Category Archives: pay freeze

Letter: Middletown budget raises taxes again

The following letter written by a Mr. Warren Houck, appeared in the printed version of the Asbury Park Press last week but for some strange and unknown reason it failed to make the online addition, which has forced me to painstakingly reproduce it here for all to read an comment on:

After the school budget was defeated in Middletown, the budget went to the Township Committee, which ordered more than $2 million in additional cuts.

Now the Township Committee has proposed its budget. Guess how much that budget went up? A little over $2 million. Basically the Township Committee gobbled up the cuts it forced upon the Middletown schools.

The Township is proposing a 13% increase in the tax rate. This increase is on top of a 6% increase last year and a 7% increase the year before. This comes to a three-year average of around 9% per year – all during a time of little or no inflation.

By the way, besides the township rate, the open-space tax has stealthily been increased by more 100%. How? When the entire town was reassessed and the average property value more than doubled, other tax rates were adjusted lower to reflect the reassessment, but the open-space tax stayed at the same rate.

The tax before the reassessment was 0.02 cents per 100 dollars of property value. The tax is still 0.02 cents, but this is after reassessment and after doubling of the typical property value, which causes the typical homeowner now to pay twice the amount towards open-space.

While an open-space tax may be desirable, no one voted to double it. Adjusting this tax back to the level before the town reassessment would save Middletown taxpayers more than $1 million per year.

It is interesting that Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger complains that the Middletown teachers would not agree to a pay freeze, yet the township is not even close to being able to freeze its own budget.

Understandably, the terrible recession we have been through is putting towns in this state into a bind, but the Middletown Township Committee’s members do not seem capable of making the same tough decisions that they dictated to the Board of Education.

Also, with three straight years of huge tax hikes, the committee seems to be in denial about adopting a budget that reflects the current reality.

Warren Houck

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, budget cuts, Gerry Scharfenberger, letter to the editor, Middletown Board of Education, open-space tax, pay freeze, tax increase

Another Example Of mayor Gerry Not Telling The Whole Truth For Political Gain, Middletown PBA Given 7.7% Pay Raise

Tomorrow is June 8th, Primary Day, and seeing that mayor Gerry has a primary opponent this year in challenger Tony Avallone, it’s time to point out one more example of how Gerry Scharfenberger likes to twist facts and issue half-truths for political gain when he thinks it is advantagous to do do.

Back on May 17th during the Middletown Township Committee meeting in which it was announced by mayor Gerry that he spent days lamenting over the school budget and decided to cut an additional $2.1 million once from it, he again felt compelled to bluster a half truth in order to make it seem that he had accomplished the almost impossible, while basking in the glory of sticking it to the Board of Education.

During committee comments that evening, Gerry couldn’t wait to tell everyone what a wonderful accomplishment he had been able to pull off. It seems that during the executive session meeting which was held before the open public portion of the meeting, Gerry and his fellow committee members received the heads up that 2 out of the 4 or 5 unions that service the township had excepted a zero percent pay increase for FY 2010. To Gerry this was great news and an opportunity to score some cheap political points with those that were in attendance for the public portion of the meeting by letting them know that this was a great accomplishment that would go a long way in helping the township balance it’s budget that has a deficit of $5 million.

When mayor Gerry prematurely made this announcement during committee comments (I say prematurely because all the details weren’t known at the time) he received a few “that a boys” from people in the audience. But if he would have told those in the audience the whole story and not just a convenient half truth I doubt that those that cheered him would have done so.

(Here’s Gerry making the announcement)

Out of the two unions that settled their contracts with the Township I was able to get the details behind one of them, PBA Local 124, which represent the officers of the Middletown Police Department. To their credit, the police accepted a zero percent increase for 2010 and agreed to contribute 1.5% of “pensionable base salary” toward their health benefits effective on July 1,2010 (which thanks to Gov. Christie they would have had to have done anyway), and they gave up 96 hours worth of holiday pay provisions.

What did Middletown have to give up in return?

The Township settled with PBA Local 124 by agreeing to a retro active pay increase of 3.85% for FY 2008 and an additional 3.85% retro active increase for FY 2009 for a total of a 7.7% pay increase that members of the PBA would see in their next paychecks.

Oh yeah and that 96 hours of holiday pay that was eliminated, well it really wasn’t. The 96 hours worth of pay was rolled into the base pay of PBA members, so it wasn’t lost at all, it is just not considered overtime anymore.

Don’t get me wrong,I don’t begrudge the fine men and women of the Middletown Police Department anything here, they do a fine job and should be rewarded. The purpose of pointing out their settlment is strickly to show that mayor Gerry Scharfenberger has a problem with presenting the whole truth when the whole truth may not be politically advantagous for him to do so.

While I don’t expect Tony Avallone to unseat Scharfenberger tomorrow in the Republican primary, I do expect him to make a strong showing that will shock many in town into paying closer attention to what Gerry Schafenberger does and says in the future because the last thing Middletown needs when facing a $5 million budget deficit is another politician who can’t be honest and tell the truth to residents.

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Filed under 0% increase, Gerry Scharfenberger, Gov. Chris Christie, half-truths, health benefits and pension, Middletown Police, Middletown Township Committee, pay freeze, Tony Avallone, union contracts

Middletown Committee Sets Example

In our current economic crisis it is safe to say that everyone is suffering right now with tens of thousands of job losses and pay freezes nationwide. When times are tough, our elected representatives must make difficult decisions by taking the finances of our town seriously and helping those that need the most help. The taxpayer. What better way to lead in these trying times than by setting a good example and taking charge of what they were elected to do.

Therefore I would like to applaud the Middletown Township Committee for deciding to forgo their pay. They should go one step further by eliminating the stipend and health benefits of all Committee appointees, namely the sewer authority. A request should go out to ask the appointed professionals, like lawyers and engineers, to accept a reduction in the contracts that were negotiated in December. This is the example that should be set and is being suggested by Committeemen Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes,

There are some that report that Committeemen Short and Byrnes criticize insignificant savings, when in reality, they are looking to find significant savings in items that are not self-funded so that those that need the most help are not subject to the town helping themselves to your hard earned dollars. As homeowners and taxpayers, we deserve a Township Committee that is going to set the tone for a township budget. This is not what is happening and over 20% of this years budget has already been spent. Committeemen Short and Byrnes are the kind of positive and creative thinkers that are required to lead our town. They are putting the taxpayer first by looking for ways to allow the taxpayer to keep more of what they earn.

I applaud the work that Committeemen Short and Byrnes are doing to drive this budget process. Even the other Committee members recognize the effort and have adopted some of their Ideas. Hopefully, our town can come out of this process on a positive note.

Paul J Jansen

Middletown, NJ

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Filed under Economic Crisis, Middletown, Patrick Short, pay freeze, pay giveback, Sean F. Byrnes, tax payers