Category Archives: township budget

>Middletown resident seeks accurate Township budget and Municipal Tax increase information

>Press Release

Middletown resident seeks accurate Township budget and Municipal Tax increase information

(Middletown, Monmouth County NJ)-

Patrick Short a long time resident of Middletown stated today that he intends to file an “Order to Show Cause” with the Superior Court of Freehold based on an official mailing he received from the Township of Middletown on the 2010 Township budget and 2010 property tax.

Early last week, Mr. Short received an official letter that was sent to over 21, 000 households in the Middletown Township entitled “2010 Property Tax Fact Sheet”.

Mr. Short claims that official correspondence contains false and misleading information when it comes to the amount of municipal tax that will increase and that he as a resident is expected to pay in 2010.

Mr. Short challenges several passages in the official correspondence; specifically the letter reads, “This year’s final adopted budget which totals $64.7 million reflects a reduction of 40 staff positions…..”, and where the letter reads, “This budget represents a 2.67% increase in property tax.”

Mr. Short argues that the Municipal tax increase for 2010 is really closer to 13.4% and not 2.67% if the Approved 2010 Township Budget that is posted on the Township website is correct. Short compared the line item titled “Amount to be Raised by Taxes for Support of Municipal Budget, for Local tax Municipal Purposes” in the 2010 approved budget to same line item in the approved Amended 2009 Township Budget: $45,349,477.91 as compared to $40,001,112.58, resulting in an increase of $5,348,365 or a 13.4% municipal tax increase to support his claim.

At least fifty (50) residents verified Mr. Short’s claim by checking their past tax receipts.

Mr. Short would not comment on whether he felt the official letter was published for political purposes given Middletown Township’s appointed Mayor, Gerald Scharfenberger, is up for re-election this year and the fact that he has increased Municipal taxes approximately 40% since he has been on the Township Committee. Instead, Short stated that he would encourage Middletown taxpayers to check their past municipal tax receipts to see how much the Municipal taxes have increased.

As for the Township’s claimed to have reduced a total of 40 staff positions, Mr. Short stated that when he compared the 2009 Township payroll to the current 2010 Township payroll dated August 13 2009, he could only find a total reduction of 5 staff positions. “The only way the Township could come close to the numbers that they are citing of a 40 staff reduction would be to compare the staffing levels over a 20 year span, from 1990 to 2010 levels”.

Mr. Short also challenges the Township claim that reads, “The adopted budget made up for nearly $ 10 million in lost revenue in 2010.” Mr. Short found when comparing the General Revenue totals between 2009 and 2010 the revenue shortfall was just over $2 million dollars and not the $10M in lost revenue as the Township claims,

“The Township has an obligation to state the facts and not spin the information. What disturbs me is that the township used taxpayer funding to publish and distribute this false information to every house hold in Middletown. And, the local newspapers published this inaccurate information. Middletown residents are making decisions based on inaccurate information and it needs to be corrected immediately”, stated Short. Short’s intention is challenge is to have the Township of Middletown show how the figures they published and distributed were derived and ultimately have the accurate numbers published so taxpayers can make informed decisions.

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Filed under budget increase, budget introduction, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Patrick Short, press release, property tax cap, tax fact sheet, township budget

It’s Your Town Newsletter Volumn 2, Issue 12, 6/21/10: The Budget Presentation

This is the first of two newsletters coming this week due to the fact that there were two separate Township Committee meetings held on June 21,2010 this month.

This first newsletter deals with the special budget meeting held earlier in the evening before the regularly scheduled meeting of the night. It includes the presentation of the Township budget for calendar year 2010 (which began in January) that was given by Middletown’s CFO Nick Trasente.

The second newsletter coming later in the week will deal with the regular business meeting for the month.

Please read and pass this newsletter on to your friends in Middletown. This budget will affect every homeowners pocketbook, there is a 12.87% increase in our municipal taxes for this year. The budget is 63 pages and can be found here, it has comparissons of what was spent on line items from last year and because of this, residents will be able to see where the increases in the budget are.

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Filed under budget presentation, Its Your Town, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, Nick Trasente, township budget

Middletown Cancels Budget Introduction For Wednesday Night

Well that didn’t take long, I guess the Middletown Municipal Budget wasn’t ready for introduction after all! Or was it because I let the potential budget increase out of the bag? Or was it a simple scheduling conflict that would not enable most of the Township Committee members themselves from being at tomorrow’s meeting? I doubt we’ll find out for sure.
But posted late this afternoon, just before the close of business, on Middletown’s website is this simple note concerning the cancellation of tomorrow nights special budget introduction meeting:
The special meeting that was sheduled for June 2nd has been cancelled.

One has to wonder why this meeting was called for then cancelled so suddenly? If the reason for the cancellation was that it wasn’t possible to have a quorum present in the first place then why make the initial announcement? Didn’t the Township Administrator, Tony Mercantenate, find out if committee members could be present before making the plans for the meeting public?
Or, maybe the meeting was cancelled because of the potential 15% tax increase which seems to be needed in order to close the $5 million budget gap that the leaders of Middletown have done absolutely nothing thus far to close with only 6 months left in the year in which to do it? And just maybe the mayor is upset with Mercantante for scheduling this meeting six day before the June 8th Primary, when he will be challenged for his party’s nomination by Lincroft resident Tony Avallone. Why would the acting mayor want to announce any kind of budget that could potentially include a massive tax increase just before an election anyway?
If this special budget meeting is rescheduled, look for it to be happen sometime within the next two weeks due to the deadline that Trenton has imposed on municipalities to have their budgets ready by. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if this meeting doesn’t happen however because of the fact that this month’s regularly scheduled meetings happen on the 7th and 21st. The introduction of the budget resolution could be done at either of those meetings.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what tricks Gerry and the boys have up their sleeves later this month and hope that CFO Nick Trasente can pull a couple of million dollars out of the Township’s hat.



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Filed under budget deficit, budget meeting, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middeltown Township, Nick Trasente, tax increase, Tony Mercantante, township budget

Can Someone Please Tell Me What Are "Essential Services" ?

I am asking  the question “What are essential services”? Whether it be State, County or Local, what services are truly essential? Law enforcement? Fire and Rescue ? Garbage ? Road repair? Please tell me, I want to know. 
I just got in from tonight’s Middltown Township Committee meeting, a meeting that is still ongoing and sure to last until 11 pm or later, for 45 minutes the discussion revolved around what are essential services.
No one seemed to agree on what services in Middletown were essential.
This discussion came about due to a resolution to pass another temporary budget appropriation, the third so far this year, to keep the township operating. 
Committeemen Patrick Short and Sean Brynes questioned the use of the temporary budget resolutions because they are eating away at the money that needs to be appropriated for the current fiscal year. 
So far, with the adoption of tonight’s temporary budget resolution, Middletown will have already authorize spending 38% of FY 2009’s budget with no savings whatsoever to the tax payers.
It was pointed out by CFO Richard Wright, that the money being doled out is based on FY 2008’s budget and not what is currently going to be needed for FY ’09. 
Committeeman Brynes then needed to point out that based on FY ’08 numbers Middletown is looking at  a $3.79 million deficit if it were in place today, so  for the FY ’09 budget, which hasn’t been adopted yet, and may not be ready for adoption until May, Middletown could be looking at a much larger deficit then $3.79 million if budget constraints were not in place soon.
CFO Wright agreed. That is when the discussion turned to need for essential services.
It appeared to me that Short and Brynes are really trying to save the tax payers of Middletown a rate increase, while Deputy Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger just rolled his eyes seemingly in protection  of the status quo, in not wanting to tell Township department heads to submit budgets with 10%-15 % decreases in funds from the previous year.
Short and Brynes said that all department heads needed to submit  budgets that reflected only essential items or services. They mentioned the Parks and Rec. department as an example. 
Parks and Recreaction Department Head Greg Silva, submitted an initial budget with an 18% increase over last year and so far no one has Told him that he had to trim his request. Silva was asked to supply a breakdown of the costs per person to operated Park Department sponsored events, as well as the per person costs to operate the Cultural Arts Center, to see if there truly are programs that pay for themselves and should be continued or eliminated.  So far he has not done so.   
In these tough financial times can Middletown afford to provide concerts in the park or bus trips to ballgames? Can we close down Town Hall an hour or two early every day to save money or possible go to a 4 day township work week?
No one knows because  it is Short and Brynes asking the questions and it is Scharfenberger and friends who are stonewalling for some reason. 
It seems as though it is  Gerry Scharfenberger and friends that are willing to put forward a huge tax increases instead of spending cuts to close the massive budget deficit that Middletown is facing.
Arguing over whether the value of concerts in that park are more important to residents then leaf pick-ups or streets being plowed after a snow storms is ridiculous, of course it is more important to have leaves picked up and roads cleaned. Who wouldn’t think that unless you are friend with Gerry Scharfenberger?  
      

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Filed under budget deficit, essential services, Gerry Scharfenberger, Middletown, Middletown Township Committee, Patrick Short, Sean F. Byrnes, township budget

Middletown To Receive $31,927 Justice Assistance Grant

According to a press released issued by Congressman Rush Holt,  Middletown will be  able to receive $31,927 from the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, which supports law enforcement, prosecution and courts, prevention and education, corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, technology improvement programs, and victim and witness assistance.

The grant program is a result of the economic recovery bill that Congress passed and President Obama signed last month. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides New Jersey with $29.7 million for law enforcement programs and activities and nearly $18 million in direct funding for local law enforcement agencies.
In order to receive this funding, Middletown needs to complete an application to the Department of Justice first. 
There is no mention in the press release about how long it would be after the application is submitted before before these funds would be available.
It would be nice if this grant would be available to Middletown before the end of the still on going budget process.  Every little bit of funding will help, so I hope that the powers that be have already started the application process.  

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Filed under American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, Central New Jersey, law enforcement grant, Middletown, President Obama, Rush Holt, township budget

Middletown Committeeman Byrnes Questions Mayor’s Demand for Revaluaton Relief

Countering the position taken by Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committeeman Sean F. Brynes, today called upon Township Tax Assessor Charles Heck to refrain from taking any action outside the normal process envisioned for implementation of Middletown’s Revaluation.

“Middletown has delayed implementation of the revaluation for three years, has had its tax assessor suspended, and has had to budget an additional $150,000 for failing to complete the revaluation in 2008,” said Committeeman Byrnes. “In so doing we have forced a majority of our residents to endure higher than justified taxes while the owners of a small percentage of the most valuable real estate in the Township have paid taxes based on extremely low assessments.” Byrnes continued, “We don’t need to spend any more taxpayer dollars delaying or interfering with this process. Further delays will only force a majority of our residents to carry the tax burden for a small minority who own valuable real estate. Current assessment figures suggest that two-thirds of Middletown’s residents will experience a decrease in taxes based on 2008 budget figures.”

“I strongly disagree with the Mayor’s assessment that ‘adjustments need to be made to many of the assessments arrived at by the Realty Appraisal Company’. “I suspect that the bulk of the complaints referenced by the Mayor come from owners of properties with high values that have not been reassessed for decades”, continued Byrnes. “While these residents, like every Middletown resident, have the right to challenge the fairness of an assessment, there is no need at this point, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, for the Township Committee to take action and incur additional unnecessary expense engaging in reassessments.”

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Filed under Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee, property tax revaluation, Realty Appriasal Company, Sean F. Byrnes, tax assessor, township budget

Middletown Committeeman Byrnes Questions Mayor’s Demand for Revaluaton Relief

Countering the position taken by Mayor Gerard P. Scharfenberger, Middletown Township Committeeman Sean F. Brynes, today called upon Township Tax Assessor Charles Heck to refrain from taking any action outside the normal process envisioned for implementation of Middletown’s Revaluation.

“Middletown has delayed implementation of the revaluation for three years, has had its tax assessor suspended, and has had to budget an additional $150,000 for failing to complete the revaluation in 2008,” said Committeeman Byrnes. “In so doing we have forced a majority of our residents to endure higher than justified taxes while the owners of a small percentage of the most valuable real estate in the Township have paid taxes based on extremely low assessments.” Byrnes continued, “We don’t need to spend any more taxpayer dollars delaying or interfering with this process. Further delays will only force a majority of our residents to carry the tax burden for a small minority who own valuable real estate. Current assessment figures suggest that two-thirds of Middletown’s residents will experience a decrease in taxes based on 2008 budget figures.”

“I strongly disagree with the Mayor’s assessment that ‘adjustments need to be made to many of the assessments arrived at by the Realty Appraisal Company’. “I suspect that the bulk of the complaints referenced by the Mayor come from owners of properties with high values that have not been reassessed for decades”, continued Byrnes. “While these residents, like every Middletown resident, have the right to challenge the fairness of an assessment, there is no need at this point, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, for the Township Committee to take action and incur additional unnecessary expense engaging in reassessments.”

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Filed under Mayor Scharfenberger, Middletown Township, Middletown Township Committee, property tax revaluation, Realty Appriasal Company, Sean F. Byrnes, tax assessor, township budget