable Energy Joint Meeting (NJSEM) instead of from the utility company. The move is slated to save approximately $160,000 this year.

This is a good measure and should be encouraged every year. Buying in bulk is almost always less expensive.

Funding the 2010 Summer Concert Series with community and business sponsors.

Sponsors for all events should be sought after. Even our Library Conservancy sponsored a concert. Do these sponsors fund the police, stage rentals, shuttle buses, etc…?

Canceling Middletown Day unless sufficient private sponsorship is found.

The concerts were going to be cancelled if sponsors were not found, too. Sponsors have funded much of Middletown Day in the past.

Closing the township’s skateboard park and mini-golf course.

The skateboard park is closed and the supervision that was on site removed. The children are still skateboarding, though.

Closing the Police Department’s Community Relations Bureau and suspending the DARE program.

This is just what the community needs; less police relations. This will only lead to an increase in crime, thus increasing the relations that the police will have with the community only in a negative manner.

Limiting lifeguards on municipal beaches to weekends only.

A lifeguard should be present if the beach is open. We wouldn’t want someone to get swept out to sea from one of those rip currents.

Continued limitation of overtime for non-essential personnel without approval of the Township Administrator.

All non-essential overtime should be eliminated. If it is not essential why is it needed? This should be a part of good management.


Filed under budget planning, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, municipal tax rates, Nick Trasente, tax increase


Before the beginning of last night’s Middletown Township Committee meeting the following statement from Committeeman Sean Byrnes’ was passed out to members of the press and other attendees of the meeting which addressed his feelings and thoughts about this years budget and the process that produced it:

The Middletown Township Committee will hold a hearing tonight on the proposed municipal budget for 2010. The proposed budget calls for almost a 14% increase in the municipal portion of the tax levy in Middletown. Despite the fact that the current financial downturn started in 2008, the Township Committee has taken no dramatic steps to offset a tide of revenue reductions and expense escalations that will now produce a spike in the tax levy imposed upon Middletown residents. Tonight’s meeting will be the first public meeting dedicated to the 2010 budget, even though Middletown is now 7 months into its 2010 budget year. This budget will not be approved until mid-August, since there is a waiver application to the Local Finance Board on the Township’s tax levy cap that must be approved before the budget can be approved.

To appreciate the degree to which Middletown has ignored this crisis, it is worth studying what happened in 2009 and what Middletown’s elected officials knew in 2009:

  1. In 2009, Middletown deferred pension contributions to avoid a $1.5M expense. This temporary gimmick, that the acting CFO (and former CFO of Middletown for many years) called a “fiscally foolish decision”, meant that Middletown started 2010 with a budget base that did not include that expense. In other words, we temporarily avoided an inevitable expense. Moreover, the contribution in 2010 is approximately $1.9M. Bottom line, $1.9M shortfall in pension contributions to start 2010.
  2. Middletown had to borrow $800,000 in December 2009 from its 2010 budget to pay 2009 expenses. Thus, to start 2010, we knew we were $800,000 in the hole.
  3. On the agenda for tonight’s budget hearing is a resolution to bond to pay tax appeal settlements in excess of $2.0M. The Township Committee knew as of mid-2009 that this obligation would be coming due.
  4. The 2009 Deferral of pension contributions must be paid back (with interest) over 5 years starting in 2012.
  5. The appropriation for health care expenses in 2008 resulted in a $500,000 emergency appropriation. In 2009, this account was almost $1,000,000 short (that’s why you had to borrow the $800,000 from 2010). So unless there was a decrease in health care expenses (which we know there never is), Middletown needed to come up with $1,000,000 in 2010 to offset this shortfall.
  6. Middletown had 3 emergency appropriations in 2010; it’s neighboring towns had none.
  7. In 2009, Middletown used $400,000 in revenue from an old tax appeal appropriation that was never used, but this was a one-time event, not to be repeated, meaning that we needed to come up with new revenues of $400,000 in 2010 to offset this loss.
  8. Middletown knew that there were outstanding collective bargaining agreements that would result in increases for prior years that would generate several hundred thousand dollars in additional cost.
  9. Middletown also knew that police officers had slowed their ticket writing costing the Township several hundred thousand dollars in revenues.
  10. By February 2010, Middletown knew that snow plowing costs might well exceed what was appropriated.

Despite these unprecedented events, the Township failed to act. In mid-December 2009, Committeeman Byrnes warned in a press release that we were facing a $5.0M shortfall and that we needed revised spending plan. The tax levy increase in the proposed 2010 budget is $5.0M. We still have not had a public meeting to discuss the budget.

Although the 13% increase is bad enough, the situation is actually worse. The proposed 2010 budget includes over $1,000,000 in one-time revenue that will disappear in 2011. We also have no mechanism in place to estimate the increasing burden that retirees place on our health care costs. Indeed, Committeeman Byrnes suspects that the big jumps in the last few years are due in part to retiree health care expenses. We have also reduced our surplus to almost nothing over the last few years. We are living on borrowed time. Governor Christie’s tool kit will help, but it is not a magic bullet. More important, we must have a plan for how to use the tools.
The majority of the Township Committee has yet to come to grips with the financial reality facing New Jersey municipalities. The cuts that must be made will be severe and will change the nature of the services delivered by all municipalities. They will eliminate many discretionary programs and focus our efforts on the core governmental services that must be provided to citizens. Until we accept that fact, taxes will continue to rise beyond what our citizens can afford.

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Filed under budget introduction, budget planning, Middletown Township Committee, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

Byrnes: 2% Cap Place Ball Squarely in Muncipalities’ Court

” The 2% cap is a good thing. It places real restrictions on municipal tax increases by capping additional tax levies year to year at 2%. But make no mistake, this law places the onus for tax relief on municipalities…The time to start planning for this cap is now…”Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes – Middletown Township Committee

This latest blog entry by Middletown’s Sean Byrnes takes on the proposed 2% cap on property taxes that is now making it’s way through the Legislature and how it will effect municipal budgets, particularly Middletown’s. He states that the time to start planning for the 2% cap is now, not next year, while waiting to see how much aid will be coming from the state.
Below is from his Mobilize Middletown blog that was posted late last night:
The 2% cap is a good thing. It places real restrictions on municipal tax increases by capping additional tax levies year to year at 2%. But make no mistake, this law places the onus for tax relief on municipalities. The Governor’s “tool chest” promises to make that job easier, but the job of cutting spending rests with the towns. The Governor and Assembly have sent a clear message that most of the hard work of saving tax dollars will take place at the local level. Given that reality, we need to prepare for the difficult work ahead.

To be clear, we operate under a 4% cap now, but there are numerous exceptions that make the existing cap toothless. The new law has just a few exceptions and will leave municipalities with little wiggle room. In any given year, if you have a category of spending (e.g. fuel costs) that increases by more than 2%, you will need need to cut spending elsewhere to offset that increase. Many municipalities, including Middletown, have not had the discipline to operate within a cap. Last year, against my vote, we applied for a waiver of the cap. We voted to defer our pension contributions (which will need to be repaid with interest over a term that starts in 2012), and by year’s end, we needed to borrow $800,000 from 2010 to pay 2009 expenses. This type of reckless spending must end.

The time to start planning for this cap is now. One of the biggest problems with the budget process in Middletown has been our failure to start the process until well into the fiscal year. This year has been no different. It is July, and we have not held a single public meeting to discuss our budget or how we should cut spending. Clearly, at this point, any annual savings to be achieved from budget cutting measures will only be 50% effective, since half the funds have been spent by now. The perennial excuse is that we don’t know exactly how much money we’re getting until the State gives us our revenue numbers several months into the year. The problem with that line of thinking is that it assumes we cannot make cuts until we know how much money we have. Obviously, uncertainly over our final revenue numbers does not stop us from planning layoff, furloughs, reductions in service, etc. We have waited too long, and we cannot afford to make that mistake again.

We should start working on the 2011 budget now. We need to assume that Governor Christie’s tool kit will pass. We should assess that tools that will be available to us, and we should start planning on how to use them. There will be difficult, contentious debates when it comes to jobs and benefits. We may need to reconsider our status as a civil service town. Our negotiating stance with Unions will toughen as the specter of mandatory arbitration is removed.

But even with these additional measures made available to us, a thorough, regular process for evaluating our services and the programs we deliver needs to be followed. Currently, we have no mechanisms or structure to ensure efficient execution of budget-cutting ideas and recommendations. No finance or budget committee. Without a more robust governance structure to engage in the work of following through on some of these budget-cutting ideas, we will never see their fruition. Some ideas that have been discussed but not yet implemented include: combining the maintenance functions in the Parks Department and Public Works Department, sharing maintenance functions with the Board of Education, outsourcing leaf and brush pickup, one day per week garbage pickup, and tougher enforcement of recycling laws. There are more suggestions, but no real process for implementing them. So, as we consider how we might use the Governor’s tools, let’s also put in place the committees and people to help us use the tools to their full measure.

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Filed under budget planning, Middletown Township Committee, Mobilize Middletown, Sean F. Byrnes, tax cap

Letter: Scharfenberger’s Budget "Plan" Isn’t Working

The Middletown Township Committee introduced a budget recently that results in an almost 13 present increase in property taxes. This is outrageous given the fact that there are many towns that have controlled their spending and see minimal increases, if none at all.

One could ask how this can happen in these times. A good response would be that there is a mayor that insists that he can handle the budget process. Mr. Scharfenberger began this fiscal year, in January, stating that he does the budget by osmosis. When there was a call to develop a plan to deal with the increasing costs and the reality of including costs from the previous year, Mr. Scharfenberger simply said that he already had a plan.

The mayor’s plan is to rely on everyone else to bail him out. If that does not happen he will just blame others, as he consistently does when things do not go the way he expects. It is time to rid Middletown of this type of thinking for it is not putting the taxpayer first. People need to realize that the current system that has been in place for over 25 years is not working.

Dora Crisafulli


Filed under budget planning, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township, property taxes


A reader sent along the following comment, it was too good to bury in the comments section so I’m posting it here on the main page for everyone read:

We may be the biggest small town in New Jersey, but we now hold a far more dubious distinction. The town with the highest tax increase in the State. When Gerry Scharfenberger proposed his budget Monday night it included a staggering 13.9% increase. When I hear Chris Christie talking about a 2.5% cap I really have to laugh, because his lapdog, Gerry (who was meeting with him the next day) is proposing a budget increase over 5 times that amount. Is this something Christie is going to let his local finance board approve? He said NO, but I really wonder what he will do for his pal Gerry.

One has to wonder why Scharfenberger, Fiore, Massell, and Brightbill support this budget? They all ran on platforms saying they would lower taxes and now they approve the highest tax increase in the state. At the meeting they claimed it was beyond their control. If that’s the case then they should resign so we can have committee member who will really work to control our taxes.

Is it any wonder why Sean Brynes and the rest of the town is clamoring for a Finance Committee? With a tax increase 0f 13.9% we need outsiders looking at this budget. The insiders certainly don’t understand that we can’t afford their budget plans.

Do you agree? It sounds about right to me.


Filed under budget planning, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Middletown, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase

Leaders Lead Gerry or They Get Out Of The Way; Now’s The Time For A Budget Advisory Committee

Gerry Scharfenberger may be able to talk a good game in order to give the impression that he is always on top of the situation, but all he really ever does is blow and bluster a lot of hot air that makes people turn their heads and look the other way. Good examples of this was his recent handling of the school budget and how he has thus far refused to consider the idea of establishing a budget advisory committee that could help formulate and propose the fiscal budgets for not only Middletown but also the Board of Education. It would rely on shared services and greater cooperation between the two governing bodies and would save the Township tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars now and in the future.
Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes has been proposing for the past 3 years that the Township set up some form of financial advisory committee that could sit down, look at, discuss and propose ideas to the Township Committee that could help shape and steer the budget processes in order to find potential fiscal issues or problems that would hamper the budget process that would prevent the Township from having a fiscal budget in place by January 1st each year as opposed to 5,6 or 8 months into the calender/fiscal year.
Each time Byrnes has presented his idea for some type finance committee he has been rebuffed by Gerry Scharfenberger and his fellow GOP members on the Township Committee with Scharfenberger’s excuse always being the same, that he thinks it’s every committee persons job to look at and take responsibility over budget issues, even though it is inefficient to do so.
Byrnes’s latest proposal for a finance committee is a sound one and makes a lot of sense. It would be a joint budget revue and advisory committee that would include members of the Middletown Township Committee, members of the Middletown Board of Education and residents with budgeting expertise, for the purpose of making recommendations for sharing services, consolidating functions and for opportunities to consolidate maintenance and recreation functions. The goal of the committee would be reduce budget spending of each body by 2.5% in budget year 2011.
Committeeman Byrnes discussed his new proposal at the May 3rd workshop meeting where it received cool support from Gerry Scharfenberger and Committeewoman Pam Brightbill, who had earlier that met with members of the Board of Education to discuss the failed school budget. Gerry and Pam both stated that much of what Byrnes had proposed was discussed already earlier in the day when they met school board members, so it was not necessary.
Byrnes stated that he would introduce a resolution at the regular May 17th Committee meeting regardless so that the discussions could be ongoing and not brushed aside when it seemed that now was a perfect time to engage the Board of Education is serious talks concerning shared services.
Committeeman Byrnes stayed true to his word and moved that his resolution for a budget review and advisory committee be introduced and considered for adoption, unfortunately no other member of the committee would second the introduction so the motion failed and the resolution was dropped from further discussion.
Having a budget advisory committee is not a new or novel idea, many non-profits and Fortune 500 companies have them as well as other governing bodies, the Republican controlled Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders being one of them. They introduced their financial committee earlier this year and are very happy. So why do the republicans in Middletown continue to fight such a common sense idea? I can only speculate that the reasons against a finance committee of any kind is because outsiders would have access to the Township ledgers and would be able to see where and to whom all of the money goes, which would lead to questions and lack of control over township business that the ruling GOP have enjoyed for more than 25 years.
Gerry, you can’t wait for Trenton to bail Middletown out of the mess we are in. Leaders lead or they get out of the way, it’s that simple.
Below is the resolution that Committeeman Sean Byrnes introduced to the Township Committee on May 17th and failed to receive support from other committee members:

WHEREAS, the Township Committee is mindful of the difficult economic climate facing residents of the Township of Middletown and the hardships associated with any increased tax burden facing citizens of the Township of Middletown; and

WHEREAS, the Township has recently hired a new Chief Financial; and

WHEREAS, the voters of Middletown, recently rejected the budget proposed by the Middletown Township Board of Education, despite the Board of Education having undertaken substantial cuts in line item spending; and

WHEREAS, the State of New Jersey, the Township of Middletown and the Board of Education face a financial crisis unprecedented in recent times, and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee anticipates that municipalities and school boards will continue to operate in an austere budget environment where citizens demand efficiency, small government and the elimination of unnecessary or discretionary services, and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee believes that closer cooperation with the Board of Education will be necessary to meet the financial challenges ahead, and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee believes that consolidation of certain functions performed by both the Board of Education and the Township Committee should be seriously considered and adopted where appropriate; and that the process of developing these recommendations should be open to the public; and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee believes that shared services within the public entities within Middletown and with neighboring municipalities and boards of education must take place and that the size of Middletown Township leaves it well-suited to lead these efforts; and

WHEREAS, the Township Committee seeks to pursue all opportunities to improve efficiency, eliminate unnecessary spending and reduce the burden on its taxpayers;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Committee of the Township of Middletown that the Township does hereby authorize and call upon the Board of Education to jointly convene a Budget Review Advisory Committee consisting of 2 members of the Township Committee, three members of the Board of Education and 2 members of the community with strong financial experience, preferably in a Fortune 500 environment, to meet regularly over the next 6 months and thereafter make recommendations to the Township Committee and the Board of Education for sharing services and consolidating functions. This Budget Review Advisory Committee will look specifically for opportunities to consolidate maintenance and recreation functions. The Budget Review Advisory Committee shall have a specific goal of reducing the combined spending of the Township Committee and Board of Education by 2.5% for fiscal year 2011

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Filed under budget planning, Gerry Scharfenberger, Midddletown Board of Education, Middeltown Budget Awareness Committee, Sean F. Byrnes

Face it Gerry, Trenton Is Not Going To Help You

Kudos to Dustin Racioppi of for taking the initiative to follow up on my blog post as to why Wednesday night’s special budget meeting was cancelled.
It seems that Dustin must have contacted Gerry Scharfenberger sometime yesterday to ask why the meeting was cancelled. He must have gotten an earful out of Gerry because he got enough information out of him to write a very flattering column that seems to imply that from Gerry’s perspective, everything is wonderful and residents shouldn’t worry about the Township’s finances because his new buddies in Trenton will bail Middletown out of the big money pit it finds itself at the bottom of. As you read the column, it is evident that Gerry gave him every excuse in the book that he could think of as to why the budget hasn’t been presented already.
First, it was that Middletown didn’t have a CFO for several months (which was your own fault Gerry for not actively seeking one), then it was having to concentrate on the failed school budget. But officially it was because of a lack of a quorum Wednesday night that the meeting was cancelled.
That’s cool, but didn’t anyone know before hand that a quorum was not possible for Wednesday night? Did the Town Administrator just schedule a last minute special meeting to introduce thebudget without checking with members of the committee first? It’s a little fishy if you ask me.
Not to worry though, it happens to turn out to be a good thing that the meeting was cancelled according to Gerry. You see, by waiting for a couple of weeks for the possibility of his buddies in Trenton to bail him out, Middletown could magically save money by screwing recent retirees out of their pension and health benefits. And if Middletown can somehow opt-out of its civil service agreements, with a little help from the Governor and Gerry’s good buddy Robert Cezch (you remember him, former Township Administrator) who is the new CEO of the NJ Civil Service Commission, then Middletown will no longer have to play by the rules and hire cronies and friends to fill open positions through out the workforce, essentially creating patronage positions at every level of township operations.
But of course Gerry doesn’t address that the proposed budget that was going to be introduced contained a 15% tax increase, which if introduced before the June 8th Primary would have been political suicide for him.
Face it Gerry, waiting for your good buddy Governor Christie to bail your ass out of a $5 million budget deficit isn’t going to happen anytime soon. You and your republican friends have been mismanaging Middletown for years and it seems that you can never anticipate or see the warning signs of trouble even as the financial woos have mounted steadily over the past 5 years which have lead to increases of more than 16% in the municipal tax rate in that time.
Every day that you waste waiting for someone else to fix Middletown’s financial mess Gerry, another dollar wasted that could have been saved. Time is slipping away, Middletown is now 6 months into the fiscal year without a budget, temporary appropriations only compound to problem becuase Middletown is spending money that it does not have. You should have learned a lesson from last year when the budget ended with a $1.3 million deficit that needed to be rolled over into FY 2010.
Isn’t about time that you admit your mistakes and short comings instead of trying to lay blame on other and give people the false hope and information in your attempts at making yourself look better? How about finally agreeing to implementing a financial advisory board or commission to help right the cart, being your always so blind that you can never see the forest through the trees?

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Filed under budget planning, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Middletown,, tax increase, Trenton