Middletown Budget Will Meet 2% Cap Despite No “Tool Kit”

By Nicole Gough

Middletown, March 21- Mayor Anthony Fiore announced that the township committee will introduce a budget that complies with the 2% property tax cap.  He thanked the library board for contributing $500 thousand to the township budget.

Fiore stated on Monday that there would be a budget proposed at the April 4th meeting despite concerns over the extensive paperwork involved in the $500 thousand from the Middletown Library surplus.

Fiore expressed gratitude toward the library board, saying that he was grateful that “reasonable minds came together” in terms of returning 1/2 million dollars of a $1.2 million surplus.  Fiore also acknowledged that this type of occurrence is not unique to Middletown.  Fiore noted that the township has been under stress in regards to the budget, and the money from the surplus would relieve some of that stress.

“The library still has a good surplus,” he said. 

In response to concerns over whether the .5 million would be included in the April 4 budget, Fiore said that papers were already being prepared in order to maintain expediency. 

 “We will propose a budget on April 4 that will be in full compliance with the 2% property tax cap,” said Fiore. 

 Committeeman Gerry Scharfenberger urged citizens to support the governor’s toolkits, stating that “they will give us the tools we need to operate more efficiently.” 

In response to Scharfenberger, Fiore said the toolkits “make sense for us,” as they “provide mayors like myself the opportunity to do more with our budget.”

Even without the toolkit, Fiore was confident that the budget would move forward.

“We will provide a budget without a toolkit,” he said. “We will move forward, as difficult as it is.”

The Township Committee also addressed concerns regarding the paving project initially included in the library surplus.  Because of the returned portion of the surplus, the project would need to be put on hold. 

 Committeeman Kevin Settembrino, who spoke about parking bundling at a library board meeting, responded, saying the project could continue next year if the board had the money, and “they won’t have to incur interest charges.”

Apart from the library initiative and budget legislation, the meeting also focused on promoting volunteer groups and the Live Where You Work program, which rewards citizens who live and work in Middletown and meet certain income requirements.  Committeeman Steve Massell encouraged citizens to advocate the program and inform others whom they thought might qualify.

 Fiore commented on the solar initiative, noting that it will be expanded to include both the library and the sewer authority.  Fiore said Middletown would not only be the greenest town, but “also the one to generate more bang for buck for our taxpayers.”

Fiore also read a proclamation recognizing March as Developmental Disabilities Month and highlighting the contributions of the Arc of Monmouth.

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Middletown | Tags: , , | 16 Comments »

16 Comments on “Middletown Budget Will Meet 2% Cap Despite No “Tool Kit””

  1. Noname said at 8:57 am on March 22nd, 2011:

    Yes the BUDGET will not exceed the 2%cap, but all of the things that are not in the budget and are exempt from the 2% cap will increase, healthcare, “emergency funds”, interest and payments on bonds. If you believe that you taxes will not increase by 2% then keep drinking that kool aid!

  2. Rick Ambrosia said at 9:20 am on March 22nd, 2011:

    I’m disappointed Art…you let this propoganda get posted up, yet you were very, very silent when they were extorting the money from the library funds. Of course, I can understand the partisanship, but c’mon…at least try to be a little more fair. What they did was patently wrong, and you said nothing, wrote nothing. Sad on your part. You’re usually better than this.

  3. brian said at 1:47 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    And the Dem robocalls about higher taxes begin. No matter who we elect, they are addicted to spending and will ALWAYS, ALWAYS raise our taxes………

  4. Chris said at 2:04 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    Rick, you can look at that from the other side as well, and say the library extorts money from the taxpayers, under the cover of a state-mandated formula.

    Also, the municipal tax is only about 20% of the total tax bill, so the municipal cap doesn’t guarantee that total bill won’t go up.

  5. ArtGallagher said at 2:21 pm on March 22nd, 2011:


    Sorry to disappoint you.

    Nicole is a former Trenton Times reporter know writing for MMM part time. This piece is not propaganda, but Nicole’s report of what happened at the Middletown Township Committee meeting last night.

    Sorry you were not satisfied with how I covered the Library surplus issue. I generally avoid writing about an issue unless I am comfortable I have a strong understanding of the facts and dynamics at play. I am pleased that the issue seems to have worked out well for the Township and the Library.

    As I try to do with issues that I think are of importance to my readers, I’ll publish others writings on a subject, in some cases “propaganda” and let my readers have at it in the comments. That happened with the Library surplus issue: http://www.moremonmouthmusings.net/tag/library/

  6. Rick Ambrosia said at 4:01 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    Art, that article was from Fiore. Where are the quotes, news items, comments from the Library trustees? Did you contact Greg Milne? Or any other library trustee? Only one side of the story. And, its all about the township. They HAD to come to some resolution Art, since Fiore and Settembrino strong armed them with threats of going county. That’s not exactly what I would call having the “issue work out”. You won’t get a real point of view if you just let the committee do the talking.

  7. Ohbrother said at 5:10 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    What will the Democrats in Middletown do when the Republicans introduce a budget that is in the 2% range all in?

  8. RickdaDick said at 5:12 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    Hey Rick if you want to read a Democrat blog, go over to your fat friend’s blog of lies and distortions. I don’t see you questioning his lack of fairness and the tons of Democratic propaganda over there.

  9. Rick Ambrosia said at 5:25 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    Very nice post for a coward. Maybe you should man up and use your name when you slam someone. Typical. You must be Scharfy, or Fibber Fiore.

    You can get an accurate account from the APP story about the meeting. Facts only. You can also get the threats they used from other eyewitness accounts of how the library meeting went. Try pulling your head out of your ass when you post so you don’t sound so stupid.

  10. RussianPilgrim said at 6:09 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    Chris, 2:04 p.m.,

    No you can’t “look at it from the otherside and say the library extorts money from the taxpayers, under the cover of a state mandated formula.” What can be said is this perspective is an excellect example of poor critical thinking and twisted logic. There is nothing under the cover, hidden, from the taxpayer. What exists is a very, very generous statuatory funding formula for all municipal public libraries that provides money public libraries to operate with. The extortion was applied by the Township Committee, because they are three years behind in planning for this budgetary crisis that the Republican majority created.

    If they were only looking for about a million they could try selling cell tower leases like they did in 2008. Ask Art if he would like to take a walk down memory lane and rerun his “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” article, which clearly articulates how capable the Republican majority — led by Scharfenberger at the time — is when it comes to mismanaging public money.

    As for “the municipal tax is only about 20% of the total tax bill”, this approach is nothing more than a weak attempt to minimize, mitigate, or ultimately try to obsure the impact of the poor financial skills, understanding and planning of the Middletown Township Committee. Poor managers and pretentious leaders hide and do their best work in the dark. Here they avoid the light of accounability by attempting to hide the factual truth by shifting the blame to, along with the general public’s attention, somewhere else — note that mayorial Leader Fiore blames the Democratic legislature, not the Republican govenor for Middletown’s dire financial situation. Last year Gerry blamed the teachers. The year before that it was John Corizine. Starting to notice a patttern, yet?

    The fact is that last year the amount of money that the Middletown Township Committee had to raise to cover its share of the county and board of education and municipal budget pie by directly taxing Middletown property owners was over $45 million — a 13% increase over the prior year! Monmouth County and the Middletown Board of Education didn’t even come close to that. There are five exceptions to the 2% cap that Leader Fiore says he will not exceed — pensions and health care are two them. When you get your tax bill based upon the new 2011 budget, carefully check the municipal portion and see if some KY gell was enclosed with it, complements of Leader Fiore and the other four republicans.

  11. Chris said at 6:15 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    So who’s this “Concerned Citizens of Middletown” that called my house, and who’s paying for their robocalls? The phone number traces back to Dunellen.

  12. Obama's a Kenyan said at 9:21 pm on March 22nd, 2011:

    I hope whoever put that robocall together has a good lawyer, because they used the name of another organization without their permission. Sounds like the dirtbag Democrats are starting early this year. Also love how people like RussianPilgrim spout the same tired Democrat mantra year after year of fiscal mismanagement and watch their party lose election after election. Funny how no one recognizes the brilliance of Joe Caliendo and his motley crew of Middletown Democrats. Funny how the worst towns in this state are run by Democrats while all the best ones, like Middletown, are run by Republicans.

  13. Kathleen said at 12:25 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    RussianPilgrim -please run for office in Middletown. While articulate and insightful rarely wins the day in this town, it would be nice to at least have it in the running. Your post was right on the money.

  14. ohbrother said at 6:57 am on March 23rd, 2011:

    Who will be the next to recycle through the ranks of the Middletown Democrats and run again for another loss? From my perspective, it’s not going to be an easy road for whoever runs if the budget comes in at 2%

  15. RussianPilgrim said at 12:23 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Obama’s a Kenyan (9:21 p.m.) & ohbrother (6:57 a.m.),

    It is never too early to take a stand and campaign for transparent good government; this kind of campaign should be on-going because it helps shed light on poor and borderline corrupt governments — when it comes to Middletown think Republican committee member Ray O’Grandy who spent time in a federal prision. Bye-the-way, not all corruption is illegal; oddly, it is very often legal — think NJ and Saprano state. Or, think Middletown and bonding and municipal Republican Party chairman. Or, think Township of Middletown Sewerage Authority (TOMSA), which is the elephant grave yard where all loyal republicans (mayors Parkinson and Smith or Stokes and many others) go to continue or get taxpayer funded health care and pension credit. This is also where brian Nelson worked before he followed Mr. Reilly as township attorney. TOMSA gave $350,000 acquired from sewerage fees to help plug holes in the 2010 budget and Leader Fiore has indicated that this will happen again in the 2011 budget.

    You are correct when you speak to being “tired … year after year of fiscal mismangement … in a town, like Middletown, run by Republicans.” This mismangement has been going on for at least 30 years. The Cultural Arts Center is a great example of an excellent vision being financially mismanaged and poorly led. It is built on contaminated land and ran well over budget when it was being built — it has easily cost taxpayers well over $8 million. With just a little foresight rooted in a strategic plan the cultural arts center vision could have been combined with the library renovation and expansion. This would have saved taxpayers the cost of buying and cleaning up contaminated land on Church Street, as well as the cost overruns to complete the project.

    I am confident that the Township will stay within the 2% cap and that it will not use a referendum, this year, to try to exceed it. I’m also very confident, because there are exceptions (pension, health benefits, bonding — something Middletown excells at and emergency funding) to the cap that the tax rate will go up and the tax levy will also go up. (Note, tax rate and tax levy are not the same thing and can be easily misunderstood and misrepresented. Art, how about a piece that an articulates budget increases and caps and exceptions and tax rates and tax levies?)

    The 2010 tax levy that exceeded 13% is what the Republican majority avoided acknowledging last year. The tax levy reflects the amount of money that needs to be raised by property taxes. So, the 13% increase in the tax levy represents the amount that the municipal Middletown government, all by itself, took out of taxpayers pockets in 2010 to get $45 million of the $62 million dollars the Republicans said they needed to run Middletown. Where is the Tea Party when they are really needed? Scharfenberger, Fiorie, Brightbill and Massell blamed all of this on Trenton and promised it would be better when Christie’s “tool kit” was passed.

    Go to the April 4, Township Committee workshop meeting where Leader Fiore will introduce the 2011 budget that will be under the 2% cap not counting the exceptions. Give him a standing ovation for a job well done.

    Looking forward to a response. It migh provide an opportunity to look at the solar projects (Settembrino’s speciality) planned for the municipality in 2011 and 2012 and the high probability for bonding (borrowing with interest) and project costs overuns.

  16. brian said at 1:02 pm on March 23rd, 2011:

    Sorry Mike, still not going to double your readership by clicking onto your blog/screed