Category Archives: Sean F. Byrnes

Upcoming Fundraisers In Support Of Amy Mallet, Bill Shea, Christopher Cullen, Kevin Lavan & Patrick Short

The following is a list of upcoming fundraisers for Democratic Candidates Freeholder Amy Mallet, Freeholder Candidate Bill Shea and 13th Legislative District Candidates Christopher Cullen, Kevin Lavan and Patrick Short.

Each event should be a great time for those that would be interested in showing their support of the candidates by attending:

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Fundraiser in Support of Freeholder Amy Mallet
6:30-8:30pm
Home of Sean Byrnes, 880 West Front Street, Red Bank, New Jersey 07701
For more information or to RSVP:
email info@amymallet.com

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Haskell Invitational Fundraiser in support of Bill Shea for Freeholder

Monmouth Park, Oceanport, New Jersey
$65/supporter, $120/sponsor, $250/gold sponsor
Please make checks payable to:
Friends of Bill Shea for Freeholder, P.O. Box 155, Hazlet, New Jersey 07730
Please RSVP to:
Maryellen Principe at 732.888.1862

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Labor Leaders of the 13th District Reception In support of
Kevin Lavan, Patrick Short and Chris Cullen

7-9pm
Assaggini di Roma

3253 Highway 35 North, Hazlet NJ 07730
RSVP to Joe Caliendo at 732.671.0870

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Golf outing in Support of Bill Shea for Freeholder

11am
Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club, 20 Shore Oak Drive, Farmingdale, NJ 07727
$250/guest, $500/sponsor, $1,000/silver sponsor and $2,500 gold sponsor
$50 guest dinner with paying golf participant, $75 for dinner only (no golf)
Please RSVP or for more info call:
Ron Principe at 732.888.1862
email ronprincipe@gmail.com or votebillshea@gmail.com
Thursday, August 11th, 2011
Fashion Show in support of Bill Shea for Freeholder

Lakeside Manor, Route 36, Hazlet, New Jersey 07730
$40/supporter, $80/sponsor, $150/gold sponsor
RSVP to Maryellen Principe at 732.888.1862

Please make checks payable to:

Friends of Bill Shea for Freeholder, P.O. Box 155, Hazlet, New Jersey 07730
Friday, August 19th, 2011
A Night of Comedy supporting Kevin Lavan, Patrick Short and Christopher Cullen for 13th Legislative District

7-11pm
Bayshore Senior Recreation Center
100 Main Street
Keansburg, New Jersey
$40/supporter, $75/friend and $150/co-host
Buffet included
RSVP to:
John Amberg @ jamberg825@gmail.com or 732-291-4272

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Filed under Bill Shea, Christopher Cullen, Democratic Candidate, Eagle Oaks Golf Club, Freeholder Amy Mallet, fundraiser, Haskell Invitational, Hazlet NJ, Kevin Lavan, Monmouth Park, Patrick Short, Sean F. Byrnes

>Independent: Twp. and BOE begin to discuss shared services; Middletown and school district form committee to explore opportunities

>Hmmm, this sounds vaguely familiar.


Wasn’t it Former Committeeman Sean Byrnes that championed the idea to form a committee to between the Middletown Township Committee and the Middletown Board of Education for the purpose of finding areas in which the two could share services? I’m just saying….

MIDDLETOWN — A collaborative committee between the township and the Board of Education that would facilitate shared services has begun to take shape.

The Township Committee approved a resolution establishing the new commit- tee’s members at its March 7 meeting.

Mayor Anthony Fiore, Committeeman Steve Massell and public member Judy Benedict will serve on the committee along with Township Administrator Anthony Mercantante.

Board members Vincent Brand and Michael Mascone, Interim Superintendent Thomas Pagano and Business Administrator Amy Gallagher will represent the school district on the committee.

The committee aims to identify areas of overlapping expenses and investigate possible shared or consolidated services between the two entities.

“A lot of those discussions happen already; however, we’re always more than willing to comply with trying to find every idea that we can to share resources with the Board of Education and other entities,” Fiore said in an interview.

“Hopefully, that committee will allow us to explore other and every avenue that we possibly can with the Board of Education to share services as much as possible for the benefit of the taxpayers of Middletown.”

Board President Michael Donlon expressed similar sentiments, but stressed that the committee is still young.

“Our Board of Education is looking to get a better understanding of the benefits that shared services may bring,” he said.

“We sincerely believe that collaboration is a win for both parties, and the board will continue in our efforts to work side by side with the township as we both proceed through these very interesting and changing times,” he said….


Read more >>>> Here

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Filed under Middletown Board of Education, Middletown Township Committee, Sean F. Byrnes, shared services, the Independent

>Looking At Both Sides

>by guest blogger Sean F. Byrnes, former Middletown Township Committeeman

Last week we saw the Township of Middletown enveloped in a dispute over the Township’s effort to convince the Board of Trustees for the Library to turn over a significant share of its surplus to the Township Committee for budget relief purposes. Unfortunately, the manner in which the township chose to solicit these funds lacked tact. Although the township had previously made less threatening overtures to the Library in an effort to win the Board of Trustees’ support for a funds transfer, when that effort failed, the Township pursued an aggressive campaign to convince the public that a transfer would be in their best interest. Spearheaded by new Committeeman Kevin Settembrino, this effort, whether intended or not, seemed rooted in tactics of intimidation and threats to de-municipalize the library and combine it with the County Library system. This effort also suggested that a failure of the Board of Trustees to abide by the wishes of the Township Committee would result in the loss of ten police officers, the layoff of a significant number of Township employees and, if you heard the comments at the Library Board of Trustees’ meeting, an effort by Township Committee members to replace existing Board of Trustees members.

Based on the comments from Board of Trustees’ members at their meeting on Tuesday, it would appear that the resolve of the Board of Trustees has not wilted in the face of these threats. Led by Randy Gabrielan, the Chairman of the Board, the Library challenged the assumptions, numbers and legal authority for the Township’s demand for a funds transfer. Looking ahead, as a Township resident, I would hope that both sides could retreat from the current level of heated rhetoric and restart their discussions.

I think it would be in the interest of all taxpayers for the Township Committee and Library to continue their discussions. It might make more sense to have the Township Administrator meet with the Director of the Library to discuss how the Library might be able to assist the township in this time of budget crisis. From the Library’s perspective, the Board has worked hard to build a reserve that could be used for future capital projects, and there is an understandable reluctance to use these funds to satisfy operating expenses for the Township. From the Township’s perspective, the Library has a protected stream of revenue that is not subject to the same stresses and demands that the Township must face when health care costs increase, pensions become more expensive and the cost of doing business generally continues to go up. There may be opportunities for these two parties to cooperate in other ways that would provide relief to the Township without exhausting the reserves of the library.

There is no question that the Township finds itself in a perfect storm of budgetary constraints. To be fair, some of these strains are beyond its control. But the Township moved at a glacial pace over the last several years as this financial crisis approached. A quicker response to the approaching financial storm would have made the Library ask a smaller one. Accordingly, before the Library turns over any of its reserves to the Township, it would be nice to see an acknowledgment that a swifter response from the township in 2009 and 2010 would have avoided the seriousness of the budget crisis that the Township currently faces. The Township did lay off approximately 16 employees last year, but did so only mid-year. Other municipalities took action much sooner and in more dramatic fashion. The former Mayor’s claims of 40 layoffs include retirements.

Other cost-saving measures were proposed over the last several years, but were rejected as too extreme. Unfortunately, as a result of the Township’s failure to act, the Township Committee must now contemplate cuts that go far beyond those that were previously considered “extreme.” Until the Township forms a subcommittee whose function is to focus on budget recommendations, track existing and anticipated debt, look for opportunities for consolidation and sharing of services and generally manage the Township’s finances on a more regular basis, the Township will always be reacting to rather than planning for increased demands for Township resources.

Once again, in fairness, the unfortunate timing of the Township’s reevaluation in 2009, just prior to a steep decrease in property values, set the Township up for a tax appeal nightmare in 2010 and 2011. (Of course, the township had mistakenly put off its reevaluation for approximately 14 years – had the township completed the reval when it should have, the steep drop in real estate prices would not have resulted in such a large number of tax appeals.) But regardless of the failure to conduct a timely revaluation, the Township has a legitimate reason to gripe, because when a resident or commercial property owner prevails on their tax appeal, the township must return to the taxpayer not only the municipal share of the taxes received from the taxpayer, but must also reimburse the taxpayer for the funds received by the School District during the year for which the tax appeal was filed. This reality is difficulty for some to believe, but true. And, in light of the fact that approximately two-thirds of the tax dollars go to school district activities, the Township ends up paying back the taxpayer for School District funds that the Township never received in its budget.

Consequently, the steady decrease in real estate value over the last couple of years has produced a field day for those filing tax appeals. The Township is now struggling to repay multi-year tax appeals that are probably worth nearly $4 million. Unfortunately, the Legislature has failed to assist municipalities facing this dilemma. Under the circumstances, given the unique circumstances facing municipalities, including picking up the tab for the Legislature’s bungling of pension contributions for public workers, the Legislature should provide assistance to townships by creating opportunities for public entities to finance the tax appeals or extend their repayment terms. In several years, the Township will be through this unique period where tax appeal refunds are substantial and hopefully return to a more predictable budget cycle. The Township Committee took the first step in this direction in 2010 when it decided to conduct a reassessment. Even thought the reassessment cost $400,000 the savings achieved in 2011 from reduced tax appeal filings will be far greater.

The realities of the tax appeals as set forth above increase the pressure for some agreement with the Library. At the same time, the Library will see its share of funding decrease by more than 10 percent next year, due to the fact that its revenue stream is dependent solely upon property values. With a 1.3 billion drop in the total assessed real estate in the Township of Middletown, the Library’s stream of revenue will be reduced considerably. Given this dynamic, it may make sense for the Township and Library to discuss mutual relief. In other words, the Township needs money now most desperately. The Library in the out years may need assistance as its funding stream declines. Perhaps assistance from the Library during the current year could be received in exchange for promises by the Township to return the favor several years down the road.

It might also make sense for the Library to consider some sort of partnership with the Arts Center. While the Arts Center has its own Board of Directors, this arrangement, as far as I know, is not routed in any legislative scheme. Indeed, the Township has effectively turned over the operation of the Arts Center to a non-profit corporation and the Board supervises these activities. Resident Jim Grenafege was the first person to suggest that the Library Board of Trustees might consider assimilating some of the Arts Center’s operations into its activities. A casual review of the websites for these two entities suggests that there is some degree of overlap between the artistic and cultural offerings from these two bodies. Given that they both have buildings that are relatively new and both are focused on improving the education of the citizens of this Township when it comes to arts, literature and music, there may be some opportunity for the Library to assist in the operation of the Arts Center, including some of its expenses. It is exciting to contemplate what the far larger Library work force might be able to provide to the Arts Center when it comes to running the day to day events and offerings at the Arts Center.

At the end of the day, the current legislation when it comes to Library transfer to municipalities, amended in October of 2010, will likely allow some transfer to take place. From the Township’s perspective, the amount of money to be transferred under the current legislative scheme will fall short of what the Township needs to avoid drastic reductions in personnel and services. However, somewhere within the circumstances discussed above, creative minds on both sides should be able to work out an arrangement that provides some additional relief for the Township, even if it may not be a direct transfer of funds of the magnitude the Township seeks. My hope would be that the time and energy on both sides be spent working toward that goal, rather than on blaming the other.

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Filed under 2% cap, budget deficit, budget surplus, Middletown Cultural Arts Center, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, Sean F. Byrnes, tax appeals

>The Last "It’s Your Town" Newsletter For 2010 Is Available For Reading

>The last issue of the year of It’s Your Town newsletter has be published and is ready for downloading. The issue of the newsletter covers the last Middletown Township Committee meeting that took place on Monday, December 20th.

It was a very quick meeting, lasting only 1 hour. But even though it was short, a few major things took place.

Committeeman Sean Byrnes was recognized by the Township for his 3 years of service on the Committee and a resolution that Byrnes introduced to televise the meetings was tabled for further discussion by Deputy Mayor Tony Fiore and the Committee (which means that it will never be discussed again unless residents continue to push for it).

The Committee also agreed to retire a dozen or so different bond ordinances that still have funds associated with them. The funds will be used to pay off the bond debt that these and other bonds have generated over the years.

I hope that everyone that has downloaded or have received copies of the newsletter via email over this past year, have enjoyed reading it, an awful lot of work goes into producing it. The newsletter is the closest representation of what actually happens at Township Committee meetings that residents have available to them without actually being there.

The author, Don Watson, does an outstanding job at maintaining a non-partisan and unbiased approach to writing the newsletters and should be commended for his efforts at informing the public on what is happening down at Town Hall.

It is, after all, your town!
If you would like to be put on to an email list to have the It’s Your Town newsletter sent to your inbox send a request to: itsourtown@yahoo.com

You can download the newsletter >>> Here

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Filed under bond debt, Its Your Town, Middletown, New Jersey, Newsletter, refinance bond debt, Sean F. Byrnes

>The Issue of Artificial Turf Fields In Middletown Was Officially Put To Rest With Resolution 10-310

>Last night’s Middletown Township Committee meeting brought the official end to the artificial turf field issue. The committee voted 3-1 to approve Resolution 10-310, which authorized that the unused bonded money that was meant for the installation of two artificial turf fields at West Front Street Park and Croydon Hall, be used instead to pay down existing bond debt.

In the audio clip below Committeewoman Pam Brightbill discusses why she reluctantly voted to approve the resolution, after which you can hear why outgoing Committeeman Sean Byrnes voted against it.

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

The one curious thing about Resolution 10-310 is the fact that it is the only resolution that was discussed last night that has not made it’s way onto the Township’s website, for some reason it is missing. I am wondering if it has anything to due with the potential controversy that may surround it.

The controversy being that the original bond that was issued in 2006 which allocated funding for the turf fields specifically stated that these funds could not be used for any other purpose other than recreation, and with the nature of bond issues those funds cannot be used for the purpose offsetting operational budgets.

Using these bonded funds to pay off debt may not be legal,so until the resolution is made available to the public we’ll just have to wait to see how the Township intends to do this.

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Filed under artificial turf fields, Croydon Hall, Middletown Township Committee, Pamela Brightbill, resolutions and ordinances, Sean F. Byrnes, Turf project, West Front Street

>Committeeman Byrnes Presented with Certificate of Appreciation For His Service To Middletown

>Last night the Middletown Township Committee presented a plaque to outgoing Committeeman Sean Byrnes that expressed the Township’s appreciation for his 3 years of service to Middletown.

The plaque was presented by Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger and was followed by a few words from Sean Byrnes.

All of Sean Byrnes’s supporters and friends wish him all the best in whatever endeavors he now plans to pursue in his “free time”. His presence on the Township Committee will be greatly missed.

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Filed under certificate of appreciation, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committee, Sean F. Byrnes

>Middletown Refuses To Take Residents Money; Taxpayers Told Of Looming Tax Sales

>Does anyone have an extra $1500 cash or more lying around the house; if you do can you lend it to a neighbor? According to Middletown resident Dora Crisafulli, she was turned away from the Middletown Tax office yesterday (November 29, 2010) when she showed up to pay her property taxes. As it turned out she wasn’t the only one turned away, others who showed up Monday were also turned away.

Mrs. Crisafulli stated that when she arrived at the Middletown tax office Monday morning, there were several people in front of her, all waiting to pay their tax bills before the end of the month. Each resident was told that their payments were late and that their tax bill should have been paid by November 10th (since payments dates were adjusted a few months back to reflect the new bill payment schedule that require taxes due on the 1st of the month), each were told that only cash or certified cashier checks would be accepted as payment. No personal checks, credit or debit cards would be taken. According to Crisafulli, it seemed that a near riot would ensue as people were being turned away.

One elderly woman left the tax office in near tears when she couldn’t pay half of her tax bill by personal check with the remaining balance placed on a credit card. Others in line became angry and agitated at the situation, no one could understand the reasoning behind the sudden change in payment methods and they questioned who had that kind of money lying around?

When it was Crisafulli’s turn at the window she demanded to speak to the office supervisor (Crisafulli couldn’t remember her name) when she was not allowed to use her debit card to pay her taxes and found out that a late charge of nearly $60 was being added to her bill. She was told by the clerk that the supervisor was currently busy but could speak to her shortly. Mrs. Crisafulli let the clerk know that she expected to talk to the supervisor after she returned from the bank with cash.
Upon her return from the bank, Mrs. Crisafulli asked to speak to the office supervisor before paying her tax bill. When the supervisor came out to speak with Mrs. Crisafulli, she was probably sorry that she had, Crisafulli gave her an earful.

Crisafulli stated to me that she had asked why she and others had to pay by cash or by certified cashier’s check (which would have been subjected to an additional $15 bank service fee) when previous to this date other forms of payment were acceptable? She also questioned why she was charged and added misc. interest charge of $51.54 over the normal late interest fee of $8.04, which she had been paying since the Township change its payment cycle a few months earlier (Crisafulli stated that she was on a fixed income and doesn’t always have money available on the first of the month). Previously to the change, she had never been late with a tax payment and she would have paid her tax bill on Friday but the office was closed the day after Thanksgiving.

The woman that Mrs. Crisafulli spoke to informed her that the reason for the changes to the payment policy, was due to the upcoming Tax Lien sale that was being scheduled for late December (Crisafulli stated 12/28 but more than likely in January).

Anyone late in their tax payments, were being required to pay by either cash or certified check and the additional interest charge was for the purpose of processing the paper work for the upcoming tax sale and to place notices in the area newspapers.

After hearing this Mrs. Crisafulli was shaken and upset, she wanted to know how in the world Middletown could place a lien on her house and put it up for sale without her notice or her being delinquent in her tax payments; she never was and had ever been habitually late paying her taxes. She was mortified that her name would appear in the newspapers and that her neighbors would think that she was a tax cheat.

Only after the supervisor stated that she would check on Mrs. Crisafulli’s status, to see if her house was going to be included in the sale and notices, did Crisafulli make her cash payment and request a receipt.

Two hours later the phone rang in the Crisafulli’s house and the voice at the other end of the phone notified Mrs. Crisafulli that she was safe; her house wasn’t being subjected to the tax sale and no notice would be placed in the local newspapers.

Needless to say she was relieved to hear the news, but what about the others, who have been turned away over these last couple of days, have they been told of the upcoming tax sale and whether or not their homes would be included?

This is disturbing; I can’t imagine that Middletown would be so hard up for tax revenues that it would refuse to take late tax payments from residents unless those payments were made with cash. It is paramount to extortion, either you pay us in cash or we will but a lien on your house and then put it up for sale. How can this be possible, is this just a simple case of misunderstanding or is there something more to it? I have never heard of such a thing happening unless a property owner’s taxes were considered habitually past due. I also don’t understand why residents can’t pay with a credit card, the service fees that the banks charge the township are being passed onto the taxpayers, and the Township no longer absorbs those transaction fees. It just makes no sense.

Someone needs to question this before unknowing residents are hit with tax liens against their properties and find themselves in a court fight to keep their homes or businesses.

I placed a phone call to Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes last night to ask if he had known what was happing at the tax office. He stated that he did not but would contact Township Administrator Tony Mercantante, to inquire about it and get back to me.

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Filed under Middletown, property taxes, Sean F. Byrnes, tax liens, tax sale