Friday, March 07, 2008

Letter from Mike Morris about fiscal crisis

The Inside Clamdigger has received another letter for the blog, and here it is:

Budgetary Crisis Looming for Middletown

"A budgetary crisis is looming in Middletown. There is a $3 million shortfall in revenues and the republican leaders of the committee, Mayor Gerry Scharfenberger and Deputy–Mayor Pam Brightbill, are unwilling to make the hard choices necessary to ensure that there is no municipal tax increase this year. Budget cuts and other cost saving ideas have been routinely dismissed and ridiculed when presented by democratic committeemen Patrick Short and Sean Brynes.

"Why is it not possible to trim 5% from the proposed $60 Million township municipal budget? Freezing all non-essential township overtime is a good start yet more needs to be done. Services rendered to the Middletown Arts Center and the Middletown Swim Club should be charged back to these entities. The township funds the Middletown Library, but yet has no control over its operation. And why is it necessary to give Heidi Abs, the Township Clerk, a 35% salary increase during this time? These are points that need to be addressed.

"In my opinion, the Mayor needs to instruct all department heads (except Chief of Police), to submit budgets that reflect a 5% decrease in spending from last year, in addition to a wage freeze wherever union contracts are not in question. I would also suggest a hiring freeze to keep staff at current levels, ensuring that there are no further increases to current salary, pension and healthcare costs to the township. Simply freezing theses budgets at last year’s levels is not enough.

"Programs or services that are the same or similar to those that are offered by the county or state should be eliminated. If services are temporarily affected then so be it, the township residents will understand if it means that their taxes will not be increased.

"Middletown republicans have been entrenched throughout the township government for over twenty years, feelings of entitlement run deep and no one wants to give up their piece of the pie. Is there any wonder then, why it is so hard for the Mayor and Deputy–Mayor to make the hard choices that are needed to balance this year’s municipal budget?

"It is time for Mayor Scharfenberger to end the rhetoric, stop blaming Trenton for Middletown’s problems. After all, if Monmouth county can pass a budget with no increase, so too can Middletown."

-- Michael Morris, Geary Drive, Middletown NJ, 07748

Thanks for sending the letter Mike, and keep them coming.

Clamdigger's Note -- A few notes on letters for readers: Looks like The Inside Clamdigger is going to do letters also. Please bear this in mind, sign anything that is sent in and remember that everything has to be confirmed before publication. No profanities, and no personal assaults on anyone. I will reserve the right to pull any letter I believe are unsuitable, but I certainly do not mind if anyone disagrees with any opinion I offer.

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