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Guest Fact Checker

Submitted by former Councilman Jim Bean.  Good stuff!

First, he has some excerpts from Judge Milberg’s decision in the 1989 Slocum v. Belmar case brought by Alfred A. Slocum, Public Advocate of the state of New Jersey:

It is this court’s obligation to determine what constitutes reasonable expenditures in light of N.J.S.A. 40:61-22.20 for the benefit of both the beachgoer and the Belmar community.

Michelle Bowman, an expert in the field of accounting, with a special emphasis on trust accounting, financial reporting and cost allocation, testified on behalf of the Public Advocate. This witness, who supported her testimony with a written report, examined 30 separate items of expenditure relating to beachfront activities and recommended how each of these items should be allocated to the operation of Belmar’s beachfront facility. In support of Belmar’s position, Robert Hulsart, a certified public accountant, registered municipal accountant, and expert auditor in municipal finance, testified that the allocations of beach related expenses devised by the Borough Clerk, Charles Ormsbee, were reasonable under N.J.S.A. 40:61-22.20. This court finds Bowman’s allocations to be more credible and reasonable than Belmar’s, and accordingly adopts a majority of the Bowman findings relating to legitimate beachfront expenditures. *193 Additionally, this court finds that Belmar’s allocations are mere speculations, unsupported by any explanation or records. Belmar’s allocations are arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory against the beach badge purchaser; the revenues derived are more than are needed to defray the operational costs permitted under the statute…………….


…………..1. Police Salaries and Wages.
Belmar included 90% of the total salary and wage costs of all special police regardless of what they did and when they did it. Special police, used all year to fill in for regular officers who were out sick, were also included by Belmar, as well as those officers called for the Halloween Parade and on St. Patrick’s Day.
Bowman included only the identifiable costs for special beach police that patrol the beach, as well as other specials and costs associated with the beachfront as identified by Police Chief Daniel Moynihan. These costs included one roving car post, six special officers directing traffic from 10:00-6:00 p.m., two scooter posts and special assignments posts related to the beachfront.
Belmar allocated the full salary costs for five regular police officers for the entire year, while Bowman included the average salary of two officers on the day-time shift each day for the full summer season. According to Chief Moynihan, there was an average of three officers on duty during the day for three years. The police shift schedule indicates that there are two patrol officers and one supervisory officer on duty at any one time, together with a civilian dispatcher. Bowman allocated two-thirds of the total number of officers working during this period. Additionally, Bowman noted that only 4% or less of the *197 calls for service for the year occurred at or near the beachfront during the time when badges were required.
Belmar allocated 50% of the salary for both civilian police dispatchers and clerical workers while Bowman allocated nothing for this category.
Belmar allocated 75% of the police department’s gross overtime, while Bowman allocated the full amount of summer overtime to the beach badge purchaser. Belmar allocated “$4,000” in salary expenses for South Belmar dispatching without acknowledging the reimbursement received by Belmar. At trial, Ormsbee conceded that this was improper. Bowman did not allocate anything to the South Belmar dispatching.
The court rejects Belmar’s allocations for this category as overbroad, speculative, and unsupported by any records; Belmar included non-beach related events such as the Halloween and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in its calculations. The court accepts Bowman’s allocations for this category as being credible and reliable. However, the number of car posts, number of special officers and assignments related to the beach are subject to change from time to time depending upon need.

Then he fact checks yesterday’s Coast Star article about the threat of another beach utility lawsuit:

BELMAR — Mayor Matt Doherty this week defended the borough’s use of beach utility revenues to defray some costs of police and dispatch services, after a predecessor claimed the practice is “unlawful.”

.Former mayor Ken Pringle made the accusation in a recent letter to borough attorney Bill Northgrave, citing information obtained during the recent Susko v. Belmar lawsuit which successfully challenged the borough’s use of “Buy-a-Board” donations, flood insurance payments and FEMA grants to fund the $4.1-million bond to rebuild the Taylor Pavilion [Fifth Avenue Pavilion]. The court found Doherty wrong on all of the above. Why now does he think his logic is correct on this one? Did he even read the Slocum V. Belmar lawsuit?  

Mr. Pringle, the attorney who represented plaintiffs in the suit, said the borough is in violation of the Public Trust Doctrine and state statues by paying for non-beach related police and dispatching costs with beach utility funds.

.Mayor Doherty responded on Dec. 8, stating that since 2011, the borough has been hiring additional police personnel, between May 15 and Sept. 15, to assist in policing the borough during the busy summer months and the expense is billed to the beach utility fund. Since 2011? Why does Doherty make it sound like hiring “additional police personnel” or Specials during the summer is something that just started happening in 2011?

.“The reason we need additional police is because people come to Belmar in the summer, the reason they come to Belmar is for the beach,” Mayor Doherty said. “Prior to me, the mayor [Mr. Pringle] used to put the expense on the taxpayers.” The huge crowds at D’Jais on Friday and Saturday nights only come for the beach? The mobs going to Bar A for “beat the clock” Tuesday night between 7 & 12 pm is for the beach? Is there a public beach in the bars I am unaware of? Yes, Pringle put the specials expense on the taxpayer, as the court instructed him to do. When did the Slocum lawsuit become ineffective? In 2011, when Doherty was elected and it is because it is more important for him to be awesome then honest.

.Mayor Doherty also said Belmar is not the only borough to pay for additional police in the summer from beach revenues and other shore towns use beach utility monies and beach badge sales to pay for additional police in the summer. Then why are we the only town being sued? Maybe a better question is did the other towns budgets raise at 15% a year with no tax increase? I checked. The answer is no, so my instinct is telling me we are doing something different than they are.

.“We also use [beach utility money] to pay for additional Department of Public Works employees who are raking, cleaning and maintaining the beach,” Mayor Doherty said. “It wouldn’t be fair to have taxpayers pay for that at all.” Knock it off Mayor….you’re not being sued for using beach money to rake and clean the beach. And I don’t think the courts care about what the voters think is “fair”. I believe they base things on the rule of law.

.Mr. Pringle cited current discussions of a proposal for Belmar to provide Lake Como with police services as a cause for concern that the borough may continue what he alleges to be “the mayor and council’s past unlawful budget practices” in order to take on the policing of Lake Como. For the record I voted against all three budgets during my term because I felt they violated lawful (and responsible) budget practices. Of course I didn’t use such eloquent words as Mr. Pringle, but the meaning was the same. Stop looting and start balancing.

.According to his letter to Mr. Northgrave, Mr. Pringle of Pringle Quinn Anzano, said that since the end of 2010, there has been “a dramatic shift in the borough’s police and dispatch-related costs from the current fund, which is financed primarily by taxpayers, to the beach utility fund, which is financed overwhelmingly from beach fees.”

.Mr. Pringle wrote: “The mayor and council will need to take steps in the upcoming budget to reduce the amounts charged to the beach utility fund for police and dispatch services to only those ‘identifiable’ and costs that the borough can document are related to the operation of the beach.” In other words, we have to start obeying the law.

.Mayor Doherty responded by insisting that one of two things would happen if the borough changed its policy to comply with Mr. Pringle’s legal interpretation. There’s nothing to “interpret”. Milberg’s decision is written in plain English.

“The end result… would be either reducing police significantly in the summer, or … an increase in property taxes,” the mayor said. Why, when faced with a budget shortfall, politicians always threaten to cut the police first? Why not cut the palm trees, the $10,000 on beach balls, the pavilions that costs 3 times the going rate, the huge salary increases to the Mayor’s friends? Mayor Matt, why does it have to be a reduction in police or increase in taxes? Why not make responsible decisions and balance the budget by not spending more than you collect in taxes? Anyone can spend like crazy and rob the beach utility to pay for it. It doesn’t take a “financial expert” to do that.

According to Mayor Doherty, taxes increased for 14 consecutive years during Mr. Pringle’s tenure as mayor. True and I’m not happy about it, but at least I wasn’t being lied to. And didn’t you vote yes for every budget as a councilman?

.In his letter, Mr. Pringle cited “evidence [that] has come to light through discovery in Susko v. Belmar establishing that Belmar’s mayor and council have been systematically and unlawfully using beach utility funds since 2011 to avoid increasing Belmar property taxes.” Before voting no on each budget I voiced my complaints about what I believed the Borough was doing illegally with the beach utility. I warned it would catch up with Belmar. Everyone on the council disagreed. I believe it was Council President Magoven who said it would never happen. Well…it happened.

.Mr Pringle wrote that at the time of discovery, “I believed the issue was not a pressing one because the 2015 beach season had already concluded and the borough’s 2016 budget will not be struck for several more months.”

.In late October, Superior Court Katie A. Gumer ruled against the borough and in favor of opponents of the pavilion project, who had claimed that most of the money from three funding sources going into the beach utility fund could not legally be used to offset costs that Belmar taxpayers should bear. Ruled against Belmar. If one council person would have believed in the rule of law and read the Slocum V. Belmar decision, maybe something could have been done before this hole was dug.

.Mayor Doherty has said the borough would appeal the ruling. Say amen Mayor because that is what I say after a prayer. Our town’s financial future is based on the forgiveness of a $4.1 MIL FEMA loan (that is not on our debt statement) and court decisions that have already been adjudicated against us 20 years ago. 


  1. The Truth wrote:

    Wait are saying Matt can read ? Holy cow I had no idea he sure does hide it well. I think this is the year Matt actually wins a law suit , but what do I know I didn’t even know he could read.

    Friday, December 11, 2015 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  2. Just Passing Through wrote:

    I need another aspirin.

    Friday, December 11, 2015 at 2:35 pm | Permalink
  3. belmarguy wrote:

    #2-Your blood must be very thin and clot free with all this aspirin you’ve been taking!

    Friday, December 11, 2015 at 4:36 pm | Permalink
  4. admin wrote:

    He’s killing his stomach.

    Friday, December 11, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Why isn’t the prosecutor or attorney general enforcing the law. Theft is theft. Just look at Habel

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink
  6. Just Passing Through wrote:

    Guys thanks for the concern it was a metaphor. There are I believe 2 bill in the state one is Assembly #2319 pertains to bond issuance in Municipalities and another one I saw and can’t find pertains to tightening ethics of Municipal government. If both pass the nonsense will end.

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    Jim Bean for Council 2016 !

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    Remember A2319, A2319, A2319, A2319, A2319, A2319. A2319, A2319.Assembly Bill.

    EVEN the “KOOLAID” drinkers should contact their legislators. Face it the legions will be lobbying against this bill like crazy. You deserve relief.

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

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