Category Archives: Joe Kyrillos

Middletown Planning Board And AVAYA, What’s Going On?

On the agenda for tonight’s Middletown Planning Board meeting will be the ongoing discussion, with the possible approval, of the Four Pond redevelopment plan for the Avaya complex. Looking at the agenda, it would seem that the only business to be discussed tonight will be the Four Ponds application, all other planning board business has been pushed back to the new year.
Back in October during his reelection campaign, Tony Fiore was telling every Lincroft area resident which he met, that there was a commercial entity interested in occupying the former Avaya industrial site. He also told them not to worry because the township’s planning board would not approve of the proposed Four Ponds housing redevelopment plan that would be comprised of 342 units with various road and infrastructure upgrades for area. He said that the township favored the commercial alternative for the redevelopment of the site over the housing and that the town would do what it could to ensure that the housing project would not be built.
Now that the election is over and Fiore’s seat on the Township Committee has been secured for another 3 years, it seems that the plan has once again changed.
The commercial entity believed to have been interested in the Avaya site was Commvault, a spin off of Lucent Technologies that specializes in data management and recovery. Their current corporate headquarters is located nearby in Oceanport NJ. Commvault it seems, is no longer interested in moving it’s headquarters to Lincroft and prefers instead to move it’s offices over to the now empty, Fort Monmouth in Eatontown.
Why would they choose Eatontown over Lincroft? More than likely it was some sort of tax abatement issue. I had heard previously, before the name of Commvault was known, that the interested commercial entity was looking for a large multi-million dollar, multi-year property tax break in order to move into Middletown. Supposedly the Township reached out to State Senator Joe Kyrillos for help in securing such a deal with the State, but Kyrillos had reservations and nothing was done. This in turn left the door open for Commvault, who more than likely got the deal they were looking from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority to moving itself over to the now empty Fort Monmouth.
So where does that leave the Four Ponds development? Rumors are circulating that Four Ponds developers have decided to back out of the housing project altogether and will announce their decision to do so tonight at the Planning Board meeting, leaving no one at present to build the 342 unit housing development, if the Planning Board’s decision was to approve Four Ponds’ application.
Four Pond’s rumored decision to drop its application could put the town in a major bind. The Avaya project is part of the Township’s COAH plan. If Four Ponds or some other builder, doesn’t build some kind of affordable housing there, the town will not be compliant with it’s State COAH plan and will have to find another location to build the affordable units. This would then open the door to builders that could seek “builder remedy” law suits against Middletown that would allow them to build just about anything, anywhere in town.
And for those that say that couldn’t happen because Governor Christie abolished COAH earlier this year, you are wrong. Christie abolished the governing body that presided over COAH not the rulings or decisions that had been already established by it. Middletown is just as bound today to their plans for building affordable housing as they were a year ago, nothing has changed.
Tonight’s meeting should be interesting.
So what’s the next step here? As one person so apply stated “Middletown should keep that COAH attorney on retainer.”

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Filed under Avaya, COAH, Commvault, Fort Monmouth, Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, Four Ponds Housing Development, Gov. Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, Middletown Planning Board

APP: Lack Of Compelling Candidates Leads To Incumbent Endorsements In The 13th LD ??

The Asbury Park Press Editorial Board came up with some really scary reasoning as to why it decided to once again back incumbent Republicans as opposed to endorsing any of their opponents in the 13th Legislative District race this year.

In doing so they have attempted to dispel readership criticism of their obvious bias toward incumbent Republicans and the lack to follow through on their own rhetoric towards incumbency.

“…We often bemoan the power of incumbency and the lack of competitive legislative races in this state. A big part of the reason so many races are uncompetitive is that those who run against the incumbents are not compelling candidates….”

Not compelling candidates? Really? That one is a bit hard to believe.

How much more compelling candidates do you need than 2 former mayors of Hazlet and the first Democrat elected to the Middletown Township Committee in over 25 years, who have stressed the importance of maintaining the line on property taxes and getting hard hit middle-class families struck by the recession back on their feet and back to work?
Mayor Christopher Cullen who is running for the Senate against Joe Kyrillos was elected in 2000 to the Hazlet Township Committee. His focused was on preserving open space,preserving a record amount of open space and improved Hazlet’s quality of life. while stabilizing property taxes, and improving youth recreation. He served on the Planning and Zoning Boards and was liason to the Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, Recreation Commission. He is also a committed environmentalist.

Mayor Kevin M. Lavan who along with Patrick Short is running against incumbents Amy Handlin and Declan O’Scalon, served as committeeman, deputy mayor, and then mayor, during which time he increased transparency in local government, improved youth recreation, and delivered the lowest property tax increases in a generation. Prior to beginning his tenure on the Township Committee, Kevin served on the Planning and Zoning Boards as well as the Bayshore Regional Sewerage Authority.

Committeeman Patrick Short became the first Democrat elected to the Township Committee in nearly two decades. During his tenure, he voted to increase transparency, fought for fair and ethical bidding practices and against municipal tax hikes.

How much more compelling do these guys need to be? They all have a list of accomplishments which have shown that they have the voter’s best interests in mind first over their own or Party’s.
In the dismissal of Cullen and Short’s candidacy, the APP admits that they are credible but dismisses Cullen because they perceived his stance to protect district workers and families and speaks of the frustration faced by local officials who must deal with unfunded mandates and shrinking state aid as being in “lockstep with standard Democratic positions“.
In Short’s case before dismissing his candidacy, they actually say that he is “...a credible, well-spoken candidate who favors reducing property taxes by increasing income taxes and expanding the sales tax to other items.
And for no apparent reason at all Kevin Lavan wasn’t even considered.

Here is what a few readers of the APP had to say about the endorsements of Kyrillos, Handlin and O’Scalon:

watchdoggg
5:42 AM on October 31, 2011

Kyrillos, Handlin and O’Scanlon.

These three stand out alright, as doing the LEAST as representatives.
All three are in lockstep with the Christie administration which has done absolutely NOTHING to curtail property tax increases which continue unabated, contrary to the claims of this self serving Gov.

Kyrillos has been with the Monmouth County “boys” for how many YEARS, and what noteable legislation has HE ever passed ?? Interesting how many officials were arrested by federal officials, and more importantly, HOW MANY WERE NOT (from the republican side). I wonder if Christie made a deal with the then GOP party chairman (Kyrillos).

Handlin. How many years did she sit in with the boys from Club Monmouth, and claim she never knew what was going on.

O’Scanlon. The right hand boy to then state senator John Bennett, whom Christie (then federal prosecutor) vilified as the biggest double dipper in NJ.

These three standout alright, for all the wrong reasons to be reelected.
GRIP,,,.Get Rid Incumbent Politicians.
NOPOLITICALPARTY
6:26 AM on October 31, 2011

Three more incumbents endorsed by the Press. And come the new year the Press will be writing editorials telling us the problems we have are because voters always re-elect incumbents. They will call for new blood later, but for now they are satisfied with the same old-same old. Go figure!

gaborbacchi
10:36 AM on October 31, 2011


Totally irresponsible journalism. Declaring some candidates as “no shot at winning”, “does not warrant serious consideration”, and “a wasted vote” WITHOUT ANY REASONS WHY is hack at its best. Why not list the stance of each and let voters decide. Sure the APP can endorse, but to DENOUNCE without any reason is journalistic treason that is insulting to readers who are not robots that need to be told who to vote for. We are looking for where candidates stand, idiots! Tell us!

bchbum
3:31 PM on October 31, 2011

the LAST thing this district needs is MORE of the same! UNELECT kyrillos, handlin and o’scanlon!

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Filed under 13th Legisaltive District, Amy Handlin, Asbury Park Press, Christopher Cullen, Declan O'Scanlon, endorsement, Joe Kyrillos, Kevin Lavan, Patrick Short

Profiles Of The 13th District Race Online At The APP and NJ Spotlight

The both the Asbury Park Press and NJ Spotlight have race profiles online for the NJ 13th Legislative District races featuring the issues and candidates in those races.

In the 13th race for State Assembly Democrats Kevin Lavan of Hazlet and Patrick Short of Middletown are running against Republicans and current members of the State Assembly Amy Handlin 0f Middletown and Declan O’Scanlon.
This race also features two other candidates running together for the State Assembly William Lawton and Frank Cottone, as members of the Constitution Party.
In the 13th race for State Senate Democrat Christopher Cullen of Hazlet is running against current State Senator Joe Kyrillos of Middletown.

The candidates for Monmouth County Surrogate race have also been posted online at the APP website. In this race Democrat Michael Steinhorn from Rumson is looking to unseat Middletowner Rosemary Peters. The APP headline “Monmouth County surrogate race not drawing attention” is an understatement, which is a shame because Steinhorn is an extremely capable and affable guy, who deserves more attention.

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Filed under 13th Legisaltive District, Amy Handlin, Asbury Park Press, Chris Cullen, Declan O'Scanlon, Joe Kyrillos, Kevin Lavan, Michael Steinhorn, monmouth County Surrogate, NJspotlight, Patrick Short

Is New Jersey Playing Games with Fracking Ban?

The following commentary from Dennis Anderson, Chair of the Jersey Shore (Monmouth) Group of the Sierra Club and Joellen Lundy, President of N.J. Friends of Clearwater appears on the website Newjerseynewsroom.com as well as a few other sites.

I post it here because the subject of hydraulic fracturing(fracking) shale in order to release natural gas deposits that were unattainable before the process was developed, has become a very big issue. The chemicals that are used in the process have polluted ground water and surrounding lands with hazardous and carcinogenic residues, guest blogger Linda Baum posted a column about fracking and it’s dangers here back in April.

Since then a number of articles on the subject, both Pro and Con, have been making there way into the media.
Legislation banning Fracking in NJ, is sitting on Governor Christie’s desk waiting for his signature. Why he hasn’t signed it yet is anyone’s guess.
NJ is the most densely populated state in the nation and our natural resources will be placed at risk if franking is allowed to continue without the proper safety constraints in place to ensure that drinking water, wildlife and the general population are not placed risk:

Opponents of the environmentally damaging practice now sweeping the country of hydrofracking shale deposits for natural gas were delighted last week when the N.J. Legislature voted to ban the practice. The vote, 33 to 1 in the Senate and 51 to 11 in the Assembly, showed such a rare bi-partisan agreement so absent in today’s political discourse that many environmentalists hoped New Jersey’s politicians finally recognized that solving the state’s pollution problems transcends partisan bickering.

We hope this is the case, but we’re not sure. Gov. Christie, who has become increasingly hostile to the state’s environmental problems, has yet to sign the bill. If he does, it will be a watershed event. But will he? Sen. Joseph M. Kyrollis Jr. did not vote on the bill but offered an amendment — rejected by the Senate — to ban hydrofracking for five years. But why would Kyrollis delay hydrofracking?

There is growing public anger over hydrofracking, which requires enormous amounts of water and a number of toxic chemicals that the frackers are not required by law to report. Vice President Dick Cheney accomplished this dodge while in office. These undisclosed chemicals pollute both underground and surface water supplies. This debacle is very hard for politicians to support, so we may be seeing a “pretend” vote where pro-development politicians duck citizens’ ire by voting against hydrofracking, knowing that the governor will use his veto power to avoid an out-right ban and force environmentally responsible politicians to accept Kyrollis’ “compromise” that opens the door in five years.

The state of New Jersey deserves better. Until hydrofracking is absolutely safe, it must be banned. The first step would be to require complete disclosure of the chemicals they plan on indirectly pumping into our water supply.

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Filed under Fracking, Gov. Chris Christie, hydrofracking, Joe Kyrillos, Linda Baum, natural gas drilling, New Jersey Newsroom, NJ Friends of Clearwater, Sierra club

>Mr. Kyrillos Wants to Go to Washington; Christopher Cullen to remain in district to fight for working families

>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2011

HAZLET – Following today’s Politicker New Jersey report that Republican Joe Kyrillos filed papers with the Federal Election Commission forming an exploratory committee for U.S. Senate, his Democratic challenger Christopher Cullen issued the following statement:

With each passing day it’s clearer and clearer to me that Joe Kyrillos cares more about his next political move than he does the people of the Thirteenth Legislative District. If Joe plans on jumping ship, he should make a public statement to that effect. It’s time we had a voice in Trenton who cares more about the concerns of seniors and working families than he does about his next political move. I will stay right here, fighting to create jobs and protect our environment.


Mayor Cullen served on the Hazlet Township Committee from 2001-2004. During that time, he preserved more open space than any mayor in Hazlet history. He currently works as facilities maintenance manager for the Marine Academy of Science and Technology at Sandy Hook.

The new Thirteenth Legislative District comprises Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Little Silver, Marlboro, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Rumson, Sea Bright, and Union Beach.

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Filed under 13th Legisaltive District, Christopher Cullen, Democratic challenger, exploratory committee, Federal Election Committee, Hazlet NJ, Joe Kyrillos, PolitickerNJ, U.S Senate Seat

>Middletown Still Kicking Around Shadow Lake Political Football

>I was glad to hear after last week’s Middletown Township Workshop meeting that nearly $2.7M maybe freed up soon by the state, for the long talked about Shadow Lake dredging project.

According to what I had been told of the meeting and a subsequent article posted on MiddletownPatch.com it seems that Middletown resident and NJ State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13) found a way to partially fund the estimated $4+M dredging project by co-sponsoring legislation that will provide funding through the state’s Environmental Infrastructure Trust (EIT) fund.
The legislation that originally created the Environmental Infrastructure Trust fund was intended to provide special financing, in the form of a low-interest loans to companies and municipalities looking to clean up environmentally contaminated “Brownfields” in order to return them to tax rolls.
Kyrillos’s bill that would provide funding for Middletown under the EIT, still needs to be voted on by the full Senate before moving onto the Assembly for approval and signature of the governor, which is not a given. I wouldn’t exactly call Shadow Lake an environmental “brownfield” that needs to be cleaned up so it can be returned to the tax rolls.
But what disturbs me here is the fact that Middletown Republicans are still playing the equivalent of political football with this issue and sending mixed messages with the intent on blaming state and local Democrats for delaying the dredging of the lake and contributing to it’s skyrocketing cost.

Officials ran into a project roadblock when the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) made it clear that, when removed, any dredge spoils gleaned from the lake would have to be transported to a safe, licensed off-site location, dried out and then taken to a legal dumping ground, Middletown Mayor Tony Fiore said.

Township Attorney Brian Nelson had said that where the township had no luck with the last administration’s state DEP officials, the new DEP principals seem more receptive. The township governing body is all-Republican, as is the Christie-appointed administration.

“We can’t do anything without permits,” he had said a couple of months ago at a Township Committee meeting. “But the DEP is working with us much better than it formerly did. Before it was clear they were not giving us permits.”

Now, knowing that the funds are being secured, Mayor Fiore said that the next step would be to go out to bid for the project.

“Thanks to the efforts of Senator Kyrillos the residents of the communities surrounding Shadow Lake can rest easier knowing that a project more than a decade in the making is nearing reality,” said Fiore. “In addition to the senator’s efforts in helping secure financing for this project, he has assisted the township with the DEP to find a qualified site outside of Middletown for disposal of the dredge spoils.”

It wasn’t Democrats that said this project was going to be an easy slam dunk just before the 2007 election and how it wasn’t going to cost residents a single dime (but proposed bonding for it) because local college students would perform surveys of the lake and other services for the township for free. And that the rest of the cost for the dredging would come from grants or planned to have the arsenic, heavy metal and carcinogenic contaminated spoils buried within Stephenson Park without proper permits from the NJ DEP. It was Gerry Scharfenberger and the rest of the Middletown Republicans who were attempting to secure last minute vote from residents who live around Shadow Lake by proposing such a plan.

Local Democrats want to see Shadow Lake restored but want it done smartly, cost efficiently and with in the law. The last thing Democrats or residents want is to clean up a lake only to create an environmental hazard somewhere else, namely Stephenson Park.
The NJ DEP was right not to issue permits for that and insisting that the dredged spoils be carted to a properly secured landfill.
And the following comment left on the MiddletownPatch article by a Mr. Dave Venture seems to agree:
Coming from someone who is an environmental professional who grew up on Shadow Lake and lived there for 22 years and still fish it weekly, I can tell you this issue has been twisted and misused by various media groups as well as private landowners on the lake . The lake has become naturally shallower in some areas which is normal succession for a man-made lake. The problem of increased vegetation is in large part not due to the depth of the lake. The lake is surrounded by residential development and Shadow Lake Village all of which contribute tremendous amounts of nutrient runoff to the lake in the way of fertilizers etc. The lake also sits in an area that was all farmland until the middle part of the 20th century. The groundwater may still be pumping nutrients from the historic farms into the lake contributing to the eutrophic environment. This is very similar to what is happening on a much larger scale in Barnegat Bay. The issue of depth of the lake and water quality/aquatic vegetation are two separate issues that have been blurred. If the goal is to make the lake deeper than I agree dredging is the only option. If the issue as they have proclaimed is to decrease the aquatic vegetation then dredging is not a cost-effective or ecologically sound solution. Green stormwater infrastructure and practices must be instituted to prevent the runoff that is making the lake an overly enriched ecosystem. State the goals clearly before dumping 4mil into a project.
So it’s about time now for Middletown’s “non- partisan” Township Attorney Brian Nelson and other finger pointers to point the finger at themselves. Too often Nelson acts like he is the 6th member of the Township Committee and gives bad, partisan advice that cost the town tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees because he has a vested interest Republicans maintaining control in town and it’s about time members of the Township Committee stop taking his poor advice.

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Filed under Brian Nelson, dredging, Environmental Infrastructure Trust (EIT) fund, Joe Kyrillos, Middletown Patch, NJ DEP, Shadow Lake, Stephenson Park, Tony Fiore

>Cullen Wins Write-In Campaign in Thirteenth District And Set To Challenge Christie’s Right-Hand-Man

>FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2011

HAZLET — Following a successful write-in campaign in Tuesday’s primary, Democrat Christopher Cullen is set to challenge Republican Joe Kyrillos for the State Senate.

Mr. Cullen, who served previously as Mayor of Hazlet Township, cited the Christie Administration’s inaction on key environmental issues and failure to create jobs as his reason for challenging the longtime lawmaker.

“The people of the Thirteenth Legislative District will have a choice between a voice for working families and the voice for Chris Christie,” said Cullen. “Senator Kyrillos has been in the Legislature for nearly two and half decades. That’s long enough.”

Mayor Cullen is also a committed environmentalist. He said, “As Mayor, I worked with Democrats and Republicans alike to preserve record amounts of open space. As Senator, I’ll go to Trenton to make sure that what remains of our woodlands and beaches don’t give way to shopping centers and traffic jams.”

Mayor Cullen served on the Hazlet Township Committee from 2001-2004. During that time, he preserved more open space than any mayor in Hazlet history. He currently works as facilities maintenance manager for the Marine Academy of Science and Technology at Sandy Hook.

The new Thirteenth Legislative District comprises Aberdeen, Atlantic Highlands, Fair Haven, Hazlet, Highlands, Holmdel, Keansburg, Keyport, Little Silver, Marlboro, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Rumson, Sea Bright, and Union Beach.

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Filed under 13th Legisaltive District, Christopher Cullen, Democratic Candidate, Gov. Chris Christie, Hazlet Mayor, Joe Kyrillos, NJ State Assembly

>Slippery Scharfenberger Avoids Answering Shadow Lake Question On Technicality

>During the public comments segment of the Middletown Township Committee meeting this past Monday night, resident Marilyn Michaels asked Gerry Scharfenberger if he had attended a meeting with Cindy Randazzo of the NJDEP and others on Oct. 21, 2010 in Trenton, which she thought may have been a conflict of interest between his duties as an elected official and his new job as Director of the Office of Planning Advocacy (she also brought up a number of valid concerns that I will deal with later).

This exchange between Ms. Michaels and Gerry Scharfenberger is a classic example how slippery Scharfenberger can be when he answers questions from residents or reporters. His responses are classic examples of deception through omission, that many seasoned career politicians engage in.
I posted on Nov.9th that representatives from T&M Engineering, State Senator Joe Kyrillos, the new Director for the Office of Planning and Advocacy (Mayor) Gerry Scharfenberger and several Middletown Township representatives met with Randazzo and other reps from the DEP on October 21,2010 in Trenton to discuss dredging concerns as related to Shadow Lake. This post was based on information that was forwarded to me by a third party that wished to remain anonymous.
Most of what was posted was factual, what wasn’t as it turned out was the location of the meeting. My third party source had mentioned that Randazzo expressed concerns about coming to Middletown for this meeting and wanted it held in Trenton. My source then added that the meeting took place in State Senator Joe Kyrillos’s office. It was then assumed by myself and the informant that the meeting took place in Trenton, when in fact it took place at Kyrillos’s office here in Middletown.
Why Scharfenberger had to make an ass out of himself over this is anyone guess, I suppose by squabbling with Ms. Michaels over this small point, he thought that it would discredit her in someway. What it did do was to further discredit him in the eyes of reporters there covering the nights event.
When asked about the Shadow Lake meeting afterwards, he admitted to reports that the meeting did take place on Oct. 21st but it never happened in Trenton, He confirmed the fact that it happened in Middletown.

The other valid concern Ms. Michaels brought up during her comments in front of the Committee was, if during his re-election bid, did he know if anyone may have contributed to his campaign, knowing that he was going to be or had recently been appointed as the head of the Office of Planning Advocacy Governor Christie.

She felt (as do I) that if someone was to have contributed to his campaign this year or in future years, that they may expect some special treatment if ever they may need special consideration for the state office that he now represents.

That assumption on Michaels part is, as I said, a valid concern. It goes to the heart of the issue of whether or not Scharfenberger acted ethically or not by not divulging information about his appointed during the campaign. It should be explored now and watched for in the future.

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Filed under Cindy Randanzzo, dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, Joe Kyrillos, Middletown NJ, Middletown Township Committee, NJDEP, Office of Planning Advocacy, Shadow Lake

>Was The New Director Of The Office of Planning Advocacy "On The Clock" When He Was Acting As Middletown Mayor During Meeting With NJDEP Officials?

>Back on October 21st a meeting took place at the office of Cindy Randazzo, the Director of NJDEP office of Local Government Assistance, in Trenton for the purpose of discussing options for dredging Middletown’s Shadow Lake.

In attendance at this meeting were various DEP personnel that had concerns with the dredging plans presented by the Township, representatives from T&M Engineering, State Senator Joe Kyrillos, the new Director for the Office of Planning and Advocacy (Mayor) Gerry Scharfenberger and several Middletown Township representatives.
From what I understand the meeting wasn’t very productive, the two sides (Middletown verses the NJDEP) couldn’t come to an agreement concerning the scope of the project or what to do with the spoils. The NJDEP made it clear that burying contaminated spoils from the bottom of Shadow Lake in neighboring Stevenson Park was out of the question and recommended that the project be downsized to fall within budget constraints while the Township, lead by the new Director for the office of Planning Advocacy (Gerry Scharfenberger) and Joe Kyrillos insisted that dredging the whole lake and burying the spoils near by was the only way of dealing with the lake. As you can imagine, no resolution to this issue was forth coming and another meeting was planned on for a future date.
After learning this yesterday I began to wonder about Scharfy’s role during this meeting. As the Director for Planning Advocacy, Gerry’s duties are “asking questions about policy, overseeing planners and GIS specialists. To help spur economic growth and revitalize the economy by, for example, reusing commercial properties” he has stated and the purpose of the Office for Planning Advocacy is to stimulate new growth and business opportunities for those wishing to do business in the State. His position is a full time job, 40+ hours a week, that pays him $95K a year.
What was he doing on “company” time, at a meeting with Joe Kyrillos, the NJDEP, Engineers from T&M and other from Middletown discussing Shadow Lake in the middle of a work week?
He certainly wasn’t there to promote smart growth or new business opportunities I can tell you that as require by his job title, he was present representing Middletown as it’s Mayor.
It’s nice to know that in his new position as Director of Planning Advocacy, his boss the Governor, allows him time to pursue other interests that are contrary to what he is suppose to be doing as Director.
I am sure that the 1,200 State employees will be happy to learn of this as well. Here they are losing their jobs while Gerry is running around the city of Trenton wasting tax payer dollars, acting as Middletown’s mayor when he should be in his office somewhere, asking questions about policy, overseeing planners and GIS specialists to help spur economic growth and revitalize the State economy.
Do you think he left early that day or did he stay late to make up for the time he was conducting Township business on State time?

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Filed under dredging, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, NJDEP, Office of Planning Advocacy, Shadow Lake, Trenton

Who is Behind The Middletown Budget Awareness Committee ?


Has anyone noticed the signs popping up all over Middletown like the one posted to the right?

The signs are from a group calling themselves the Middeltown Budget Awareness Committee.
I wasn’t familiar with this group until I saw these signs spring up along the roadside and decided to ask around to see if anyone could enlighten me.
I was informed by a friend who just happens to know the Chairperson of the committee, that The Middletown Budget Awareness Committee is a group who supports the BOE with their budget plans. They try and get public support so the budget gets passed and the signs reflect what Trenton is doing by taking back the surplus money that the BOE wanted to use for tax relief and new programs.
My friend reached out to the Chairperson of the Middeltown Budget Awareness Committee on my behalf for more information and I was sent the following statement:
The Middletown school budget has traditionally been built applying funds called Budgeted Tax Relief. These are funds that may be “left over” (surplus) from previous years’ budgets due to economies put in place during the school year. The funds that were squeezed out of that budget were returned to the taxpayers as tax relief to fund next year’s budget (hence the title “budgeted tax relief” and not surplus). So the “tax relief” funds arises from the District being able to save X amount of dollars of the previous budget by implementing cost-saving measures (such as a good year’s negotiations for medical coverage, installing efficient utility systems, etc.), and those savings are used when crafting the next year’s budget to “relieve – basically lower” the levy of local taxes to a level the taxpayers hopefully find acceptable.

Part of budgeting would also normally include allocating a portion of any remaining funds to the “capital reserve” fund to support future capital improvements (infrastructure, systems, fields). The state has taken .5M of Middletown’s accumulated capital reserves.

With the state taking the tax relief and reserves, the District has to rely on “real tax dollars” from this year, as well as pulling remaining capital reserve. Keep in mind that the State often imposes mandates on Districts without funding them. What this means is when the state says “you must have full-day kindergarten,” and there are specific regulations as to the physical structure of a kindergarten classroom, a district must fund that out of somewhere.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: 84% of the funds that the Governor authorized to withhold from Middletown are local taxpayer dollars. Senator J. Kyrillos, at the Middletown BOE Forum last week, admitted he had no idea the funds that were taken were predominantly funded by local taxpayer dollars. It appears he assumed that the funds were 100% state aid dollars held in reserve and therefore the state was still funding the approved budget by withholding committed funds and saying “keep the funds you already have from us.” For the 2009-2010 school budget year Middletown was supposed to receive only 16% in state aid (versus 41% average across the state). The checks have now stopped, and Middletown has been directed to use our $2.3 million tax relief and $.5 million capital reserves to cover the state’s shortfall. IF THE STATE IS WITHDRAWING STATE AID, THEY SHOULD ONLY BE TAKING 16% of $2.8 MILLION, NOT ALL OF IT. 84% OF THAT IS MIDDLETOWN DOLLARS RAISED FOR MIDDLETOWN CHILDREN!!

WE PAID OUR STATE TAXES. WE PAID OUR LOCAL TAXES SPECIFICALLY FOR MIDDLETOWN. NOW OUR STATE TAXES ARE GONE, SO OUR STATE AID IS GONE, AND THEY WANT OUR LOCAL REAL ESTATE TAXES TO SUPPORT THE ENTIRE STATE!

So where does Middletown stand right now? Based on the funding the state has withdrawn, and assuming that the state aid of 16% from last year is not reduced (highly unlikely), and also assuming that the Middletown taxpayers vote to pass the current budget on April 20th, we can expect to lose 36 teachers (in addition to 28 other positions ranging from Administration to Facilities). That is the “best case scenario” as we stand right now. If the Middletown voters vote to not pass the budget, the budget is presented to the township committee who can vote to cut the budget further, resulting in even more cuts.

The worst-case scenario is that the state follows through on a full 15% cut to Middletown’s current funding, which would result in a potential loss of over 80 teachers, additional positions, and program cuts! If the Middletown voters will not pass even that budget, additional positions and programs will have to be cut to make up for a potential township cut.

Think about the impact of 80+ families in Middletown and the surrounding areas losing their income. This is not an issue just affecting Middletown; this situation is happening across over 600 districts in this state. Lost jobs equals loss of income tax and sales tax to the state. Lost jobs equals unemployment, and the state has said the unemployment system is bankrupt. Lost jobs equals loss of property tax when families leave NJ for a cheaper place to live.

The Middletown Budget Awareness Committee, Inc.

Relevant documentation:

BOE forum presentation and spread sheets @ http://www.middletownk12.org/superintendent/files/FINAL%20Presentation%20without%20NOTES.pdf.

The text of the speech given by President Laura Agin of the Middletown Board of Education @
http://www.dollarsandsense.bz/.

In my opinion, this is a fight that parents with school kids need to get involved with and support the Middeltown Budget Awareness Committee and the Middeltown Board of Education. Not only will there be a lay-off of teachers and supporting school staff,l but there will be after school programs cut as well with little or no money for new books or other essential supplies available for the students use.

And if that wasn’t bad enough after all the $2.8 million in budget cuts are over with, the School Board will still have to raise the tax rate just to maintain what is left for next year.

Middletown needs this money to maintain what they have and hopefully the Christie Administration will come to their senses and realize that by taking surplus money away from
school districts across the state to plug his own budget gap is wrong and will return the portion of the surplus that was not directly due to aid payments from Trenton.

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Filed under budget cuts, Gov. Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, Middeltown Board of Education, Middeltown Budget Awareness Committee, School cuts, Trenton