While every other board and commission in Middletown is 100% volunteer, the Sewerage Authority (TOMSA) board members are highly compensated – they receive salary, pension credit, and health benefits. The board meets once a month for less than an hour.
When the Sewerage Authority was formed back in the 1960s, the board met between 3 and 5 times a week during the period when the sewer system was being designed. Today, the board’s effort is no greater than that of any other board in town, all the rest of whom volunteer their time.
Further, in the beginning TOMSA board members received only an annual stipend of $1,000. They did not receive pension or medical benefits, which are in violation of the Township’s own ordinances that state that TOMSA board members shall receive no compensation other than salary.
There are 5 regular members and 2 alternates on the TOMSA board. Today, the annual salaries are $2,150 for the chairperson and $1,750 for other members. Health and pension benefits are worth tens of thousands more.
In 2009, in response to a new state law, the Township Committee passed Ordinance No. 2009-2967, which states “the Township Committee of the Township of Middletown believes it is the best interest of the taxpayers of the Township to eliminate the receipt of pension and/or health benefits by part-time elected and appointed officials”.
That ordinance stripped pension and health benefits for new board appointees but allowed for the continuation of benefits for any board member currently receiving them.
Thus, the Township Committee can save taxpayers a great deal of money by not re-appointing TOMSA board members as terms expire. Yet the re-appointments continue.
At Middletown’s annual organization meeting on Jan 6th, the Township Committee re-appointed to 5-year terms three members of the Sewerage Authority board whose current terms expire on Feb. 1st.
One of the re-appointees, Thomas Stokes, has been on the TOMSA board 25 years next month and has lived out-of-state half the year since 2010. With his re-appointment to the board, Mr. Stokes was changed from a regular member to an alternate, no doubt to save him the trouble of attending meetings while he continues to collect salary and benefits through Feb. 2018.
The patronage needs to end. Residents should demand that the Township Committee pass an ordinance eliminating all compensation – salary and benefits – for all board members.
Eliminating TOMSA board perks would save Middletown property owners over $100,000 a year.