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Pringle Questions The New Budget

On Wednesday evening Ken Pringle made his second council meeting appearance since relinquishing his position as Top Dog on January 2.  The first appearance was to give Matt and Co. an assist in suggesting a cleaner way of getting out of the campaign law conflict of interest entanglement that the new administration found itself in.  On that occasion the former mayor’s advice was gratefully followed, resulting in the passing on Wednesday of his suggested changes to Belmar’s campaign finance laws, which were the toughest in the universe but I guess now are only the toughest in the galaxy.

I don’t think the current mayor was as happy to see the former mayor this time.  Pringle was there to question how Doherty could have a $400,000 increase in spending without raising taxes by a similar amount.  Apparently he’s not buying Doherty’s prediction of an increase in revenues large enough to cover the increase in spending.

Specifically he questioned Doherty’s dependence on revenues from the shared services agreements we’ve been signing with nearby towns and on pushing the envelope with regard to what municipal costs can be paid for with the beach utility surplus.  The shared services contracts are only for a period of one year and Pringle is concerned that if they are not renewed we’ll be scrambling to make up the difference.  Ken was the biggest proponent of these sort of agreements, so when he advises caution on Belmar becoming dependent on them we should listen.  I have predicted that that towns will start to squabble over the details of these arraingments once they are implemented so I’m even more skeptical about this predicted revenue stream than he is.  Pringle also reminded Doherty of the problems his predecessor Maria Hernandez caused by using beach money for the town.  We ended up being sued in SLOCUM v. BELMAR and we lost.

Mr. Pringle also questioned predictions of increased revenues from the Marina.  I myself think the Marina is a white elephant and we that should lease it out and not try to run it ourselves.   For the value of that property and the amount of effort we put into it, the returns are pitiful.  And with rising gas prices and a stagnant economy I don’t think business will be booming in the years to come.  If we leased it out to someone already in the business, like the Bogan family, and let them run it and maybe build a condo building or something on it, we would collect more in lease payments and property tax on the improvements than we could get running it ourselves.  (If I owned it I would sell it and buy gold.)

Another complaint Pringle had was about Doherty dipping into the surplus that Pringle had built into his budgets.  Doherty assured him it would be replenished next year but again Pringle was skeptical.  Anyway the budget is out and Pringle got his copy of it yesterday so he’s probably poring over it as I write.  It will be interesting to see what else he finds.  I hope his observations will be made in public.

In other business the council decided exactly what our restaurants’ outdoor table umbrellas must look like and renewed it’s policy of keeping beach-going smokers in cages.

Smokers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


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