Category Archives: tax payers

A Blueprint For Middletown To Follow On How A Finance Committee Could Be Structured And Utilized

For the past few years Middletown Committeeman Sean Byrnes has been advocating for a “Finance Committee” to be form in Middletown so that the Township can get a better grasp on it’s finances and not have to wait several months into the calendar year before adopting a budget.

Byrnes has argued that the way the budget process is now handled is inefficient and antiquated and needs to be restructured in such a way that would provide better over site of spending and identify in advance any trends that may prove problematic during the year.

Each time Byrnes has suggested the idea of a finance committee he has be rebuffed by the Republicans that have controlled the township committee for the greater part of the last quarter century.

Their reasoning behind opposing such a committee is weak at best. I have heard everything from the cost of setting up new committee (which would be negligible being it would be staffed with members of the Township Committee, the Town Administrator and volunteers) to the reasoning that Township Committee members act as their own finance committee to oversee and question spending (even though none are qualified to due so).


Sean Byrnes has counter argued that other towns, major corporations and most charities group and non-profit organization have them. It is simply a good business practice.
Recently Jack Archibald, a councilman in Atlantic Highlands and a contributing columnist for the Atlantic Highlands Herald, wrote a column explaining how the budget process works in Atlantic Highlands. Can you guess what is mentioned in that column? That’s right a Finance Committee.

Archibald pretty much lays out the blueprint for Middletown on how to structure and use a Finance Committee:
“…our municipal budget began to take shape in December. At that time, our administrator, Adam Hubeny, and Chief Financial Officer Gerry Gagliano, hold kick-off meetings with various department heads and discuss their needs for the coming year. Once that is compiled, a rough draft of a budget is presented to the finance committee. In general, the finance committee is comprised of three council members who report back to either the Borough Council or Township Committee as a whole.

In a few towns, the governing body has formed a citizens committee to review and make suggestions to the budget. While this public input is welcome, municipal accounting is a very specialized practice, and crafting a municipal budget is subject to many state regulations and caps that do not seem to make much sense to the average citizen….”
It makes perfect sense, the administrator, the CFO, 3 Committee members and maybe some input from qualified residents get together make recommendations and then draft preliminary budget document to be submitted to the Mayor and other members of the township committee to consider.
The only reason I can think of for not forming a Finance Committee is that the majority in charge doesn’t want others to see where and how the Middletown taxpayers money is being spent on needless pet projects or salaries and benefits for loyal GOPers who make a living from the town in one way or another.

3 Comments

Filed under Atlantic Highlands Herald, budget planning, Finance Committee, Middletown, Sean F. Byrnes, tax payers

AP: NJ biz travel rules would be looser under Christie

ANGELA DELLI SANTI,The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. – The Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, who regularly overspent the government rate when traveling as the state’s top prosecutor, said if he’s elected that his top advisers would be allowed to travel with fewer travel restrictions than under the current administration , at taxpayers’ expense.

Chris Christie, the former U.S. attorney who has campaigned on a platform of ethical integrity and cutting government waste, said members of his Cabinet could bill taxpayers for overnight stays in expensive hotels if cheaper accommodations aren’t available.

State employees are currently required to stay within the government rate and are barred from most overnight trips, according to a review of the Corzine administration’s travel policy guidelines.

A review of Christie’s travel history through documents provided in a public records request showed he regularly exceeded the government lodging allowance while traveling as U.S. attorney, frequently staying at luxury hotels in New Jersey, across the United States and abroad. He said the trips were always justified and he always sought out the government rate before booking more expensive accommodations. He does not appear to have curtailed his travel due to the economic recession. “I would want my Cabinet to follow the same rules I followed as U.S. attorney,” Christie said Thursday at a diner stop in the blue-collar community of West Deptford. “If they were traveling and they could find the government rate, they should use the government rate. If they couldn’t, they shouldn’t sleep on a park bench. They should find the best rate they could.”

Christie said he logged more than 160,000 miles while serving as U.S. attorney for seven years during President George W. Bush’s two terms. During that time, he stayed in some of the country’s most luxurious and trendiest hotels, including the Mandarin in Washington, the NineZero in Boston and the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando. Sometimes the tab fell within the government allowance.

However, his hotel bills occasionally exceeded $400 per night and the tab was higher than the government ceiling on 14 of 16 business trips Christie took in 2008. Five nights in London were $401 a night per room for him and his top deputy, Michele Brown.

Gov. Jon Corzine issued a memo early in his first term saying he would continue to enforce business travel restrictions for state employees that his predecessor, Gov. Richard Codey, had instituted. Those guidelines require anybody making travel arrangements for state employees to search a Web site specializing in government-rate rooms. All travel must be preapproved at least two weeks in advance to allow greater possibility for savings.

Reimbursement costs for official travel must not exceed the federal per diem rates, according to the guidelines.

Corzine said his opponent’s travel records are evidence that Christie has a different set of rules for himself than everyone else, a line the Corzine campaign has consistently used.

Christie has come under scrutiny for railing against Democrats’ excessive spending while billing taxpayers for high-end business travel. The candidate disavowed any hypocrisy, saying his travel was necessary and exceeding the rate permissible.

“It wasn’t waste,” he said. “I had to go someplace for part of my job. We tried to get the government rate. We couldn’t. So my only alternative would have been to not go.”

Christie or Brown often signed a required waiver approving additional expenses; his reimbursement vouchers were certified by a third party.

Christie said his secretary was instructed to look first for accommodations within the government rate when she booked his travel. He said he sometimes needed to stay at a specific hotel because he was giving a speech there early the next morning.

His stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando in January 2008 cost taxpayers $287 plus taxes and fees, more than twice the government’s allowance of $121. The Orlando area has about 450 hotels.

Christie also billed taxpayers for in-state overnight stays , in Atlantic City and Cape May, for example. Such trips are barred by Corzine’s administration.

Corzine, who became a multimillionaire on Wall Street and is the former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, pays all his own travel expenses.

Leave a comment

Filed under Associated Press, Chris Christie, Gov. Jon Corzine, tax payers

Short and Byrnes Looking Out For Middletown Taxpayers

I received the following letter from Middletown resident Paul Jansen:

In our current economic crisis, everyone is suffering, 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 towns seriously and helping those who need the most help — the taxpayers.

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? I applaud the Middletown Township Committee for deciding to forgo its pay. It should go one step further by eliminating the stipend and health benefits of all committee appointees, particularly sewer authority members.

The committee also should ask all appointed professionals, such as lawyers and engineers, to accept a reduction in the contracts that were negotiated in December. This is being suggested by committeemen Patrick Short and Sean Byrnes.

Some say Short and Byrnes criticize insignificant savings, when in reality they are looking to find significant savings in items that are not self-funded.

Homeowners and taxpayers deserve a committee that is going to set the tone for a responsible township budget. This is not happening, and more than 20 percent of this year’s budget has already been spent.

Short and Byrnes are the kind of positive, creative thinkers required to lead our town. They are putting the taxpayer first by looking for ways to allow them to keep more of what they earn.

Paul J. Jansen
MIDDLETOWN

Leave a comment

Filed under Budget, Middletown Democrats, Middletown Township, Patrick Short, Sean F. Byrnes, tax payers

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

Leave a comment

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

01/24/09: President Obama’s Weekly Address

In his first weekly address since being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President Barack Obama discussed how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will jump-start the economy.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, economic downturn, energy projects, health insurance, infrastructure, President Obama, Science Education, Stronger Schools, tax payers, weekly address

01/24/09: President Obama’s Weekly Address

In his first weekly address since being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President Barack Obama discussed how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan will jump-start the economy.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, economic downturn, energy projects, health insurance, infrastructure, President Obama, Science Education, Stronger Schools, tax payers, weekly address