Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Would Joey Do

For the three or four people out there who are wondering what I would do if I were mayor of Aberdeen (not that I ever will be), these would be my plans:

Property Taxes – There are only two ways to cut property taxes – cut spending and increase revenue. For those property owners who have fallen behind in their payments, the tax collector should be authorized to contact and negotiate payment plans just like IRS agents before people get hit with huge interest charges. This year, 100 properties are likely going to tax sale, most for small amounts. (Hat tip to AberdeenNJlife)

Payroll Cuts – Offer every municipal employee the opportunity to purchase up to 2 weeks vacation time. In the private sector, this is considered a huge perk and it’s far more amenable than mandatory furloughs.

Professional Services – Establish a threshold above which the town is required to issue an RFQ – request for quote. The township is not required to accept the lowest bid but all bidders will feel pressured to offer competitive pricing.

Shared Services – Pursue shared services with neighboring municipalities, particularly in police services and sanitation. If Matawan isn’t interested, check with the other neighboring towns.

Township Engineer – It makes no sense that the person charged with ensuring all engineering projects are cost effective earns more as those projects become less cost effective. Bar the township engineer from directly participating in any engineering projects.

Better Financial Planning – We’ve been spending down our reserves by going over budget. Why are we going over budget? The township first discussed changing healthcare plans in 2008. Why the delay? We borrowed money to conduct the revaluations so far in advance that much of the loan was paid back before we ever paid for the revaluations. Why?

Legal Fees – The school board hosts a committee meeting about two weeks prior to the action meeting to give board members and the public the opportunity to review and comment upon action items. The school board has also ended the practice of having an attorney present when no action will be taken, meaning nearly all the committee meetings. The town council could adopt the same practice in place of the current schedule of workshop meetings preceding regular meetings that same night. Doing so would be better governance and cut several thousands of dollars of legal fees.

The town council should also avoid pursuing legal action when there’s little chance of success.

Land Development – I would aggressively pursue commercial development through massive tax giveaways that gradually disappear over a ten-year period using the PILOT program. Any tax revenue we’d generate in the meantime is more than we’re getting now and without the tax giveaways we’re unlikely to see any near-term commercial developments. As for residential development, I would not grant variances to any residential development that does not “pay down” our existing COAH obligations. The costs of COAH are too high to justify residential development.

COAH – Nobody wants “the projects” built in their neighborhoods. The argument that these homes will go to cops, teachers, and other public workers is nonsense. Most young couples have dual incomes. Plus, there’s a waiting list to get these homes and, by the time a name is called, cops and teachers would likely be earning above the income limits. I would not provide any variances to any development seeking to fulfill a “projected” COAH obligation. In the meantime, let’s see what the courts say about current lawsuits objecting to the new COAH regulations before approving any new COAH developments.

Assessments – This is one of my old ideas that may not be viable. The township has a lot of discretion when to reassess a property. I would allow property owners to schedule their properties assessments so long as they do so once every ten years and the classification of the property hasn’t changed. That way, we’d reduce the tax penalty for improving one’s property and provide a new revenue source by charging a fee for the reassessment. We could also use the service to provide property appraisals for homeowners seeking to re-finance their properties. Since we’d have continuous rolling assessments, we should be able to avoid the costs of town-wide property revaluations.

Merger – I still support merging Aberdeen and Matawan. The opportunities to cut costs, develop Main St. and the transit village, and petition Trenton for increased funding outweigh the risks.

Grants Writer – Share the expense of a full-time grants writer with Matawan and the school district to pursue public and private grants. A one-year trial period would be worthwhile. (This idea was originally proposed by Ken Aitken.)

Newsletter – Have the township newsletter published and promoted by an independent company that can attract paid advertising.

Naming Opportunities – Similar to the highway programs, allow companies and individuals to sponsor public areas and assume the maintenance expenses. We can also lease the naming rights to parks and fields.

Votes – As a school board member, I have abstained from voting on the addition of a friend to the district’s substitute list. Gambino and Delaney recused themselves from appointing someone who worked for the New Jersey Department of Education. Yet, our councilmen brazenly vote to give million dollar appointments to their biggest contributor. I would bar any councilman from participating in any way as regards a person or company with whom he as a strong relationship.

Appointments – All appointments should be made upon the recommendation of the town manager. The town manager should also be tasked with ensuring the township receives at least three qualified applications for each appointment.

Candidate Debates – The school district sponsors a televised debate among the candidates, moderated by the league of women voters. By contrast, immediately following the Republicans announcing a Meet the Candidates Night, the Democrats scheduled a last-minute H1N1 presentation to starve the Republicans of any news coverage. (Hat tip to AberdeenNJlife again) The town council should adopt the school district's policy of sponsoring a televised debate among candidates.

Public Meetings – Public meetings should be televised and their minutes posted in a timely manner.
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Anonymous said...

Damn right. But?

1. Wish you had started the post with the millions of tax dollars that are corruptly spent by the "unelected ruler" of Aberdeen.

2. Legal fees and associated nonsensical fees paid when management pursues such legal idiotic and unnecessary scenarios ie...water tower, PBA internal squabbles and contract negotiations and more, which only feeds the "unelected ruler" of Aberdeen.

3. Shared services with the Matawan and Aberdeen Police Departments will never happen. Too much power and political muscle. Besides the "unelected ruler" of Aberdeen would never share power with anyone or our money that he plays "Santa" with.

4. Township engineer primarily feeds the "unelected ruler" of Aberdeen.

You see there ares many great ideas in this post that will never happen because of the financial and power hungry interests of the "unelected ruler" of Aberdeen.

The "unofficial ruler" is corrupt and that makes the entire process and management of Aberdeen corrupt.

The truth is a terrible thing !

Anonymous said...

Unofficial my ass! Kauff runs the town. He runs it right into the ground that is.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your thoughts on being mayor, however, much like your BOE goals, most of your ideas are not feasible and/or ineffective. See below:

Property Taxes
I agree on cutting spending, but the rest makes no sense. Why would the Township negotiate payment plans when a tax sale returns 100% of the amounts outstanding. Once an entity buys the tax debt, the Township realizes 100% of the amount owed and the owner negotiates a payment plan with the entity that bought the debt. If you don't pay your taxes, then you pay huge interest charges. The rest of us pay on time and working out payment plans with deadbeats merely encourages people to not pay their taxes.

Payroll Cuts
Not a terrible idea, but there are huge barriers to this because of existing employment contracts. You should know that as a BOE member who's budget is essentially handcuffed by existing contracts. A better idea is to freeze hiring until the economy and taxpayers' salaries catch up to the current property tax burden. (Note: the BOE could use a lesson in hiring freezes, but we'll save that for another day)

Professional Services
Generally agreed and I am aware of the backlash against CME, etc. on this blog. However, whoever the Township chooses to perform these services, especially civil engineering, must be top-notch. Soliciting bids would put enormous pressure on the the governing body to take the lowest one. As a professional myself, I can tell you that you don't want the cheapest engineer, lawyer or doctor doing vital work for you. While CME may be more expensive than alternative firms, I have never read an article or heard of them failing to be diligent on any project. A better approach would be to negotiate better rates with the Township's existing professionals, who we know provide good work and have vast experience with our community.

Shared Services
Completely agreed and impossible to argue with.

Township Engineer
This is untrue. The engineer receives a portion of the budget for Township projects which are put out to bid. The bid controls how much the engineer gets, not the engineer's discretion. The most significant projects are the road projects, which are put out to bid and awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. For planning/zoning, the engineer is paid from the applicant's escrow, not taxpayer money and the applicant's project determines the scope of the engineer's review. In short, I do not understand how you would "bar the township engineer from directly participating in any engineering projects." That doesn't make any sense.

Better Financial Planning
I am not well-versed enough on the two issues you cite to critique your analysis. Therefore, unlike most on this blog, I will refrain from doing so. However, I found this quote in your July '08 Financial Wizardry post: "Who do you trust more? Columbia Bank or bonds issued by AIG?" So, I'm not sure I'd leave it to you either...

Legal Fees
Whole-heartedly agree, especialy with respect to the case you cite.

Land Development
Agree in principle, but this is much easier said than done. Anytime the public sector seeks to encourage the private sector to act, there are pitfalls galore.

Agreed. Can't argue with you.

This is a terrible idea. First, it would make the cost of periodic revaluations, which occur only when the assessed/actual value ratio falls below a certain level, into an annual money pit. Or worse, a crippling cost sprung upon the Township when the economy is bad and everyone wants to reassess their homes at the bottom of the market. Second, it basically allows people to determine their own taxes in ten-year increments and throws all the abatement periods out the window. It would destroy the Township's ability to predict revenue and result in huge swings in the property tax rate. It sounds great to me as a taxpayer, but objectively, it undermines the entire system and would likely bankrupt the Township in any future economic downturn.

(Continued in next post)

Anonymous said...

(Previous Post Continued)

This is also a terrible idea. I know you're the "Aberdeener" but have you looked at Matawan's financial situation lately. Aberdeen loses big-time in any merger. The cost savings is minimal compared to the disaster Aberdeen would subsume from Matawan. Further, Matawan's infrastructure is crumbling--just look at their police station and other town buildings. Now, I know there's dissent on Aberdeen's road program on this blog, but take a ride through Matawan and then tell me Aberdeen's investment in its roads isn't worth it. Simply, merger is not in Aberdeen's best interest. Plus, you can't cite funding from Trenton to bolster your argument. Trenton only cares about itself, Newark, Camden, Bergen County and Essex County because that's where all the Dem votes are that keep them in power. (And that's coming from a registered Dem myself).

Grants Writer
Sounds like a good idea to me.

Does anyone read it anyway?

Naming Opportunities
This is awful. I can't wait to take my kids to "A&P Recreational Area," instead of Ross Field to play soccer. I'm even more excited about my kids playing softball at "Stop & Shop Field" instead of Storyland Park. C'mon, Joey... really?

Agreed, can't argue with you.

This is another one where you clearly have no idea. I'd venture to guess that no more than 12 people that actually want the 10 seats on either the Planning or Zoning Boards. Three people for each appointment, seriously? I mean there were empty seats on those boards for a long time that no one wanted, let alone three people for each...

Candidate Debates
Good idea in principle, but utterly worthless. I think about 5% of all registered voters even watched the gubernatorial debate, let alone people running in Aberdeen Township. (Also, I think this is where your personal politics interject into this blog, but I guess that's your right as the author)

Public Meetings
Again, great in principle, but utterly worthless.

As I said about forty-two paragraphs ago, I appreciate your thoughts on being mayor, but much like your BOE goals, most of your ideas are not viable. However, I only said most, and it only takes one to have an effect on how things are done.

--Avid Reader, but admittedly, Often a Vehement Critic of this Blog

Aberdeener said...

Avid Reader,

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I'll try to reply in brief but may have to come back to this later.

Property Taxes - The point here is to keep people in their homes. I think the plan would only delay about $150,000 in payments, which our reserves could more than cover.

Payroll Cuts - We need every teacher every day. I don't think it's the same story by the township employees. I agree with you we need to limit new hires.

Professional Services - On the school board, I never felt compelled to find the cheapest lawyer. But the attorney did drop his rates $15/hour when he heard how much we were paying our old attorney. I don't see any harm in requesting an RFQ. We simply don't know what is a fair price for many of these projects.

Township Engineer - There have been several projects with cost overruns and the engineer has benefited from the cost overruns. I'd prefer an engineer whose financial interests didn't run contrary to the town's interests.

Financing - Score for you on AIG. I'd forgotten about that.

Assessments - Assessments don't effect town revenue. Property owners wouldn't need to reassess in down markets because the equalization factor automatically kicks in. Basically, you'd reassess your property immediately prior to any major additions so you could avoid the tax penalty.

Merger - Let's do the numbers. How much money would it cost to bring Matawan back from the brink?

Naming Opportunities - Stadiums do it. Would it be so bad?

Appointments - This goes for professional services and employees, not political appointments.

Candidate Debates - Nobody attends or watches but they get reported in the press.

Public Meetings - Why not?

To paraphrase Ed Koch, if you agree with me on a couple of things, well that's a couple more than the other guy has to offer. :)

Anonymous said...

Aberdeener, much like the "avid reader" above, I do not understand the following statement which you made:

"Bar the township engineer from directly participating in any engineering projects."

If the Township Engineer is barred from participating in engineering projects, what exactly do you envision the Township Engineer doing? And who would be overseeing the engineering projects?

Aberdeener said...

I envision the town engineer acting as a project manager on engineering projects, ensuring that all players adhere to budgets, timelines, and product quality. The town engineer would also continue to review variance requests and the like from the locals.

I believe we'd be best served by staffing a township engineer rather than hiring a company.

Anonymous said...

Aberdeen will never staff and in house engineer as long as Kauff is here and in control. While the question has been asked Mayor Sobel will unashamedly lie over and over to the taxpayers.

Some time back when questioned on this exact subject Mayor responded in the exact same manner he has always done. Mayor Sobel has been nothing more then a ventriloquist dummy for Kauff.

Thanks Dave for nothing. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

F the Kauffkins said...

The reason is simple as to why an inhouse engineer will never happen in this town.

$1,500,000.00 annually from the residents to CM&E and of course our Normy and his band of forty thieves.

Where is my tar and feather kit?

Adieu Mayor Soble you won't be missed

Anonymous said...

A while back the New York post did an editorial entitled It's the taxes stupid. It was shown with a picture of our idiot Governor John Corzine.

If we had a local paper I would suggest the following. It's the corruption voters. This article would be shown with a picture of Norman Kauff and his henchmen front and center.

Politics and the Mafia not much of a difference if you compare the two.

Yes Aberdeen voters it is just that simple.

6 days until Election Day.


Republican flier Great Job said...

Good job. Glad to see the R's going after Kauff and Company. Finally!
The newest flier in the mail was very good. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

CME Engineering is the number 2 campaign contributor in the entire State of NJ. They buy their work with campaign donations which are small compared to fees earned from contracts.

Using Aberdeen as an example: $28,000 of campaign contributions buys them over $1 million in engineering fees. That means that they pay about 28 cents for each $100 in fees - pretty cheap cost to keep Aberdeen's business from their perspective. Who cares if Aberdeen often pays to fix their mistakes by paying them over and over again.

If you like this scenario, vote to keep the TagLikeaWeenie Team.

Reorg meeting will be very interesting said...

While I enjoy the title of this post. The real thing we need to worry about is "what will the newly elected officials do ?". We know the answer will not be pretty if CME wins. Oops,I mean if the Democrats win.

That will simply be new faces with the exact same Kauff led corruption. Right Normy? Right Fred? Right Jimmy? Right Greg? Right Margaret? Right Dave Samuel's owner of and chief scumbag at CME?

Read the letter to Norm said...

Check out the letter from Coren to Norm on the "Mark Coren say it ain't so" (again) post at the bottom. The last post is entitled "letter from Coreena to Norm". It is F'n genius!

Anonymous said...

Disrespectful BUT VERY FUNNY. Kind of just as disrespectful and contemptible as Kauff and Company have been the past twelve years towards the taxpayers of Aberdeen.

Right Normy?

Anonymous said...

Still laughing about Coreena letter.

Thanks to whomever wrote that.

PinehurstDon said...

Picked up my Bayshore Independent and there it is an article today in which the mysterious and ethically corrupt David CM&E Samuels actually speaks to the press.

Don't waste your time reading it. It is just more lies put out just before the election.

Now CME's Dave Samuel's wants us to believe that the senior center facility, that was supposed to be built on Church Street a couple of years ago, now all of a sudden just before the election there is news from CME. Guess who they are blaming now. Not Mark Coren and Norman kauff who let that thing sit there for over twenty years. No Samuel's is blaming the NJDEP.

It was probably intentionally delayed by Kauff just long enough probably for CME to spend all of the grant money the state or county probably gave to Aberdeen for the site to be investigated. For years now study after study by CME and Dave Samuel's and we get NOTHING but more excuses from the corrupt and taxpayer profiting head of CME.

The Democrats know no shame !

Another part of the paper has an article quoting the town manager as he is announcing, once again just before election day, that an old paint factory by the train tracks will be investigated and possibly used in years to come. All these years now and now, just now a few days before the elections it needs to be announced publicly. The factory has probably sat there for twenty years or more and now the leadership wants to say something. Most of the damn town does not even know it is even there. But now we get to hear that there may be some taxpayer benefit from the site. It also mentions that the site will have to be "investigated". Sure it has to be "investigated" and guess by who? CME and Dave Samuels of course. What a Kuffincidence that one is. More money for CME and in turn our Norman Kauff.

This town is a joke.

If you vote for the "Kauff Circus and Freak Show" to continue all I can say is you get what you deserve.

More corruption is what you will get no doubt and just our ethically challenged Norman Kauff Esq. still in control of the Aberdeen ATM. That piece of garbage will just give all of our tax dollars to his friends like CME.

Anonymous said...

The Senior Center was a 2007 Democrat Campaign promise, just see their mailers, here:


(sorry if the HTML tags do not work properly)

I love how the "Fake Leaders" letter claims they've scheduled construction (tick tock, 2 years later..) The "Fake Leaders" letter also mentions the improvement of Rt 34 and Lloyd Road beginning in 2008 (tick tock, 2 years later..)

Vote the blue and yellow weenie team out!

Anonymous said...

Senior Center

Anonymous said...

Fake Leaders

THE TRUTH said...



Duke said...

The "Senior Center" property languishes, choked with weeds. The banner on Church Street, announcing that it is "coming soon", hangs weathered and cracked by the sun. At times it comes loose from the fence and blows freely in the wind...
A property that lays fallow, except for the engineering and study fees for CME, and the planning fees to Coppola and Associates. These fees then find their way into the Democrat treasury.

The Fake Truth is an idiot said...

Duke speaks the absolute truth.

THE TRUTH said...




Anonymous said...

The Vinny thing was funny. True and very funny. I hear Vinny and Ronald Reagen had the same barber.

Pat said...

Thanks for the hat tips. I noticed that some of your readers noticed the former paint plant story in the paper and had the same reaction I did. I offer a belated hat tip to them, having not seen their comments until tonight.

I think the effect of your idea of encouraging homeowners to renovate their homes by allowing them to set their home's valuation just before a major renovation could be better accomplished by delaying tax reassessment on renovations for a set period of time. You could even encourage desirable new construction and renovations by current residents and/or newcomers by the way you formulate the rules. Check out the pros and cons of Erie, Pennsylvania's LERTA program http://www.erie.pa.us/Departments/CodeEnforcement/DepartmentofBuilding/LERTA/tabid/285/Default.aspx. It was a drain on tax revenues, true, but it was still viewed as a fairly successful program and is still in effect, I believe.

I'm not anxious to see our parks renamed for corporate sponsors, but I could accept discreet and/or creative advertising. I'm not sure people would object to Barnes and Noble sponsoring Storyland Park, for example, as long as it was done tastefully. It would probably serve to encourage reading, too. There are creative solutions out there to difficult problems.

Downtown Susie said...

Duke may speak the truth, but I must add that the factory on Church St. was home to a group of illegal alien squatters before it was torn down. Resulting in fires.

Anonymous said...

People squatted in that building for years and nothing was done for one reason and one reason only. Norman and Mark Corren were not able to line their pockets. They let that property sit as an eyesore for over fifteen years. Then the man who got the building torn down (Stewart Brown) got kicked to the curb for his NON CME $$$$ involved efforts. That is how Norman rewards a good manager.