Category Archives: tax increase

>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
Middletown

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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

Middletown

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

>Video: Sean Byrnes Talks About Recent Tax increase

>Middletown Township Committeeman Sean Byrnes addresses the municipal tax rate increase in front of attendees at the Byrnes & Mahoney Town Hall Meeting held on September 27,2010 at Panera Bread in Middletown.

Included in this video is a ten year Tax Chart that shows the history of tax increases by the Township Committee. The chart shows that during Gerry Scharfenberger’s on the Township Committee (3 as mayor, 2 as deputy mayor) the municipal tax rate has risen by over 41%.

Sean Byrnes states that this year’s increase was larger than the school system’s and County combined.

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Filed under Mary Mahoney, Middletown Township Committee, Sean F. Byrnes, tax chart, tax increase

>Saturday Morning Cartoons: In honor of the "Taxman" Himself Gerry Scharfenberger; The Beatles’s "Taxman"

>It’s Saturday once more, time for a cartoon.

While the Beatles might have dreamt they were back in the time of Merry Olde England, and tried to pay Ringo’s whopping tax bill with the aid of Robin Hood and Little John, Middletown residents aren’t so lucky.

Middletown has its own “Taxman” in Gerry Scharfenberger, who has risen the local tax rate by more than 39% over the past 5 years and if you don’t pay up your home may be taken.

Instead of my usual bowl of Cheerios, I think I need some Pepto Bismal.

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Filed under cheerios, Gerry Scharfenberger, Robin Hood, tax increase, Taxman, The Beatles

>Smoke and Mirrors: Scharfenberger To Pledge Support For Property Reassessments To Deflect Anger Away From 12% Tax Incease

>
Can you believe this one? In a soon to be released press statement, Middletown’s acting mayor Gerry Scharfenberger, will announce his plan to support a town wide property tax reassessment.

It seems that Scharfy and crew have decided that they can’t wait for their usual October surprise. The need to turn the tide on their ill-conceived budget, that has risen the local tax rate by 12% and angered a large majority of residents, has them running scared and desperate for votes.

How much do you think a new Town wide property reassessment will cost, especially after the botched revaluations cost the Township a couple of $ million to complete in the first place?

And really, does Scharfenberger and his buddies think that a reassessment will have a positive effect on the average homeowner? Middletown still needs to collect $45 million worth of taxes from residents to support the budget. The reassessment may lower the overall assessed value of ones home and make it seem as though the average homeowner will get a break, but in actuality the assessed tax rate will climb to offset the decrease in revenues from the lower home assessments.

The assessed tax rate now stands at $0.3975 per $100 of assessed value. That rate will increase as home values are reassessed lower by the township, it will have the same effect on both the School and County portions of the tax bills as well.

Essentially therefore Scharfenberger’s plan is nothing more than a smoke and mirror parlor trick or a game of Three Card Monty, to divert voters anger away from the 12% municipal tax rate increase.

I’ll post the press release as soon as it is available.

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Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown Township, press release, property tax reassessment, property tax revaluation, smoke and mirrors, tax increase

>While I’m At It, Here’s Another Letter From the APP: Who can afford to live in Middletown?

>Since I seem to be reprinting letters to the editor, I might as well add one more.

This letter was written by Bonnie Lynn Isaksen and was printed in Monday’s on-line addition of the Asbury Park Press.
I find it interesting because there seems to be a growing frustration building up in residents over their local tax bills.
For those paying attention, Middletown adopted it’s 2010 budget which included a 12% municipal tax increase on September 7th. The municipal portion of the property tax bill that residents need to fork over to Town Hall has risen from $0.35 to $0.3975 per $100 assessed value:

It’s a nightmare. Middletown taxes have gone higher, there are no homestead rebates this year and no tax credits until next year.

People will be moving out of Middletown. Who can afford to live there anymore? With the new budget 4.5 percent higher than last year, this puts a strain on all its residents. Expecting more foreclosures in Middletown? You bet.

Middletown should send out “pack your bags and get out” notices along with the new, higher tax bills.

Bonnie Lynn Isaksen

MIDDLETOWN

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, letter to the editor, Middletown Township, tax increase

>No Smear Shall Go Unanswered: Latest By Vitkansas Is Not So "Amusing"

>In the latest smear letter directed at Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes, I am glad that the writer finds it amusing to read other peoples letters that point out the short comings of Middletown’s mayor and other members of his beloved Republican Party. The letter, which is written by Michael Vitkansas, has appeared in various local publications recently.

Truth be told, Vitkansas is a strong and active member of the same, elite Middletown Republicans that he tries to protect by spreading misleading and sometimes inflammatory information about others. As a Republican County Committeeman representing his district in Middletown, Vitkansas has often allowed himself to be used as a tool for the local Republican machine and as a reward for his loyalty, he now sits on a number of local boards and commissions in Middletown, which makes his invocation of the “patriots of the TEA Party” in his letter, laughable in and of itself.

In his most recent lapdog attack letter, Vitkansas goes after a fellow letter writer, Jeff Blumengold, for criticizing the poor job that mayor Gerard Scharfenberger and his GOP majority has done in their planning efforts while trying to run Middletown Township over the past 5 years, by attacking Democrat Sean Byrnes.

In his letter, Vitkansas tries to label Byrnes as a socialist liberal who favors COAH, supports teachers, unions and high property taxes in his attempt to persuade readers into believing something that just is not so.

Those that know Committeeman Byrnes would describe him as a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. Over the 3 years that he has been a Middletown committeeman, Byrnes has made many suggestions on how to reign in the local spending that has resulted in tax hikes that total over 39% to the municipal tax rate over the past 5 years (since mayor Scharfenberger has sat on the committee), only to be rebuked by his fellow committee members. He has never voted in support of a Township budget that has included a tax increase, including the most recently adopted 2010 budget which raises the municipal tax rate by nearly12%

Committeeman Byrnes has repeatedly stated over his 3 years on the Township Committee that programs like COAH need to be revamped and revised so that the burden of such programs do not fall onto local taxpayers. Mr. Vitkansas and others that oppose Mr. Byrnes however, point out his vote to rezone the Avaya property in Lincroft, that rezoned the property from industrial to residential in order to meet Middletown’s state mandated COAH obligation, as proof that he is not sincere or straightforward. Allow me to point out though, that the ones that are not being straightforward and sincere with Middletown residents are Vitkansas and his fellow GOP supporters that attack Byrnes on this issue. After all, it was his friends on the republican dominated Middletown Planning & Zoning Boards that came up with the plan to rezone the Avaya property so that the Township would be in compliance with COAH, not Byrnes. At the time, mayor Scharfenberger, Pam Brightbill and Tony Fiore, all current Republican members of the Township Committee, approved and voted for this rezoning as well.

Sean Byrnes knows that having a strong middle-class is the backbone and foundation of our State as well as our Country. He realizes that education plays a leading role in establishing that foundation and supports teachers and unions in general, knowing that without them there would be no middle-class as we know it today. That being said however, Mr. Byrnes has repeatedly been on the record as saying that he supports Gov. Christie’s “Tool Kit”, that reforms need to be made in order to level the playing field during contract negotiations and that state union members should be expected to contribute more to their healthcare costs.

If supporting Committeeman Sean Byrnes and his record as a member of the Middletown Township Committee in his re-election bid this November labels me as being a “socialist liberal” so be it. I love being a socialist liberal who opposes high taxes, government mismanagement and the entrenchment of the long-standing Republican ruling class.

I also happen to think that those “remarkable patriots in the Tea Party movement” that are “growing in numbers more and more with each passing day” are intelligent enough to know the difference and will also support Sean Byrnes and his running mate Mary Mahoney against Republicans that have borrowed, spent and raised local taxes to the point that it will soon become unaffordable to raise a family and live in Middletown.

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Filed under Avaya, COAH, Gov. Chris Christie, Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Republicans, Sean F. Byrnes, tax increase, Tea Party

>Middletown’s Take on the Budget, with Comments

>The following press release was posted on Middletown’s website yesterday. The press release is the Township’s take on the newly adopted budget as usual it is a great spin job and very deceptive because no matter how you slice it, the municipal tax rate has been increased by nearly 12%. I would also point out that what’s in the press release is bull:

Township officials adopted an amended $64.7 million budget that reflects ongoing efforts to cut costs and keep the tax rate stable by cutting spending an additional $400,000.

“This year’s budget reflects a reduction of 40 staff positions, a salary freeze and across-the-board reductions in departmental operating budgets,” said Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger. “In sum, the Township’s amended budget represents a 2.67% increase in total property taxes in an extraordinarily difficult economic year.”

Under the amended budget, the municipal tax rate will increase 4.6 cents to 39.75 cents per $100 of assessed value. This equates to approximately $17 per month for the average Township home assessed at $435,000.

“This year, municipal taxes represent just 23% of a resident’s tax bill, with 62% being levied for schools and 15% for the county,” concluded Scharfenberger.

The adopted budget addresses nearly $10 million in lost revenue, including:

  • $1.6 million cut in state aid.
  • $1.4 million obligation for retroactive pay under resolved labor contracts.
  • $1 million in increased health care costs and nearly $1 million in deferred excess claims from 2009.
  • $900,000 for extraordinary snow and storm clean-up.
  • $1.8 million in deferred pension payments mandated by the state.
  • $1 million in property tax appeal refunds.
  • $400,000 in lost recycling revenue.

Here’s my response:

  1. Middletown knew a state cut in aid was coming, as did every half wit in the State. State revenues were down like $4.0 billion.
  2. Middletown could have easily predicted the wage increases in unresolved contracts. Unless we negotiated zero percent increases for 3 years, we knew this was coming. Again, very predictable.
  3. On health care costs, Middletown knew they underbudgeted by at least $800,000 in 2009, since they did an emergency appropriation (none of our neighboring towns had to do this). So, Middletown started $800,000 in the whole, and Middletown knew they had to increase their appropriation for 2010 by around $1,000,000. Hello. Not to hard to foresee.
  4. $900,000 for snow plowing. Middletown only budgeted $165,000. The town cut the 2009 snow budget way too much, gambling that we would not have snow.
  5. Deferred pensions. Is Scharfenberger kidding? He voted to defer the pension payment. Sean Brynes and Patrick Short voted no. He knew in May 2009 that we would have to pay this in 2010
  6. The $1,000,000 in tax appeals. I don’t know about this one, I don’t think it’s even in the budget.
  7. Recyling lost revenue is correct, hey Schary got something right.
And here’s yet another way to show how misleading this press release is:
The tax rate, last year was $0.35 per $100 assessed value. A home valued at $435,000 would be required to pay $1,526.85. I have a home with an assessed value of $420,000 and paid over $6K in taxes last year.

Under the new tax rate of $0.3975 I will have to pay $1,729.13. This is an 11.7% increase no matter how you look at it.

Using some of the figures presented below:

Last year rate * this year increase = new tax rate
.35 * .0267 = 0.359345 or almost $0.36 per $100 assessed value

This year rate – last year rate = difference or this year increase
.3975 – .35 = .0475

This year increase / this year rate = percent increase
.0475 / .3975 = 11.95%

Amended budget – last year budget = difference
64.7M – 61.8M = 2.9M

Increase in this year / total budget = percent increase in overall budget
2.9M / 64.7M = 4.48%
The numbers are definately being misrepresented at best.

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Filed under adopted budget, budget introduction, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown NJ, Patrick Short, press release, Sean F. Byrnes, State aid cuts, tax appeals, tax increase

>Middletown Passes $64.6 Million Budget Supported by 13.4% Tax Increase

>All you need to know about Tuesday night’s Middletown Township Committee Special Budget Adoption Meeting is that the $64.6M, 2010 Municipal Budget, with its 13.4% tax hike, was adopted by a 4-1 vote. The lone dissenting vote was place by Democratic Committeeman Sean Byrnes.

Here are the simple facts as presented by the Asbury Park Press:

“…The Township Committee adopted Tuesday a $64.6 million municipal budget for 2010 that requires the average homeowner to pay an additional $207.

The $64,574,697 spending plan is $2,768,979, or 4.5 percent, higher than last year’s budget. The amount to be raised by taxes is $45,349,478, up $5,348,365, or 13.4 percent, from the 2009 tax levy….

…The municipal tax rate jumps from 35 cents per $100 of assessed value to 39.75 cents, up 13.6 percent. The average property owner with a home assessed at $435,000 will pay $1,729, up nearly $207, or 13.6 percent, to support the municipal portion of the tax bill….”

I would like to hear from all of those Middletown Republicans that support this budget. It will be interesting to hear how they spin this one.

You can read the whole article as written by Nina Rizzo >>> Here

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Filed under 4% budget cap, Asbury Park Press, Middletown, Sean F. Byrnes, special budget meeting, tax increase