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The Great Gift Card Caper?

I’m sure it’s just some sort of mistake somewhere but it has to be explained.  Bear in mind that this would not have come to light if Jim Bean had not forced the administration to release this information with his OPRA request.

From today’s Coast Star:

Councilman Bean questions where nearly $10,000 in gift cards went

$17,000 sent to Belmar Elementary School, but only $7,950 received

During Tuesday evening’s council meeting, Councilman Jim Bean questioned where nearly $10,000 in ShopRite gift cards earmarked for Belmar Elementary School students ended up.

Soon after Hurricane Sandy hit in October 2012, the Borough of Belmar purchased $20,000 worth of ShopRite gift cards to dole out to residents in need— $17,000 of which was meant for Belmar Elementary School [BES]. The borough was able to purchase the $20,000 worth of gift cards for $18,000, which came out of donations received by the borough post-Sandy.

However, when Councilman Jim Bean filed two Open Public Records Act [OPRA] requests — one with the school and one with the borough — to see how many gift cards were given to BES from the borough, there was a discrepancy in how much the school was given.

According to the OPRA requests, Belmar Elementary School business administrator Loretta Hill said the school received $7,950 in gift cards while Belmar borough clerk April Claudio said they gave the school $17,000 in gift cards — figures Councilman Bean said at the meeting he had both entities double or triple check.

At the meeting, Councilman Bean brought this discrepancy up, questioning Kelly Williams, coordinator of social services in the borough, who was in charge of doling out the gift cards the borough received, and who delivered the gift cards to BES.

Ms. Williams replied that she had “hand delivered” them to the school’s nurse, Mary Pat Wallace, who then distributed them.

Police Chief Tom Palmisano, who Councilman Bean had called on to ask what he thought of the situation, said he would “look into it myself.”…………………………

………………………….Mayor Matt Doherty, who was not at the meeting on Tuesday night, said “Councilman Bean has been opposed to our recovery from Sandy since day one.”……………………….


The town says it gave the school $17,000 in this document.

The school says it received $7900 in this document.




  1. Tom Burke wrote:

    I have to wonder what motive anyone , especially people who live in Belmar, would have or would have had against our recovery. That just makes no sense to me, especially a councilman who I personally saw (and helped) in picking up and removing sections of our boardwalk from our streets early in our recovery efforts. I did not see any hint of being against recovery by anyone on council. Nor have I heard any words spoken that were expressed that were directly contrary to the recovery. Questions do not always indicate apathy.

    Friday, January 31, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  2. Teddy Ehmann wrote:

    Foresseing all this, New Jersey Dept. of Community Affairs via Local Finance Notice 2012-25 dated11/5/2012 ( 17 days priorto gift card action, notified Belmar that ” DCA strongly encourages local governments to instruct persons to make donations directly to appropriate non-profit organizations rather than assuming the responsiblity for re-distributing donations.”
    Should they choose not to follow this advice, the governing body must approve a Dedicated Rider Resolution to be in compliance with NJSA 40A:5-29.
    Apparently this fell on deaf ears in our borough.

    Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  3. ms.perspicacity wrote:

    jeepers, the discrepancy between $17,000 sent and $7950 received HAS to be a math error, e.g., regarding the $7950.00: 7950 divided by 78 (the number of families who received cards) = 101.92. does shoprite have gift cards for 101.92? must be the new math…

    Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  4. Hammer wrote:

    Something fishy is going on.This does not pass the smell test.

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 8:50 am | Permalink

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