Monday, January 28, 2008

Something is Rotten in Aberdeen

Some comments to my blog have suggested that Aberdeen’s town council members will somehow insulate themselves against any adverse affects from the upcoming property revaluations. Although these allegations were almost certainly false, I decided to take a few minutes to give their properties a cursory review. Sure enough, all of the council members are paying an appropriate level of property taxes. Unfortunately, the tax records also suggest that two council members may have personally benefited at the public’s expense.

In 2001, as part of its road improvement program, Aberdeen Township initiated a road expansion project on Country Road in the Cliffwood section. The program was overseen by CME Associates, the township engineer and the Aberdeen Democratic Party’s single largest benefactor.

15 homes on Country Road sold a portion of their properties to the township for the road widening. The average homeowner received about $1,275 in compensation. Wilhelmina Gumbs received $3,500, over 50% more than anybody else and slightly over 2% the total value of her residence. A few doors down from her, Earle Gumbs received $1,500 from the township (about 1.5% the value of his home) for selling a strip of land half a yard deep and 20 yards long. Ms Gumbs appears on Earle Gumbs’ deed as does Philip Gumbs, the former mayor of Aberdeen.

The following year, Ms. Gumbs was appointed to the town planning board and then elected to the town council on the Democratic ticket.

In 2003, the New Jersey Highway Authority gave Councilman Vincent Vinci a small strip of land for $1. The transaction itself was not unusual - Councilman Vinci owns a corner property and the small strip, useless to the highway authority, simply allowed the councilman to extend his property to the street on both sides.

I’m not proficient in reading land surveys using the metes and bounds system but it appears the strip of land is around 2,000 square feet. Naturally, such an addition should augment the assessment on Councilman Vinci’s property. It didn’t. Councilman Vinci’s property assessment never increased after the land transfer.

What are the chances that Councilwoman Gumbs, prior to being elected but related to a former mayor, should be the single largest benefactor in a municipal project being managed by the local Democrats’ largest political contributor? What are the chances that her relative should receive excessive compensation in the same project?

Why didn’t the township raise Councilman Vinci’s property assessment after he acquired land from the highway authority? After all, Councilwoman Gumb’s property assessment was appropriately reduced after she sold a much smaller parcel of land to the township.

I don’t know the answers to these questions and I’m not accusing anyone of any illegalities. I’m just saying I don't like the smell.
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Truth In Matawan said...

Great research Aberdeener--where did you source this from and can anyone get it? I'd be curious to see if there's similar information for Matawan.

Aberdeener said...

For recent sales, I use the APP site.

For tax records, I use the New Jersey tax records.

To view documents, such as deeds, I use the County Clerk site.

For a quick overview, I use Zillow.

Anonymous said...

Zillow is highly inaccurate as a guide to real estate prices; otherwise, interesting findings.

Anonymous said...

Your info recently on Vinci and Gumbs was great. Where does it go from there though. Will anyone ask at a meeting or call the authorities.

They think they are insulated by the system. They are in fgact just look at Keyport. A Police Officer called and provided inforamtion to the Prosecutors Office and John Kay did nothing. He also was not indicted for failing to execute his official duties. So the AG in Newark spent time and considerable funds to get Merla and the others.
Do not expect anything different from Valentin he is too busy trying to save his job. They messed up hiring him I hear from a lot of lawyers who deal with him.

Another stellar employee of the system.

Anonymous said...

Great site. Some of the responders need to have spell check on their computers. Perhaps it is that they think faster than they can type, which I can undersatnd.

Anonymous said...

The most important thing is that the information keeps coming. With proper spelling or not !

Quite often I too think faster than I type.

So spellcheck can kiss my ass !

Keep the info coming and keep pissing Norman Kauff off !

Nothing else matters if you live in Aberdeen.