Middletown Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger is good at the blame game. For four years, he pointed to the policies of Gov. Jon S. Corzine and the state Legislature as the causes of record property tax increases in our community. Now, with a Republican occupying the front office in Trenton, he’s turned to teachers and public employees as his latest scapegoat.
As the mayor knows, Middletown did not get into its fiscal mess overnight. Instead, decades of bad decisions by Scharfenberger and his Republican colleagues led us to this dangerous point.
For all their talk of fiscal responsibility, it was the GOP majority that agreed to the very same public employee contracts they now bemoan.
It was the GOP majority that consented to defeated school budget after defeated school budget. And it was the GOP majority that recklessly took out bond after bond, mortgaging the present on the backs of future taxpayers.
With the chickens coming home to roost, now they are attacking their own record of irresponsibility and hoping we don’t notice.
In contrast, Committeeman Sean Byrnes is calling for tough action to solve the long-term structural problems in the municipal budget. He advocates greater transparency in the process, allowing residents the opportunity to offer suggestions and feedback throughout the budget process, not only when it is presented for a vote.
Byrnes also is leading the fight to reduce our oppressive tax burden. He wants to establish a permanent finance committee and create a shared-services commission to aggressively pursue opportunities for Middletown to pool its resources with surrounding towns and save taxpayer dollars.
A Democrat, Byrnes believes it’s time we stopped hiding from our problems and started to address the serious challenges facing our community.
Instead of playing the blame game, Mayor Scharfenberger would be wise to do the same.
CHAIRMAN, MIDDLETOWN DEMOCRATS