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Acropolis Cuts His Salary to $1; Council Members Trade Barbs Over Pay

Tense moments after mayor calls on council to cut salaries

Brick Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis will voluntarily cut his salary to $1 per year for the remainder of his term, he announced at the end of Tuesday night's township council meeting.

Acropolis currently earns $52,000 in his post as the full-time mayor of Brick, but has for also maintaining another full-time job as Toms River MUA commissioner from which he earns $92,000.

"The people have spoken loud and clear," Acropolis said, referencing the recent township council election, where incumbent Republicans were by Democratic newcomers."If we as elected officials don't heed what the people say, then shame on us."

Democrats, during the campaign, had threatened to to $15,000 per year if he did not give up his Toms River job.

"I am going to lead by example and give the taxpayers the best bang for their buck," Acropolis said, before urging council members to cut their salaries in half from $8,000 to $4,000.

Acropolis said he initially proposed cutting his own salary as well as council salaries at a meeting of the council's Business and Finance Committee in May, but the committee never brought it to the full council for a vote.

Acropolis' call for council members to reduce their salaries led Councilman Michael Thulen – who lost a re-election bid and will leave the council Jan. 1, 2012 – to propose an ordinance be passed before the new year that would make the reduction. Thulen's call was met with disagreement and some outright hostility by some of the remaining council members.

"We don't need anyone telling us what to do, especially people going out the door," said Councilman Joseph Sangiovanni, who will remain on the council next year.

"I don't think it's the right thing to do, to start changing things right now before this new council gets seated," Sangiovanni said.

"I heard what the voters said. I heard it loud and clear," said Councilman Domenick Brando, who will also remain on the governing body next year, directing his comments at Thulen. "You've worked at the MUA, I believe you've also had family members working in town. It's nice that on the way out you're proposing this. I know what the taxpayers said, and I'm going to do the best that I can to fix it."

Councilman Dan Toth, the third Republican who will remain on the governing body in 2012, did not address the issue directly.

But Council President Brian DeLuca got in a final jab before the meeting ended.

"It's a shame that some people come to some type of an epiphany after an election, when it's clear in your face all year long," said DeLuca, hinting that he supported reducing council salaries in the past year but did not push the issue because he is a "team player."

DeLuca, who earned a $9,000 total stipend for serving as council president, gave up his salary after at the Lakewood motor vehicle office earlier this year.

But regardless of whether the remaining Republicans and incoming Democrats take Acropolis' suggestion and lower their salaries, the mayor had a message for his fellow GOP officials: get back to the basics.

"Our government needs to get smaller, and we have to get back to our Republican principles, principles which may have gotten lost this past year," he said.

Lori Morrison November 28, 2011 at 03:15 PM
Thank you.
Lori Morrison November 28, 2011 at 03:25 PM
I am not sure who proposed the demolition of the the Food Town building, just happy it was done. Squatters and kids were spending a lot of time in there, and after a fire call, it was determined that not only was the building a fire hazard, it was a death trap for emergency services.
Lori Morrison November 28, 2011 at 03:28 PM
The revaluation of taxes that took affect a few years ago is the main reason that so many of us had a huge tax increase.
Denny D November 28, 2011 at 05:13 PM
I was addressing Mr. Pezzaras.
knarfie November 28, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Don't forget the "austerity" program Don't replace retiring people,but replace them with volunteers to save the town money while Mayor and gang were getting fat with raises and jobs created for them. This crew was the biggest fraud ever in the history of the town.
Concerned Independant November 28, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Even if it is a re-election ploy, he's not alone, Democrats are known for that also. It's called politics. I don't like it but we have to understand that's what they do. For whatever reason or motive the Mayor is making these changes, they are good changes for now. We will see as time goes by what else he may do to help our town.
Concerned Independant November 28, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Democrats deceive and lie also. It's not just one party, and you cannot convince me both parties have not been guilty of that in the not too distant past and will continue to be guilty of that. It's how they get their perks and way as elected officials. The newly appointed democrats will be no different. So save your breath trashing just the Republicans, at least include the Dems and Independants with it.
Denny D November 28, 2011 at 08:48 PM
I guess you have had a busy day Mr. Pezarras. I'll wait for your response to some rather simple questions. Whose idea and proposal were the solar panels? What company was paid to remove all the trees? Who wrote out the check? Who was t5he check made out to? While you're at it, who demolished the Food Town building and who received payment for that? Whose name was on the bottom of the check?
L November 29, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Well hit did put the ball in the dems court. Let's se if they want to reduce "spending" in Brick? How funny :)
Scott Pezarras November 29, 2011 at 04:00 AM
Denny Solar panels were the Twp's energy consultant's idea and it was embraced by the Administration, Council, and EPA as well. The landfill capping contractor is Carson and Roberts, they removed the trees in accordance with EPA's required capping plan that was approved. The check is eletronically produced through the accounting software, it is signed by the appropriate signatory in finance. The check would be made out to the contractor Carson Roberts. The Foodtown was demolished the redeveloper M&M Construction, no one was paid as the redeveloper has his own people to do this type of work. No check was written from the Twp. for the demolition of Foodtown.
Scott Pezarras November 29, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Denny The Mayor proposed that idea as a site to incorporate a Twp Community Center as well as other recreational opportunities to be done in phases. This occurred after prior administrations were unsuccessful in erecting a center due to the market effects caused by 9/11. I answered the Foodtown question in my response below. The Traders Cove idea of a park and working marina was intially proposed by the Scarpelli administration. The redeveloper proposed the trailer at the Foodtown site. This was first proposed by the redeveloper around 11 months ago during a redeveloper ad hoc committee meeting. Cutting of Councils salaries was first brought up at a committee mtg by the Mayor in May, I believe (not sure of the month). The shared service idea with Point was brought to us by Sue Rodgers when she was exploring shared services as a cost savings measure. The idea languished and was resurrected by Mayor Schroeder when he asked us to update numbers to pick up solid waste and recyclables for Point.
Scott Pezarras November 29, 2011 at 04:29 AM
CBC These businesses were not given any "deals" abatements or otherwise because they do not meet the criteria. They come to Brick on their own accord. The tax revenue generated from these businesses is not enough to negate tax rate increases because they account for a small portion of the ratable base. They are however known as what we call "clean" ratables meaning they pay school taxes and put no kids in the school and pay for services they do not use in their overall tax bills such as garbage, recreation facilities, etc. that is why "clean" ratables are welcome in business zones. If you look at the block and lot for these sites and see their total taxes paid then multiply that by roughly 30% that is the amount the municipality receives in taxes. Take this number and divide it by the total ratable base, that figure is the tax you save respective to the tax rate.
Scott Pezarras November 29, 2011 at 04:33 AM
The appointing authority of the Twp approves personnel moves. Mr. Bellu was appointed to run the dept of land use and the dept of engineering.
morrissey November 29, 2011 at 02:38 PM
So the shared services idea languished while garbage pickup was being threathened to be made private and then just happened to be resurrected after you scared the sheep into passing the referendum......isnt funny how that all just seem to time itself so perfect and the public WHO YOU WORK FOR, was not informed of any of this !!!!!!!
knarfie November 29, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Scott Pezarras Would you please clarify for the readers who the "appointing authority" of the town is? Most of us know, but please make it clear to those who do not>
Denny D November 29, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Well Scott, some of your answers explain things and some are simply too vague. WHO in the Energy Consultant? You are also saying that M&M demolished a property that they do not own? WHO are the members of the Appointing Authority? Are they the same people who transferred township workers before the layoff? What about the OIP? Who proposed that deal? If you do not answer these easy questions you may be determining your own fate. It is time for the highest paid member of Brick Township government to answer precise questions with precise answers. Thank-you
Hot dog Johnnie November 29, 2011 at 04:16 PM
Denny - To amplify on the "appointing authority" issue: The Town Ordinance established the Department of Community Development & Land Use. This is headed by a Director, Mr Bellu. The qualifications of this position are to simply have any 4 yr degree OR "appropriate" employment experience. No advice and consent of this position is required by the Township Council, the position is appointed by the administration (ie Mayor or BA). There is also the position of "Deputy Municipal Department Head (Community Development & Land Use)". This position has the same qualifications but interestingly enough, this subordinate position requires advice and consent of the Council of the Mayor's appointment to this position. Within the Department is the Division of Land Use & Planning, which has its own division head. The qualifications of this position require a State license in Professional Planning. Interestingly in this whole setup is the fact that a licensed professional in Land Use & Planning is supervised by someone who is not required to have any experience or license in this field. This ordinance is unlike any other "Faulkner" Mayor/Council form of government with respect to the aforementioned irregularities. This is why the appointment of Mr Bellu in his current twp position (for which his only qualification is friendship with the Mayor) is a defensless, obscene & shameless case of abuse of power multiplied by 150000 taxpayer $.
Concerned Brick Citizen November 29, 2011 at 04:45 PM
Scott P., thanks for your response. I do understand what you’re are saying about the tax benefit as well as these businesses being less taxing on our services, but there is a tradeoff. These businesses depend heavily on our local police especially this time of year. I remember years ago Brick residents were told that the addition of business coming into Brick would help stabilize our taxes. In the past few years we have seen a huge growth in businesses as well as a huge growth in taxes. It seems at this time adding more large businesses in Brick will not have any positive benefit on our taxes as well as community. I think Brick has over built and hit the point of diminishing returns. Those new businesses along 70 and in other locations have only increase traffic, cleared our local forests and destroyed the natural buffering between residences and business. I would rather look at trees versus a large man made wall/sound barrier. Trees help you to keep cool in the summer as well as allow some movement of air versus a wall. Over development becomes a quality of life issue for many in Brick and could decrease the values of their properties as well have a negative impact on the growth of our community. A drive through Brick is not a pretty thing. There are no longer the beautiful “shore” community aesthetics. Only open waterfront owners benifit.
Denny D November 29, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Does anyone know what happened to the "Ethics Committee"? Who is/was that comprised of?
Concerned Brick Citizen November 29, 2011 at 05:32 PM
After doing some research I now I really see a problem... It pays to be a large business in Brick. Check out the Tax history on PC Richard and Sons. 550 Route 70, Brick, NJ property. They are paying less in taxes versus the former owner. The Mega Corporate businesses on average don’t appear to have been subject to the same increases as the average homeowner or pay their fair amount in taxes. I think Brick township is giving away the store at the expense of the local citizens to bring in large retail chains. What have they really done to boost our local economy? I’ve yet to see any benefit. Sure there are low wage jobs to be had, but nothing sustainable. These mega corporations should be paying twice in taxes what they are at this time. How are these businesses truely benifiting Brick?
morrissey November 29, 2011 at 05:42 PM
no the businesses are paying ENOUGH in taxes.......the homeowners need to be paying 50% less in property taxes.......and thats done by cutting public employees and services and a total revamp of how schools are funded
KC November 29, 2011 at 07:20 PM
I agree w/ Concerned Citizen. Did we really need another liquor warehouse? And what about that monstrosity that is going up (is it a gas station?) in Brick Plaza! That huge ugly box is an eyesore and totally detracts from the esthetics of the plaza. As I sit here my area is up to its eyeballs in bags - ugly, wet, nasty bags and bags of leaves because this town can't even get together a leaf pickup schedule that doesn't continually favor the same areas and leave others til Christmastime with three months of leaves. I have grown to dislike this town's leadership and only wish we could clean house further and sooner.
knarfie November 29, 2011 at 08:06 PM
You can't use the word "ethics" in the same sentence when referring to this administration in town hall.
knarfie November 29, 2011 at 08:37 PM
I read the article in the Brick Times regarding the mayors giving a tour to the council people elect. He said something about living up to campaign promises or they will be one term servers. Imagine taking advice from someone who was basically the cause of his people losing and does not have speck of a chance to be re-elected if he has the nerve to run, or if his party will even back him. Still in denial, blaming the cap for the results, as if he was an innocent bystander. Face it. You are through.
Scott Pezarras November 30, 2011 at 01:10 PM
Denny If you contact me at my office I would be happy to discuss your concerns with you. My number is 732-262-1050. Scott
Sam Foster December 01, 2011 at 06:27 AM
Denny D: Since I filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Acropolis a few years ago when Virginia Lampman was township clerk, and considered filing an ethics complaint against Mayor Acropolis for harassment a few weeks ago, I can tell you that the ethics committee does still exist. In the past the township clerk was in charge of the ethics committee, with the actual committee selected from township council members. To me it is worthless: good luck complaining about a politician in town. I base this on my experiences with it. I had the same problem when I tried to file a criminal complaint against Mayor Acropolis for harassment. I received a big run around from Lt. Ling in the Brick Police Department, so I am now going to complain to the Ocean County Prosecutors Office and the F.B.I.
Concerned Brick Citizen December 01, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Denny D. filing an ethics complaint is a waste of your time. Even going to town hall meetings is a waste. I may never attend one again. The township personnel and all people who are working for or associated with the township are immune to mistakes due to “tort” laws. I’ve learned this first hand, when one “Township” employee told me that even if I’m wrong, I’m right. Justice was done when this arrogant employee lost his job. I’ve even received a letter from the township lawyer stating that township employees are protected when they make mistakes. It must be nice to screw up on your job and not get blamed or be financially responsible. I’ve been called a liar by the township engineering firm even though I had proof via bills when the work was completed, inspected, signed off along with dated photos that proved clearly it was an engineering code enforcement mistake. – Birdsall (sp) needs to go! The former plumbing sub code official told me I removed a required valve, because it was there when he inspected the property. He proceeded to tell me that I removed it to save money. .-- $5 valves! Get real! He also failed to find and recognize an open sewer vent I’ve learned that the buzz phrase town employees use to protect their A**s is that “You altered it. It was there when I inspected it.” It was Newman Jr. who told me photos mean nothing and prove nothing. And some people wonder why I’m so upset or negative.
lvdherelong December 06, 2011 at 05:30 PM
I cannot believe a few things in these comments....all 225 of them. I can't believe that Art has now turned his guns onto Dan Toth, and then as a follow up, that next to no one understands why he obtains, AND that there is no mention of other council persons obtaining all the time over the years. I can't believe that anyone who isn't certified by the state to do what Scott Pezarras is going to continually bash him on here, AND that he would waste his time even entering into a debate with anyone on here. I also can't believe that anyone reading this thinks that there could be an election that could involve independents, truly unbiased and unsupported candidate. I think Ed (God rest his soul) may have been the only and the last unsupported candidate to run. Brick's budget is too large for a party not to be backing it. It will always be a D or an R, and there will always be attacks of ones person and or family when they attempt to step up and do WHAT'S RIGHT FOR BRICK, regardless of party affiliation. And furthermore, I can't believe that The Patch allows half of this stuff to remain on their site, cause 90% of the stuff posted here is just hogwash posted by political cronies who don't really have a clue as to what they are talking about. Lastly, it's a shame no one, well close to no one, on here ever thinks of what's right for Brick....only what's right for themselves and or their political party.
Mark Story Jenks December 06, 2011 at 05:47 PM
The second and third sentences of your comment seem a bit cryptic. But the rest of it makes sense.
Jay Santos December 23, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Ya know Art, Dan was the only member of the Council who had the courage to tell the Mayor it was one job or the other. The other's to my diappointment just went along.

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