The Middletown Township Committee is slated to introduce their 2015 budget tonight with a spending decrease of $959,463. The total budget as introduced will be $69,437,466 compared to 2014 spending of $70,396,929.
Decreased non-tax revenues, including parking permits and court fees, of $2.8 million and increases in snow removal costs of $1.3 million and insurance costs of $600,000, were off set by savings from shared services agreements with other municipalities and the Middletown Board of Education, as well as utility cost savings for $223,000.
The tax levy on Township property owners will increase $428,484 to $46,964,220, not including the Township Library. With the library budget of $3,445,649, the overall tax levy increases by $486,502.
A rant against Mayor Stephanie Murray and the rest of the Middletown Township Committee was posted anonymously on the business facebook page of the Middletown Township PBA Local 124 yesterday afternoon.
Written by “I am a police officer in Middletown Township,” the post alleges that Murray and the Township Committee are not paying police officers salaries and claims that officers are subjected to sub-standard working conditions. The anonymous officer claims that the Township Committee gave themselves a 20% raise:
Congressman Chris Smith, center, meet with Middletown Administrator Anthony Mercantante, Public Works Director Ted Maloney, Mayor Stephanie Murray and Committeeman Tony Fiore (right) in the Township’s new Emergency Command Center on the 2nd Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
Congressman Chris Smith visited Howell and Middletown Townships on the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy to assess the progress of recovery and determine remaining needs to be fought for in Washington.
Smith joined Mayor Bill Gato and Deputy Mayor Rob Nicastro at the Mariners Cover community along the Manasasquan River to the the sites of four demolished homes that had been damaged by Sandy and Hurricane Irene in 2011, and one remaining home that is slated for demolition. The homes were purchased by the township with state and federal funding.
In Middletown, Smith joined Mayor Stephanie Murray, Committeeman Tony Fiore, Administrator Anthony Mercantante and Public Works Director Ted Maloney in the Township’s Emergency Command Center from where Fiore directed the rescue and recovery efforts two years earlier in the aftermath of the storm, before touring three sites in the Township still in need of federal support. While in the command center Smith recalled that NBC’s Andrea Mitchell showed up and asked to interview him. “I told her to interview Fiore because he was the one doing the work. She refused, so I spent the interview talking about him and the amazing work he was doing protecting the lives and property of his community.” Fiore was Mayor during the recoveries of Hurricanes Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012.
Sean Powers, a twenty-two year old Middletown volunteer firefighter has been charged with starting the fire that left him with critical burn injuries. William Rohweder, 23 of Middletown was also charged with arson of an abandoned barn in a residential area. The fire at 251 Monmouth Ave was reported to Middletown authorities on Saturday morning at 5:48 AM. Powers’ address is 260 Monmouth Ave.
According to a statement from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, both young men have been charged with one count of second degree Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Arson, one count of second degree Aggravated Arson and one count of third degree Aggravated Assault.
Because of his status as a volunteer firefighter, Powers has also been charged with Official Misconduct, an offense that carries a maximum prison term of ten years and a minimum period of parole ineligibility of five years, upon conviction.
Powers is in critical but stable condition at The Burn Center at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston. Judge Honora O’Brien Kilgallen set Powers bail as R. O. R. (Released On Recognizance) so long as he remains in an in-patient. Upon his release from The Burn Center, his bail will be reviewed.
Middletown Mayor Stephanie Murray, right, and Committeeman Tony Fiore at Memorical Sloan Kettering’s ground breaking last week.
Monmouth County’s largest municipality, Middletown Township, has yet again been named one of the best places to live in the United States by Money Magazine.
Strong economics, a clean environment, a highly educated and stable population, low crime and an abundance of leisure, cultural and recreational opportunities clinched the honor for the Township that has also been named the best run municipality in New Jersey by MoreMonmouthMusings for eight consecutive years.
Middletown Police Chief Robert Oches. Photo courtesy of Middletown Patch
Middletown Police Chief Robert Oches is getting $249,338 for unused sick and vacation time accumulated over his 40 year career upon his retirement at the end of this month. The payout is at Oches current pay scale, despite the fact that the time accumulated over a 40 year period.
The Township Committee approved the payment, reluctantly because it is required by State Law, at Monday night’s meeting.
Committeeman Tony Fiore said that most Oches’ unused time was accumulated prior to 1996 when the Township Committee passed a 150 day cap on retirement awards.
Linda Baum trying to convince voters to support her last summer. facebook photo
Linda Baum, a past and present Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee, presents herself as an advocate of open government and transparency. She even wrote an article on her campaign website about how citizens can made Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests.
Yet, when it comes to her own email correspondence with Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal, Baum is far from open and transparent. She sued the Library Board of Trustees and Township Clerk Heidi Brunt to prevent her emails from being released under an OPRA request made by Brunt on behalf of Township Committeeman Tony Fiore. Fiore is the Township Committee’s representative on the Library Board.
Judge Lawrence M. Lawson ruled on Monday that Baum’s emails with O’Neal are government records and must be released per the OPRA request. Lawson’s decision can be viewed here.
Baum argued that the emails were private, had nothing to do with Library operations, and could be used against her politically.
Fiore asked Brunt to file OPRA requests for the emails that O’Neal exchanged with Baum and Melanie Elmiger from January 2012 and May 15, 2013 when it became apparent that Baum and Elmiger had information about Library business that had only been discussed in executive sessions and was not yet public.
“I look forward to seeing the emails that Linda Baum attempted to illegally block from the public,” Fiore said, “It is a shame that her frivolous lawsuit will cost the taxpayers of Middletown and the Middletown Public Library thousands of dollars that could have been used for other purposes.”