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Political Opponents Trade Barbs at Brick Budget Hearing

Spending plan passes 6-1, however

About two hours of political back-and-forth conversations culminated in the final passing of Brick's 2012 municipal budget in a 6-1 vote Tuesday night.

Before the $86,818,351 operating budget could be finalized, a state-mandated public hearing was held at the township council's caucus meeting. Members of the public – several aligned with the township Republican organization – criticized the majority Democrats on the council for not cutting taxes more than the approximately $176,000 cut from the tax levy this year.

The Democratic council members said they were proud of the 2012 municipal budget and were getting the town back on track after several years of mismanagement under an all-Republican council and administration.

"A hundred-thousand-dollar cut on an $86 million budget," said former Councilman Michael Thulen. "Honestly, I don't think you did the job that you said you were going to do."

"It's still better than what prior councils have been able to do," countered township resident Sam Foster, the next person to speak. "A cut is still a cut, and most importantly, it's a balanced budget with no tax increase."

Members of the public, council members and Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis all put in their two cents during the hearing, which eventually turned into an all-out debate on the April 2011 referendum that raised more than $8 million in taxes and allowed the township to exceed a state-mandated 2 percent tax levy cap.

"If we didn't do something as drastic as that referendum, we wouldn't be sitting up here today high-fiving each other about what a great job we did," said Councilman Joseph Sangiovanni.

Sangiovanni laid blame for the referendum and its resulting tax increase on several years of flat tax rates under the administration of former Democratic Mayor Joseph Scarpelli, accusing the former mayor of using "one shot" budget influxes to avoid increasing taxes as the township's financial picture worsened.

Council President John Ducey shot back that when former Democratic Mayor Daniel Kelly favored increasing taxes to put the township on a better financial footing, Republicans blasted the idea.

"It was a cumulative effect that caused the 24 percent increase," in taxes in 2011, Ducey said, blaming Republicans for mismanaging the township when they held the majority of seats on the governing body.

Township resident Skott Burkland, a member of the planning board, accused Democrats of re-funding the township's public works department because the Transport Workers Union endorsed the Democratic council members when they ran for election in November 2011.

Acropolis had proposed cutting the 2012 budget by more than $8 million and privatizing public works services, such as trash and recycling collection.

Brick TWU Shop Steward John Menshon, however, said the county Central Labor Council – not the local shop – made the endorsement.

"I would have voted the same way whether they voted for us or not," said Councilwoman Susan Lydecker, referencing the 2012 budget.

Lydecker later said she voted in favor of last year's referendum before having been elected to council.

"Without that referendum, we would have had cuts," said Acropolis, telling council members that his proposal to cut the amount raised by last year's referendum from this year's budget was meant to prove the need for the referendum.

Ducey accused Acropolis of "playing with a lot of people's livelihoods" in sending out layoff notices to public works employees to prove a point to Democratic council members. "And that's just wrong," he said .

Acropolis accused the Democratic council members of running against the referendum process, which Ducey said was incorrect.

The Democratic party neither endorsed nor opposed last year's referendum, though Democratic candidates criticized the tax hikes that resulted from it during campaign season.

"I would have much rather had a tax cut budget, but this council decided not to have a tax cut budget," said Acropolis.

Municipal taxes will remain flat in Brick this year. Homeowners will pay 63.6 cents per $100 of assessed real property valuation, the same rate as 2011.

That led Sangiovanni to cast the lone vote against the budget, saying he would have rather seen taxes cut.

The remaining six council members – four Democrats and two Republicans – voted in favor of the spending plan.

"I think it's a good budget," said Lydecker. "I think it's responsible, and I'm going to stand by it."

"I believe the residents of Brick deserve a break" from tax hikes, Ducey said, explaining his support for the budget.

Daniel Nee (Editor) May 17, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Brick can't go under the state's plan. The current collective bargaining agreements in place provide for health coverage more generous than what the state plan would provide, therefore the town would be in breach of its contracts with the unions if they went to the state plan.
Daniel Nee (Editor) May 17, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Tired of BS -- It has nothing to do with the new council. See above post. We've done a couple stories on it, as well. The current union contracts provide for benefits packages more generous than what the state plan provides.
George May 17, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Dan I agree with you I can't stand all the politics it means nothing to most of us and wastes alot of time.
Tired of the BS May 17, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Dan, I understand that. However, contracts can be negotiated. Is it true that DPW still does not have a contract? I understand that their contract expired on 12/31/11.
Daniel Nee (Editor) May 17, 2012 at 08:04 PM
The TWU (which represents the vast majority of DPW employees) does not have a contract, that is correct.
Upset Union Member May 17, 2012 at 09:42 PM
@Mrgrumpass: I was at work; So i cant blog like the idiots at townhall?
Mrgrumpass May 17, 2012 at 10:25 PM
If you are at work and you have time to blog than maybe you position need to be eliminated, I think the council president needs to find out who you are and see why you have this much time! I’m a taxpayer you work for me, I am not happy with slackers working for me!
BW May 17, 2012 at 11:00 PM
" I am not happy with slackers working for me!" OMG LMAOOOOOOOOO thank you grumpy! I sooooooooooo needed a good laugh! So in other words everyone who works for the town should be fired? I TOTALLY AGREE AND LETS START AT THE TOP!
J.JONES May 18, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Yea thats the answer..more people running our town with no experience ..you can how its working since jan...???
Ryan Meyers May 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Br82 How do you explain two of the senior council members voted with the four new council members ? I agree, they are disappointing to this point and we had expected much more dramatic change and transparency. Yet don't forget, the change we've hoped they'd have made by now, was all created by those "experienced" town leaders. If they truly are listening to the taxpayers, they'll take heed and do what they promised.
Upset Union Member May 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM
@Mrgrumpass: too bad I don't work at townhall, so waste your time having ducey try n finding out who I am.. Your an old geezer who lives in greenbriar or lions head that has nothing else better to do.. :)
Ryan Meyers May 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Upset Union Member, why hasn't anyone brought up the scandal about going away from the Dodge Charger & back to Weisleder to purchase Fords ? Everyone at DPW seems to be talking about it.
Upset Union Member May 18, 2012 at 01:05 PM
@Ryan Meyers: since Dan isn't reporting it, explain.. Dan your slacking and not keeping the tax payers in the loop.
Art Sholty May 18, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Hey Wahoo I just posted a new blog. Please read it and I too agree with you only keep it truthfull
Art Sholty May 18, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I hope that now all who thought I was not telling the truth will think better because my predictions have all come true even the one that Bullet Dan Toth would turn coat and make his bed with the new Democratic Council. He's on the NJ State Legislature now. How do I know? He has a special license plate marked with a coat of arms that only a State Legislature can have (1- FDT) ???????? I expect this will be killed as inappropriate by the Bullett himself.
Mickey May 18, 2012 at 06:00 PM
why couldn't he agree with them, if he felt that way also. you want R's to vote as a block, regardless if that's the correct vote...or not. that's the formula that got us in this mess to begin with. I guess you feel the same way about Brando then ?
George May 18, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Art wake up the budget was adopted forget the politics nobody cares.
Mrgrumpass May 19, 2012 at 12:53 PM
Your the only slacker here!
Mrgrumpass May 19, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Oh by the way I am self-employed and I will be on you like white on rice, you are on my payroll! The IT people in townhall can zero in on your computer BOZO!
Joseph Woolston Brick May 20, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Not only are the people of Brick getting tired of the Democrat/Republican football game, so is the rest of the country. It's time to vote in people that deserve the job or can handle it, this crap of voting all Rep or Dem because your grandfather was one or the other and it's a family tradition is ridiculous. It's time to get the right people in, split the ticket in the voting booth and then tell them they better work together for the people of Brick or face being fired just like any employee would be for bad performance. I really hope that the people that won the election last November realize that they won, not because they were democrat or their agenda, but because the people of Brick were tired of the shenanigans of the current "employees" and what other choice did we have? So right now, those that won better realize they are on probation just like they would be at any job, those who's job performance shines, will be kept, those that don't consider yourselves seat holders until the next election. Brick has to go back to the non-partisan form of government we used to have. Meanwhile, to the employees we hired last November, we are watching you, grading you and reviewing your performance, you will find out how your doing next election day, if not before!
Joseph Woolston Brick May 20, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Mrgrumpass, Oh you hit the nail on the head! I can see the replies now, two old farts complaining about cycles BUT I live on a road that is constantly used by motorcycles, I swear to God I've actually seen the window panes shake as some of them roar by. We have one lovely neighbor who comes home at two in the morning and shakes the whole house. I've asked bike owners how they are allowed to have such loud bikes, each one told me it was a "safety" issue and makes the bikes more visible to people. That's why the cops sort of turn a blind eye towards the practice. Well hell, that would make my car safer too! The next time I jog by Mr. Loud Ass's house at 4am. I think I will take my bagpipes and play them as I very slowly jog past his domain, hell it's for my safety makes me more visible too.
Joseph Woolston Brick May 20, 2012 at 06:07 PM
First, these politicians from the President on down, will promise anything and everything to get elected. What I would love is someone that has the money and balls, to take a politician to court over the promises made by the politician during their campaigns, Suing that said promises are verbal contracts. Then I would love to have a judge and a jury with even bigger balls to agree and figure out a HUGE settlement that would be spread out and paid to charities all across the nation. What a class action suit that would be! All the promises that I have heard politicians make over my lifetime and break, the monies generated would have found the cure for cancer, diabetes and stupidity by politicians. (well maybe just cancer and diabetes).
Joseph Woolston Brick May 20, 2012 at 06:29 PM
The rest of the Acropolis team will be fired this November. Don't need a crystal ball for that. I voted for each and every one of them, what a mistake that was! I was thinking about keeping one of them but changed my mind. The idea behind having a Mayor and a Town Council is a check and balance system. Say a mayor comes up with a stupid idea (Ice Palace). The people on the Town Council should be feeling the pulse of the town they represent, if they get the feeling the majority of the town doesn't want to go along with the stupid idea, then they should have gone to the mayor and said this is a bad idea, instead they stood shoulder to shoulder to buy a falling down refrigerator. So then the town had to take on job of what the Town Council should have been doing, got together and told said mayor, NO! Then the mayor blames all the Democrats in town for the blockage of the sale, when the reality was, NOBODY in town wanted the thing except for a few hockey connected people. So we as a people had to do the job of the town council, the very thing they were hired to do and didn't , why should we keep employees that didn't do their job and are being paid anyway? So this go around, hopefully we will get better employees and hopefully they will learn from their predecessors what NOT to do or suffer the same fate down the road. To those on the Acropolis team getting ready to go into campaign mode, why bother! Too little to late and a waste of money and time!
Joseph Woolston Brick May 20, 2012 at 06:43 PM
MrGrumpass, are you saying the the Ocean County Sheriffs Department should take over Brick? Do you have any idea what's going on with them? Do you want a 90 year old with suspected dementia running our township police system? Google it or search Patch for the story. It's unbelievable! I like our police department just the way it is, they do a great job and the officers on it are our friends and neighbors. I can't believe people bitch about their pay, would you face being killed everyday and leaving your wife a widow for the salary of a manager of Walmart ? If you do, please enter the academy, your hired!
J.JONES May 20, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Joe woolston..I agreed that the rest of the republican members are gone Toth don't know who's side he's on..trying to play both sides for hope of Mayor shot..Brando Just afraid to take a stand ..Sangiovanni..just gone ..But don't be surprised if you don't see past republican councils running with a better approach to issues..Will be interesting to say the least ..More trash talk will follow I'M SURE ..
Can't handle the truth May 22, 2012 at 02:10 PM
the people always get screwed. they all need to be thrown out. their all liars. Democrat's with their money Laundering with the unions. and the Republicans are no good when they act like Democrat's. remember the Democrat's have the Tax and spend sickness. that will never change .
Can't handle the truth May 22, 2012 at 02:14 PM
These people that run this local Government don't give a dam about the people. only when there is a pay off or a vote for the next election. their all NO Good.
Can't handle the truth May 28, 2012 at 01:09 AM
So if they cut one dollar.... its a cut their keeping their promise. right. bullshit as usual. Democrat's do not understand the words cut taxes. dont U people understand that yet??? as as far as the republicans go , there no true Republicans in this state. they act like Democrat's. there has to be a difference in Governing other wise they are all alike. and they are. wheres the money coming from next year. cant wait to see.
Can't handle the truth May 28, 2012 at 01:15 AM
If we don't address the N J E A, we will never see our taxes go down. but no one wants to talk about that. We need a Governor Walker in this town. Reform the entire system. Education takes the highest percentage of our property taxes. that's whats killing us. they indoctrinate our kids we pay them highly for it. when you think about it Government running Education is Socialism.
darrell August 11, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I think your reference regarding the people in town hall is uncalled for. How do you know who does and who doesn't? Why does everybody have to call people names? Is there anyone that can have a normal conversation?

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