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It All Comes Out

Maybe the most important post in the history of Common Sense.


My notes from the workshop of last night’s meeting.  Every sentence here could have been a headline for a Common Sense for Belmar post.


Bond attorney: $27 million on the BAN credit card, way too much for a town with a $15 million budget. Only minimum payments were ever made.  Payments now will have to be made beyond the useful life of the projects the bonds funded.  Credit rating at risk.

Engineer: Will take 10 years to bring Belmar’s 20 miles of roads up to par.  $300,000 DOT grant for 12th Ave improvements not yet secured from the state.  RT 35 flooding needs to be addressed.  PSE&G working to raise power lines on Main St to clear incorrectly installed light poles.  Belmar will have to pay the $150,000 cost.  Sewer system problems causing 30 million gallons of clean water to infiltrate sanitary sewer in 2018 at a cost of $30,000. 10th Ave pavilion still not completely functional. Code violations and leaks need to be repaired and retrofitted before summer season.  Lake Como outflow pipe still not fully completed.  There were change orders that were never authorized by the state and we have to present them to them now.  Borough also in violation of storm water reporting requirements to DEP.  Will try to avoid fines.  Cost to fix these problems around $1 million.  State grant to fix Railroad Ave at risk because no plans can be found to put out to bid.

Borough attorney:  Several shared services agreements about to expire and need to be reevaluated going forward.  Many redevelopment agreements negotiated but unsigned.  Developers want them signed and complain nobody answers the phone at Borough Hall.  Borough needs to pay Pringle the $135,000 it owes him.  Insurance won’t cover.  Harmon defense cost at $475/hr is 3X the hourly rate that our insurance will cover.  Bill so far is $400,000.  Never kept insurance company informed about status of case and never asked them for at least the 1/3 that they should pay.  Attorney’s firm is taking over the Harmon defense.

Insurance agent: Last three years payments to JIF had to be at the maximum rate because loss ratio was 121%. Rates have to go up by up to $72,000 to make up for past losses.  Poor training due to being in distant Middlesex County. Will try to get safety training from Monmouth JIF. Many claims pending.  Failed to carry out required safety practices checklist.  Can penalize the amount we get for claims.  Pavilions have no flood insurance.  Can’t switch from Middlesex JIF to Monmouth JIF because of three year contract and also because we owe back $328,000 in additional premiums.  Municipal liability claims (from the lawsuits) have been 156% of the premiums paid.

Auditor: Budget increased 12% and insurance cost up 29% since 2012 but no increase in taxes to cover cost.  Debt service up 42% since 2012.  Reserves depleted and surpluses used to balance previous budgets.  Further reduction in surplus would harm our bond rating.  Any and all reserve funds left were used up to balance 2018 budget.  Structural imbalance in budgeting is half million dollars.  Debt service will have to double.  $1 million needs to be added to debt for repairs to roads, pavilion etc. Using BANs extends the payments past the useful life of the project.  Info based on 2017 numbers.  2018 audit to be released soon. Tax increase of maybe $500,000 necessary.

Ken Pringle: Borough actually owes him more than $250,000, maybe over $300,000.  FEMA money coming in mostly belongs to the beach utility and can’t be used towards municipal debt.  Cost of Harmon defense is $450/hr even for younger attorneys so they could hide the cost of work that would have been charged at up to $800/hr.  Implies that the administration didn’t turn over the case to JIF to defend because they might have settled, which would have implied wrongdoing by defendants.  Asks about absence of change order resolutions for pavilions and Doherty’s conflict of interest with Epic Construction.  Requests audit of pavilion finance and construction history.  Wants to know how much construction cost is hidden because Borough workers did it instead of Epic.  Walsifer: Couple more years of this would have resulted in state takeover.

Auditor in response to question: Total Belmar debt approx $36 million.

Belmar Council Meeting Of January 15, 2019



As of this posting I have only watched about a third of this.  I’m watching it as you are and I am taking some notes which I will publish later this morning.

Homeless By Summer?

New development in Doherty’s “Home by Summer” fiasco



Flashback: Got rich quick!


I Want To Make Sure Everybody Sees This

So I lifted from the comments section.

Important message from Councilwoman Pat Wann:


This Tuesday’s Council meeting is very important. During the workshop part of the meeting, we will present experts who helped us during the transition. They will reveal all the past administration left us. I think you will find the auditor interesting. You will see what 8 years “without a tax raise “ did. You’ll be able to ask questions so you don’t have to assume what they left us. This meeting is a must attend. I’m urging all residents to come out tomorrow, hear what the professionals have to say and have the opportunity to ask them questions. Mayor Walisfer and the Council are being transparent about what was found and we will share it with you. See you tomorrow night.

No Tax Increase In 8 Years!

Here’s a big reason why:



All those millions are long spent but we haven’t even started paying off the principal.  You can read a pretty good explanation of how Bond Anticipation Notes work here.

Click on the image to read Belmar’s bond offering.

Question of the day:

Last Week

Tuesday’s Agenda

Tourism Commission expanded to include a Council member and administration representative.

(Schneck would have preferred the Commission be officially de-commissioned.)


Resolutions here.

Ordinance 2019-01 here.

I do expect going forward that the Commission will be fully compliant with all provisions of ordinance 3-6, Tourist Development Commission.

Beer Crisis Reaches Hampton


Use Of Force Reports For 2018 Season

I noticed on the Borough’s OPRA requests page that last week some organization had OPRAed these.


They also requested the ones for 2017.  You can see them here.

Check Who’s 174th