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OPINION: Point Pleasant May Be A Sad Case

The communications through the Patch has been very enlightening. Some of the comments were  crude and argumentative, rather than being informative and educated.

As the saying goes...Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But, remember not all opinions are equal.

I was sent one post from a person going by byeseeya. In the post the person said, "Ian, what makes you think you can do any better than the Council with the Borough finances. You can't even balance your own checkbook. Didn't you just have a car repossessed? You build that big house and now you can't pay your taxes?"

I suppose when irrational people have nothing to constructive to say, they just make things up. In my nearly 70 years, I have never had anything repossessed...EVER!

I wonder why someone would write something that is an outright lie? Just because the president lied to the American people about the new healthcare law doesn't make lying OK.

On to different and more important topics.

I am not opposed to reasonable taxes...I just want to know that the taxes I and others pay is reasonably spent and taken care of in a well defined manner.
Has the Point Pleasant Borough Council done a reasonable job in this regard? Well, you be the judge!

Several years ago it was "discovered" by the Council that the Borough's finances were a deplorable mess. Councilman Leitner was given the task of trying to unravel the mess. As he looked into the situation he found that it was true that the Borough financial records were so bad that he needed professional accountant help to try to figure things out.

In essence, he was saying that no one among the Borough staff could figure out the Borough's financial condition, the Council was not practicing rudimentary financial oversight and the Council was spending money not really knowing if there was any money available TO spend.

This also means that highly compensated Borough staff, starting with the chief administrator wasn't aware of the financial problems, the tax collector didn't know about the problem, the auditor didn't know about the problem...apparently nobody knew about the financial problems.

The final resolution of the problems was not reported upon, but Councilman Sobosik told the newspapers that things were resolved, and "weren't that bad after all." Yes, steps were being taken to recover. That is what the public was told. Additionally, a new computer based financial system was being installed and things would soon improve. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT NOT A SINGLE PERSON WAS HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE DEBACLE.

What the public didn't know at the time, and was never told by the Council, is that a special accountant firm was employed to try to unravel the financial mess. They worked on the Borough financial records for over a year and recently requested further compensation for more work, because they still hadn't finished the work they were initially hired to complete.

The public also found out that the accounting work became a "forensic audit", because the firm discovered "grossly inadequate accounting practices", a lack of "any form of accountability" and possible fraud within the Borough.

At about the same time, we learned that there were other problems. A "mistake" in the Water and Sewer finances (Department of Public Works) caused there to be an improper calculation in customer charges. Therefore, to correct the resulting revenue shortfall the Borough residents would have to pay a water and sewer "surcharge" for three years. Again, no one seemed to know about the problem until long after the fact, not the Borough staff or the Council.
I have four questions on which I would appreciate comments.

First, Why do you think the Council was unaware of the Borough's financial irregularities, lack of financial checks and balances and negligent financial record keeping? Were these shortcomings due to lack of oversight, ignorance..."We didn't know what we needed to know", or malfeasance?

Two, Do you think anybody ought to be held accountable for these problems? Should the Council members be held accountable, highly compensated staff, including the chief administrator, the auditors?

Three, Do you suspect that there are other problems with the management of the Borough's affairs and there is another shoe about to drop?

Four, how do you think these problems reflect on the entire community in terms of the opinion of others outside the Borough?

It is an open secret that the Borough Tax Collector did not retire voluntarily. Is she simply a scapegoat for the culpability of others?

The public does not really know about the final terms of settlement with the Tax Collector, or the employment lawsuit. The public also does not know how the Council intends to pay for the legal and accounting expenses that have logged well over $100,000 and still accruing.

If the Borough insurance policies pay for the legal defense and accounting expenses, the tax payers are still stuck with the deductible (probably $20,000) and get ready for a huge increase in premiums upon renewal of the policies.

PS Someone wrote in the Patch that the Building Department employees undergo regular performance evaluations. May I ask by whom and when, and were their salaries tied to their performance? The Council Members don't seem to know that, since they have said there is no evaluation procedures in place. Who sees these evaluations if the Borough Council does not?
Thanks!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Alex Viecelli April 28, 2014 at 09:04 PM
@ Jack. The price of fuel is a big issue for us too. 70% of our business used to be drive thru. When gas hit $3.00 a gallon the drive thru traffic went down and walkup traffic went up. We in business get hit from all sides. Minimum wage increases, fuel surcharges from suppliers, electric and natural gas price increases. People have less money to spend. As for regulations I now spend around an hour a day on paperwork. What scares me the most is 11 years ago when we opened for the first three years we took 10% a night in Plastic. Now its up to over 40% some nights. That's a strong indication of how cash poor this economy has become. The biggest difference between the great depression and today's economic times is people have credit cards and didn't in the great depression.
Jack Kennell April 28, 2014 at 09:46 PM
Alex: Glad to hear from a voice in the wilderness. The delusional's in public sector just don't get it. We just had a young girl USCG inspector with her new shiny bars pick on things so nitpicking that even her superiors in Phila. were embarrassed. Where do these kookoo's come from? Where's our buddy Palanchi? We need some excitement. (I heard that the mob might have got him.)
Brandy the Dog April 28, 2014 at 10:22 PM
The good ol' boys ain't so good. Burn, baby, burn!
Tom Bolcar May 11, 2014 at 09:19 AM
I stated this in a past post. There is a HUGH disconnect between the mayor and business administrator, and the council. The mayor seems to run interference for boro employees. If he was more forthcoming the council would not have had to hire an accounting firm. I have herd him say the exact opposite to the council from one meeting to the next. This does not excuse the council from letting him, and previous mayors, get away with it. When asked by me about constant discrepancies council members told me simply "that's the way it is". The problem is with our system of government. The mayor and business administrator do not provide sufficient WRITTEN reports to a council that has never, no matter who was on it, demanded or required them. Sure things are a mess. Everything is verbal. There is no paper trail. There can be no accountability without evidence. That's why there should be no surprise that the tax collector can run legal rings around them all. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will tell an employer that without written evidence of safety meetings and activity, a company HAS NO SAFETY PROGRAM, and that employer is fined accordingly. All entities of town government and administration should learn a lesson from OSHA and move forward. As info, I vote for the person and am not and never have been a member of any club. This isn't the time for "club" politics. As for accountability the town obviously needs a new business administrator with an iron hand to get things organized. We need someone is more worried about DOING THE JOB than keeping the job or this muddy mess will just get deeper.
Frank Pagano May 11, 2014 at 11:28 AM
Tom You are actually right on the money. I have contacted the Attorney Generals about the goings on in this township and endorsements here to Christie are another story That may be tied to the 13,000,000 Roof job and state $$. That is one is for another day!

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