Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aberdeen Township Goes for Broke

Is Aberdeen Township’s all-Democrat council sensing the end is near? How else to explain the sudden rush to break the bank? In the past month alone, the township has awarded $237,071.25 in no-bid contracts to CME Associates and approved another $957,383 in “emergency” appropriations. All this on top of the township’s largest tax increase in history coupled with its largest asset drawdown in history. Question is - will they leave anything for the rest of us when they’re gone?

First, a quick recap of the budget mess. Shortly after winning the election on a platform of “fiscal responsibility”, the township raised taxes by a jaw-dropping 12%. Before considering any “emergency” appropriations, this year’s $15.3 million budget is an 8.8% increase over last year’s $14.1 million budget (Sheet 11). Include emergency appropriations, and the township will be spending $16.3 million, a breathtaking 15% increase over last year’s $14.2 million (Sheet 3a).

Take another look at that number. Assuming there are no further “emergency” appropriations, we’ll be spending 15% more than last year. At that rate of increase, the municipal budget would double every five years.

As for the state mandatory 4% CAPs, the township found a nifty way around that. Under New Jersey State law, “the governing body may, by resolution adopted by a 2/3 vote of the full membership thereof, make emergency temporary appropriations for any purposes for which appropriations may lawfully be made.” (40A:4-20) So, by a supermajority vote, the township can make any “emergency” appropriations and these appropriations are not restricted by state CAPs. Furthermore, an emergency is whatever the township calls an emergency. Meanwhile, the difference between a simple majority and a 2/3 supermajority on the town council is just one vote.

Then there’s the recent bonanza for CME Associates, “coincidentally” the largest donor to the Aberdeen Democratic Executive Committee - $237,071.25 in no-bid contracts. Let’s be clear – it is a complete abrogation of fiduciary duty to not seek lower bids from competent parties when reasonable to do so. $13,081.25 for an “Aberdeen Recreation Master Plan”. $14,250 for engineering services on the former “Ernst Zobel Company Site”. $127,990 for the “Stabilization of an unnamed tributary of Mohingson Brook”. $63,000 for “ADA Accessible Sea Wall Park Improvements”. $18,750 for the “Preliminary Assessment & Limited Site Investigation for Sea Wall Pedestrian Access Project”.

Once again, take another gander at these proposals. CME presented a proposal for an Aberdeen Recreation Master Plan on November 12th, 2007. All the other proposals are within the past two months. In other words, this proposal was rejected by prior management (i.e. Stuart Brown) and then reconsidered and approved after his departure.

The Ernst Zobel Company Site is a piece of land that has been slated for the transit village project. But there is no development on the transit village project. What could the township possibly be doing that couldn’t wait for a developer to do on his dime?

None of the other three projects require any intimate knowledge of the township and could certainly be done for less through competitive bidding. I wonder why they need to be done at all amidst skyrocketing taxes.

The level of reckless spending is unusual even by our council’s spendthrift standards. Is this a last gasp to solicit even more campaign contributions or has the council chosen to go out with a bang? Whatever the case, this council sure does enjoy spending other people’s money.
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brianinthebeach said...

At the meeting two weeks ago I asked them why we don't put these out for bid. I said we lose a competitive edge by not doing this. They claim they are our town engineer and are familiar with the town and ranked 3rd in the state by engineering jobs. I told them I don't doubt they do a good job but if they say a job costs $120,000 and another firm says $90,000 and we still really like CME better fine, give them the job at a reduced price say $100,000 and save us $20,000. I believe that "due diligence" is necessary for these things and I stated my displeasure.

Yes CME is handed everything and it is ridiculous and the fact that we don't put it out to competitive bid is a joke, it's a slap in the face. Are the town council people working for us? or against us? It is a JOKE that we don’t have at least two other companies bidding for these jobs! When it comes to CME they could say any dollar amount and get the job.

CME must be stopped! If they are the best or give the best price and can do the job, sign them up! But to just hand them everything is wrong and makes no sense!


Father of ARTIST said...

wait a minnute
why are they no bid?
THIS IS the darn KILLEr
because they are too hard and complicated to describe the need.
how did they get some on to take the blasted money??

What about that??
I saw all that NON BID STUFF IT killed me and I am thankfull you mentioned it,cause I am horriable st explaing stuff...
what say everybody!

Father of ARTIST said...

ok this is just like the school doc gets 500$ per case,
even though I use my own doc,
they try to curcumvent ,his profesion
and it is bias to have this happen and even worst at 500 a clip!
what happeened to a rate? for a steady flow,NO NO NO they get paid that so they do what they want them to
I know this to be
Dr dornfeild,the HS doc, has signed off on my girls Home Instruction as did the bOARD.
IT was not untill Glastien asked that school doctor Dornfeild to refer my girl to Dr Dikeman, and had him say he is not comfortable signing off any more did DR DORNFEILD ask this..after the fact
I have proff cause I had spoke to that offcie and the other.
further more
the Dikemans office allready has my girls records even thiough I did not say she was going and she didnt and will not
MY question is
was both of these docs paid 500 each ,even though neither ever saw her?
talked to her and had no premission to even glance at her information
The code is as shown on my documents and ,it was oked and AMA the principal removed her home instruction demanding my girl attend school...even though she had a DRS order to stay in Home instruction and they then BAD MOUTHED ME
anyone out there know a GOOD EDUCATION ATORNEY?
what ever

Large Taxpayer said...

I would like a list of the saleries of all town employees and all benefits. In fact I feel it should be published in the newspaper. We as tax payers are the ones who foot the bills....how do i get this?

Aberdeener said...

The easiest way to get a list of salaries is at the APP's Data Universe. Just select a category under Public Payroll.

Keep in mind, these are the numbers from 2007, not 2008.