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Middletown Twp Committee Approves Lucrative Board Compensation

Perks for Sewerage Authority board appointees cost taxpayers $100,000 a year.

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.

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NJarhead January 17, 2013 at 01:42 PM
I don't understand your obsession with TOMSA.
bd January 17, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Because you need to WIN some elections to make changes----sour grapes
NJarhead January 17, 2013 at 04:26 PM
But why change or fix what isn't broke? I can't help but think that this is a case of someone striving to be a politician by attempting to put her mark on something, anything; "here's a way to get my name out there." I do not have a good felling about that.
Limulus Polyphemus January 17, 2013 at 05:21 PM
She is obsessed with tomsa but if she is correct about the out of state guy getting paid and pension benes she is correct that is messed up and someone should be flogged with jarheads head for it.
NJarhead January 17, 2013 at 06:37 PM
What's the problem LP?
commonman January 17, 2013 at 06:50 PM
it speaks to a system filled with fraud and waste may be a small peice but u fix a bunch of small things and it adds up quickly. Keep calling them out the fraud/waste that is local govt has to be stopped I commend u for sticking up for me
Limulus Polyphemus January 17, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Jarhead - if you cannot figure that out on your own I will not attempt to explain it to you.
Joe January 18, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Hey Linda Baum - you left out the part about Middletown having the lowest rates by far in the state, the best service, and a good portion of its revenue from surrounding towns. This is what passes for the Democrat party in Middletown - find something that is efficient, well-run, and a great value for the residents and look to destroy it. Yet they will fight tooth and nail to save library branches that hardly anyone uses and a director who gives out 6% raises, meal allowances, weekly overtime and hiring sprees during a recession. Jon Corzine would be proud.
Belford Bob January 18, 2013 at 12:37 PM
How much is the state of NJ paying you for your pension and benefits?
Cathy Daniels January 18, 2013 at 02:53 PM
I'm not saying we shouldn't try to correct wrongs or save taxpayers money, but our sewerage bills are relatively low (thanks in part to the great planning of the late, great Ed Schumann, who led the initial development). There are probably other utilities/services that demand greater scrutiny.
Linda Baum January 18, 2013 at 03:03 PM
What does any of that have to do with whether or not board members should receive compensation? Are you in favor of excessive compensation for board members or not?
Linda Baum January 18, 2013 at 03:25 PM
Many people are not aware that for each of the last three years, 2010-2012, TOMSA transferred about $370K a year to the Township for tax relief. Money saved by not paying excessive compensation to board appointees is more money for tax relief. Our Township Committee has full authority to provide that additional relief to taxpayers, and if every dollar matters like they keep telling us, they shouldn’t hesitate to do so.
Cathy Daniels January 18, 2013 at 03:35 PM
To clarify, I'm not in favor of the health, pension and other benefits, but if the annual stipends are incentive for them to do a good, honest job, then I'm ok with that.
Belford Bob January 18, 2013 at 04:04 PM
The information provided is already false and questionable. Clifford Raisch has been part of the MCIA for almost 10 years. Clearly he did not leave the authority to join the MCIA. I guess if you just throw enough against the wall and hope it sticks it becomes truth right?
Randall Gabrielan January 18, 2013 at 08:06 PM
The township committee made a big deal a few years ago about not taking the salary to which they are entitled, and declining previously offered benefits. This sent the wrong message as that position entails a lot of work and incurs personal expenses that come from fulfulling the duties, required and expected and implies that only those able to fund their service can be able to serve. If committee members take pride in working long hours without compensation, in the same spirit why should the sewer people get anything for little work? The members appear to belong to the same township monolith as well.
Joe January 18, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Aren't you on the county payroll for a hefty salary for what, I don't know?
Linda Baum January 18, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Thanks for that catch. I just checked the MCIA website, which says Mr. Raisch has been a commissioner since 2003. I believe that when I asked the TOMSA board at their meeting in Nov. or Dec. 2011 about the vacant seat, I was told by the board or executive director that Mr. Raisch left to join the MCIA. But as you correctly point out, he was already an MCIA commissioner. I will correct my exhibit.
Oliver Cromwell January 20, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Annual stipends should not be an incentive to do a good honest job. If receipt of benefits is the reason one is serving on a local board, I submit that that person is destined to do a poor job. Financial reward is a byproduct of excellence. Excellence rarely results when one is motivated by money. I believe that removal of benefits from TOMSA board members will likely not adversely affect the performance of the board but in fact may improve its performance while simultaneously save the ratepayers money.
CommonSense January 22, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Hey Randy - weren't you forced to resign your position on the Library Board because you were caught selling your own books to the Library and signing the voucher? Sounds like you are spreading some sour grapes around.
NJarhead January 23, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Yea, I figured you'd have nothing of substance to share.

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