Category Archives: taxpayers

As A Matter Of Fact…Business Leaders Agree: Raising the Minimum Wage Makes Sense

by Jon Whiten
Published in NJPP Blog: As a Matter of Fact …

While legislative leaders’ efforts to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour have taken a backseat in recent weeks to the governor’s proposed income tax cut, similar legislation in New York is gaining the backing of some high-profile business advocates.

First up was a Daily News op-ed co-authored by New York City’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg that used free-market ideology to argue for bolstering the minimum wage.

“[The minimum wage] helps taxpayers by reducing the number of people who might otherwise have to rely on public assistance to survive,” Bloomberg and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wrote. “Taxpayers benefit when government dependency is low – and so does the economy.”

The Daily News piece was followed a few days later by an editorial in business bible Crain’s that called for the minimum wage to be raised to $8.50 an hour and tied to inflation going forward. Crain’s said opponents’ arguments that a wage increase will destroy low-paid jobs just aren’t true; it pointed to New York’s 2004 raising of the wage as an example.

“If the change had a cataclysmic effect on businesses that depend heavily on minimum-wage workers, we certainly missed it,” the paper wrote. “Neither, quite obviously, did it shower undeserved riches on the bottom rung of workers.”

If and when the minimum wage bill here in New Jersey starts to pick up steam again, we can only hope some of the state’s leading voices for business will, like Bloomberg and Crain’s, avoid a knee-jerk dismissal of the proposal, and look instead at how it will help our entire economy to flourish.

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Filed under As a Matter of Fact, blog, Michael Bloomberg, minimum wage, New Jersey, New Jersey Policy Perspective, NY Daily News, taxpayers

Letter: Save Our Swim Club

Dear Middletown Mike,

I am writing to you to regarding the Middletown Swim Club. As we all know the township has stated that they do not want to operate the swim club this year. We ( club members) went to the town meeting on Jan 17th to let the township know we were are not happy with their decision.

During the meeting many numbers were thrown about regarding ADA regulations that need to be put into place and also capital improvements that needed to be made. These numbers ranged up to a million dollars with no specifics to clarify to the members . We have done some investigating with the town and discovered a few things that we think people should know.
The swim club has never been a burden to taxpayers . The swim club is set up as a utility and as such must be self sustaining. Only membership money has been used to run the club.

It has been rumored that they may only open 1 pool this year. The cost to open one pool and 4 pools is the same. Also – if the pumps are not run in the other pools they will become damaged and that will cost money to repair.

Most importantly:

The taxpayers of Middletown will have to take on the burden of the bonds that are owed on the swim club. This amount is $225,000.00 if the club is not opened this year. The membership dues are what cover this cost. These bonds will continue for the next 10 years for a total cost to the taxpayer of $1,300,000.

A member committee has been established and will be presenting its plan to the Township for the continued operation of the swim club very soon.

We who belong love our club. We would like all to join and see what we see. No one should have to go to another town and use their pool when we have a perfectly good one in our own town. Support Middletown, keep the money here. Please join the fight to save the pool club.

Regards,

Save Our Swim Club Committee

Kerri Brennan
Middletown

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Filed under bond debt, letter to the editor, Middletown Swim and Tennis Club, Middletown Township Committee, taxpayers

>In The Face Of Tax Increases And Layoffs Middletown’s Mayor Fiore Justifies $20K In Bonuses to Tax Assessors

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It never seizes to amaze me what the news media considers news when it involves Middletown. Case in point; Monday night was Middletown’s monthly Township Committee meeting and the only news coming from the Asbury Park Press, Redbankgreen.com and Middletown Patch about the meeting was that Middletown will be sticking to it’s intention of not exceeding Governor Christie mandated 2% cap on budgets, which is nothing new and has already been reported on numerous times, and that the budget will be introduced on April 4th, which I mentioned over the weekend.

What should have been reported as news by these three is the fact that in the face of a tax increase, employee layoffs and other potential service cuts, Tax Assessor Charles Heck and his assistant will be receiving bonuses worth $20,000 ($15K for Heck, $5K for his assistant).

Mayor Fiore justifies these bonuses because Charles Heck supposedly saved the Township $50,000 while negotiating the price of the recent Township wide reassessment with Reality Appraisal (a former employer of Heck’s) and worked many long hours helping prepare paper work for Reality Appraisal leading up to the reassessment.

When you factor in that Heck is will be receiving a statutory 2.5% raise to his $108,500 salary along with the $15,000 in bonus money, he will be receiving quite a windfall from the Township this year when other will be losing their jobs.
In the audio clip below you can hear Fiore at his best “fibbing” about why the Township Committee is giving Heck his bonus and about how last year, the entire Township Committee was in agreement about providing Heck and his assistant this windfall.
The thing is though, that when I spoke to former Township Committee Sean Byrnes about this he said that he had no recollection of a discussion taking place about Heck saving the Township $50,000. He stated that they wanted to pay him more because of all the tax appeals he had been working on, and that they subsequently approved the $400,000 price tag for reassessment by Reality Appraisal and that they (the Committee) must have worked this deal out later without him. He stated, as I had posted earlier, that last year when he was a Committeeman the Committee attempted to pass a similar resolution to reward Heck but t was dropped when he opposed it.
Fiore really needs to think about this before he opens his mouth again on this subject, I really can’t understand how he or anyone else can justify this when other peoples livelihoods are at stake. How can he look those, about to lose their jobs in the eye and tell them that someone will be receiving a bonus at their expense? If I were in contract negotiating with the Township right now, I wouldn’t cave in and give anything back when something as blatant as this is being waved in my face. I’d play hardball until the end.
It doesn’t make sense to spend $20,000 to save $30,000 when you expect a person to do a job that he is well compensated for already. Middletown tax payers should be benefiting by having the complete $50,000 put towards tax relief, after all it is their money more so than Heck’s.
On a side note, I hope those on the Library Board are paying attention to this. This is a perfect example of what others tried to warn them about before they voted to hand over $500,000 of reserved funds to the Township. The Township Committee can not be trusted to spend OUR money wisely or prudently. It’s OK to give a$15,000 bonus to an already highly compensated tax assessor but it is unconscionable give 1% raises to the lowest paid employees of the library, a raise that would average out to about $1 per week in their paychecks?
Shame on you Kevin Settembrino and the rest of you who sit on the Township Committee for allowing this to move forward.

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

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Filed under bonuses, budget deficit, Charles Heck, layoffs, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, tax increase, taxpayers, Tony Fiore

>Scharfenberger Robo Calls Residents at 10:30 PM To Explain The Importance Of Recycling

>It seems as though I am not the only resident in Middletown to receive a “Robo” call from mayor Scharfenberger last night (mine came just before 9pm) many others received them also, some as late as 10:30 pm. I have been the recipient a number of emails this morning complaining about this Robo call.

The thinly veiled campaign phone call to residents was disguised as a public service message from the mayor, informing residents about the the importance of recycling and the Township’s Recycle to Save program.

One emailer said that they went to Town Hall, ran into Heidi Blunt, the Twp Clerk, and complained about the phone call that they received from Gerry Scharfenberger at 10:30pm last night. She was told by Heidi Blunt that she had received many complaints today from people being called late at night about this. Blunt stated however, that an outside company was outsourced for this process and that they(township) were looking into the problem today to prevent this from happening again.

Another wanted to know if “…those robo-calls have a cost associated with them?” and that they had “..already sent a message to GS via his election website (since I couldn’t find an email address/fax for the Mayors office) expressing my extreme displeasure… last night was such a thinly-veiled campaign message that it sent me over the edge…”

A few emailers are wondering what was so important about the recycling message that it necessitated a Robo call in the first place, after all the Townships newsletter Middletown Matters already devoted a full page to the Recycle to Save program in its latest issue that has been showing up in residents mail boxes along with a half page commentary by Scharfenberger himself talking about the budget as well as the recycling issue.

The one emailer raises a good point, what was the cost of these phone calls? The timing and necessity of the Robo call raises the specter of Gerry using taxpayer dollars to fund a portion of his re-election campaign which is of course unethical and illegal.

I would like to know the cost to the township was for last night’s phone call and if Gerry Scharfenberger has any intention of reimbursing the taxpayers for them.

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Filed under Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Matters, recycle to save, Robo-calls, taxpayers

Citigroup’s Spending Indefensible and Unacceptable (Rep. Elijah Cummings)


From the Hill’s Congressional Blog-

After reading yesterday morning that Citigroup–which has already received $25 billion in bailout money–is adamant in maintaining its $400 million naming rights to the new New York Mets stadium, I was shocked to learn that the company came to the federal government asking for an additional multi-billion dollar lifeline. Surely, if the company has the funds to paste its name to a recreational facility, it has the money to maintain its operations and keep the 52,000 jobs it announced last week it would be eliminating.

While I understand that Citi is under a contractual obligation with the Mets, I cannot understand why the organization seems to be refusing at the very least to explore options out of that contract. This type of spending is indefensible and unacceptable to Citigroup’s new partner and largest investor: the American taxpayer. My constituents in Maryland did not turn over their hard-earned wages to fund a baseball stadium in New York.

One would think that the Mets would be open to finding a new sponsor, as well. Why would any team want its new stadium, the symbol of a new era of victories, to be named after and symbolized by a company claiming to be on the brink of collapse?

I strongly urge Citigroup to find a way out of this contract and instead spend that $400 million on retaining its employees and restoring confidence in its operations. Furthermore, I encourage Citigroup and every other corporation depending on taxpayer dollars to stop the reckless spending, and I again insist that Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke start holding these companies accountable. We cannot continue to pour taxpayer dollars into buckets with holes.

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Filed under bailout, Ben Bernanke, Citi Field, Citigroup, Henry Paulson, NY Mets, Rep. Elijah Cummings, taxpayers

Citigroup’s Spending Indefensible and Unacceptable (Rep. Elijah Cummings)


From the Hill’s Congressional Blog-

After reading yesterday morning that Citigroup–which has already received $25 billion in bailout money–is adamant in maintaining its $400 million naming rights to the new New York Mets stadium, I was shocked to learn that the company came to the federal government asking for an additional multi-billion dollar lifeline. Surely, if the company has the funds to paste its name to a recreational facility, it has the money to maintain its operations and keep the 52,000 jobs it announced last week it would be eliminating.

While I understand that Citi is under a contractual obligation with the Mets, I cannot understand why the organization seems to be refusing at the very least to explore options out of that contract. This type of spending is indefensible and unacceptable to Citigroup’s new partner and largest investor: the American taxpayer. My constituents in Maryland did not turn over their hard-earned wages to fund a baseball stadium in New York.

One would think that the Mets would be open to finding a new sponsor, as well. Why would any team want its new stadium, the symbol of a new era of victories, to be named after and symbolized by a company claiming to be on the brink of collapse?

I strongly urge Citigroup to find a way out of this contract and instead spend that $400 million on retaining its employees and restoring confidence in its operations. Furthermore, I encourage Citigroup and every other corporation depending on taxpayer dollars to stop the reckless spending, and I again insist that Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke start holding these companies accountable. We cannot continue to pour taxpayer dollars into buckets with holes.

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Filed under bailout, Ben Bernanke, Citi Field, Citigroup, Henry Paulson, NY Mets, Rep. Elijah Cummings, taxpayers