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Despite Savings, Bloomingdale Council May Keep Previous Auditor

Council agrees not to have Huntley serve on Budget Committee.

The and Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy may never agree on exactly what the budget shortfalls from last year were. But something else they could not agree on Tuesday night was who should be auditing borough financials as the council considered opting to have last year's Auditor Dieter Lerch appointed again, despite a $7,000 savings that was included in the bid from another auditor.

The discussion began with a presentation by Chief Financial Officer Donna Mollineaux who stood at the microphone to answer questions after Dunleavy told the council that after receiving annual audit figures from Lerch, the borough will have an over $307,000 budget shortfall going into 2012. Included in that figure is money that was allocated as for social security and to pay back repairs for damage from Hurricane Irene, as well as unpaid bills and $170,000 that was depleted from surplus. Republican Council Members Linda Shortman and Glenn Schiffman argued that the money spent from surplus should not be included in the figure, as Schiffman said the borough has been spending money from surplus for the last five years.

But Mollineaux and Dunleavy warned that the borough must come up with ways to bring in new revenue in 2012 in order to support the loses from last year.

"Unless you're planning on getting rid of whole departments, then you have to find a way to supplement this budget," Mollineaux said.

One way to supplement the budget included a $7,000 savings in cost for a borough auditor presented in a bid by an auditor in contrast to Lerch's $35,000 bid. Shortman said Lerch verbally agreed to only charge the borough $33,000 but since it was not in writing, the council would have only been able to vote on the $35,000 included in the bid. The council ended up voting to table the measure, with Democrat Councilmen John D'Amato and Ray Yazdi voting against it.

"Why are you so attached to this one guy?" D'Amato asked the council majority. "We have a problem. We have no money. I have no dedication to anyone in this town."

The majority council members did not give an explanation for the vote to table, but Yazdi said he did not feel it was fair taxpayers foot the bill for the more expensive auditor.

"I believe the four of you should pay for it," he said.

He also then advised the public that he would be going around with a recall petition asking the public to sign to force the majority members out of office.

Dunleavy also asked the council to discuss whether they still planned to have former Councilwoman and Budget Committee Chairwoman as previously suggested by the majority. During disucussions of the shortfalls, Yazdi indicated that Huntley and Lerch were primarily to blame for the borough's financial situation. But Schiffman said the majority was no longer considering having Huntley serve on the committee.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the council voted on the appointment, when they actually voted to table the appointment for further review of the auditors' contracts.

Elaine Petrowski February 23, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Debbie O'Neill February 23, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I believe I read on the NJ.Com/Bloomingdale forum that one of the posters said that Mrs. Shortman indicated that her reasons for voting for the current (and more expensive) auditor were "personal." Did anyone in attendance at the council meeting hear her say this and, if so, could someone please elaborate? Thanks!
Karen Dellaripa February 23, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I find it unacceptable that the council could not explain why they voted for a more expensive auditor. The residents of Bloomingdale should not accept this! This is our money they are spending - without an explanation!
Ann February 23, 2012 at 04:56 PM
,,,and this is the very auditor who (along with Huntley) said there would not be a problem with a shortfall, is he not? Now we're in deep trouble. And Shortman wants to put Huntley on the Budget Committee!!!!!!!
Carolyn February 23, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Karen I don't think that the residents do accept this, or we would not have had the landslide election we just had. Sometimes when a new group gets into power they find it hard to resist a clean sweep. Toward that end, they tried to remove some wonderful recreation people. The town rebelled. Then they went after a lawyer who had served the town for 10 years. The "new" lawyer cost a lot of money, had little success and is gone. The "new" auditor probably should be gone since he costs too much and left us with a shortfall. No reason has been given to my knowledge for keeping him. The majority probably has others, like Ehrenberg, in their sites now. Perhaps in a few election cycles that big-spending majority will be gone too! Voters ARE paying attention. November is coming.
Kevin Bross February 23, 2012 at 06:02 PM
The incompetence and malfeasance of the current republican majority is truly stunning to watch in action. I attended council meetings during the end of 2011, and as a citizen, shared the Mayor's frustration as he tried to call attention to, and deal with the obvious budget shortfalls created by this majority and their poor decisions. Their response was to silence him by tabling discussions, or to insult him, with one councilwoman telling him she hopes he gets a calculator for Christmas. Well the truth can be a bitter pill to swallow, and sometimes comes back to bite you in the rear end. It is now obvious that it is the republican majority and their auditor that needs a calculator. Despite the fact that we are seriously in the hole, the majority continues to make decisions that hurt the town and taxpayers, simply because it consolidates power for their party. Please get that recall petition going, I would like to be the first to sign! And you anonymous apologists can keep your thoughts to yourself. If your words speak the truth, you should have enough courage to sign your name after them.
Kit Emory February 24, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I wholeheartedly support Mr. Yazdi's suggestion of starting a recall process. It's time to show this "majority" that they do not actually represent the interests of the people who elected them and that we are no longer interested in their self-serving, politically-charged decisions. It's embarrassing to think that a small town could have such petty, destructive, and arrogant people in power. I don't care what party you align with, if you claim you want to improve the financial standing of Bloomingdale and then continually vote - for personal partisan reasons - to hire more expensive personnel than necessary, then you must GO. The sooner the better. So far, the Republicans on the Council have brought in an att'y who charges over $100K more than the previous one and now an auditor whose bid is $7K over another - all for no publicly stated reason. This is on top of the amazing financial blunders that have created the enormous shortfall we are currently experiencing. Shortman, et al.: If you are not willing to stand for the principles you ran on - and you've made it VERY clear you are not - you need to leave! There is a lot of damage in need of repair....
jersey girl February 25, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Bravo to all the above commenters for speaking up. It is time that all of us to gather together and do what is right for the community. The council "majority" has run OUR community down the river with their "personal" reasons on their voting. The debt they have caused in this town is outrageous, and yet their are no regrets on their part. Shame on them and yes it is time for them to get off the dais.
Kristen February 25, 2012 at 04:23 AM
I must say that the comments here are ridiculous. It is obvious why they should keep the current auditor, he is telling it like it is. I feel sorry for this town. All of you democrat supporters are not looking at the big picture. Last year's atty cost more because of the police arbitration. How soon everyone forgets that the dems were in control for ten 10 10 10 years and that is why we are in the hole we are in now. You blame the republicans who only had their say for one year. My God!!! Open your eyes. the hole we are in is not due to one year but the last ten years. The current admin is trying to get you out of the hole. And the debt. Oh Yes!! They voted to bond for the flooding problem. NOT SIDEWALKS. Keep it up jersey girl, sally fane, debbie oneil and you will have to move, because if the dems get control again ...... try and think about this rationally for the whole town.... and I mean really think
Kit Emory February 25, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Kristen, we agree on one thing: I feel sorry for this town, too. And will continue to feel sorry for it until we can successfully recall those majority Council members who have been so irresponsible in their civic duties.
Kit Emory February 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Frankly, if I saw some responsible, non-politically oriented work being accomplished by the majority Council members, I'd be happy to support them, but such is not the case, nor has it been from the outset. They have approached their roles with arrogance and hostility and most of us in this town are fed up with the ugliness. How's this for rational thinking?: If my representative knows there's a financial crisis and wants to hire an auditor that will charge, say, $7K more than the next candidate, I expect to hear a very good reason for the extra expenditure. None was given. When this comes on top of the town att'y being let go so that a new one can be hired at practically twice the salary, I want to hear an AMAZINGLY good reason for my already stretched tax dollars going to support this. None was given. I'm "really thinking" here, Kristen, and the only conclusion my Harvard-trained brain can come up with is that the reasons are either personal or political or both. Bottom line: people who act like this are irresponsible and ill-suited to positions of power.
Carolyn February 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I think the current auditor did not tell it "like it is". If, as Kristen suggests, that was his motive, then why did he say there would NOT be a shortfall? No, the auditor told it like the Republicans wanted so they could boast of coming in under the 2 percent cap and try to use that fact to win the election. It didn't work because voters are paying attention thanks to watching videos of the meetings. Incidentally, the Republican majority tried hard to prevent those meetings from being recorded for the voters and threw in every possible objection. The big picture is that when a town is in a "hole" you don't fix it by spending an extra hundred thousand on an attorney. You fix it by CUTTING costs. And, by the way, the extra cost of the attorney was not caused by the police arbitration as Kristen thinks (which he lost). His contract started way higher than the previous attorney to begin with. The figures on the cost of the Republican-hired attorney are available for anyone to see.
TruthBeTold February 25, 2012 at 12:52 PM
There you go again! Blame the cops! How about doing some research on what you are talking about Kristen. First look at what the town spent the last time there was an arbitration with the Police Dept. 15k. This boob charged the town close to 50k in legal bills. Second, The attorney knew that the arbitration was BINDING and his appeals were shot down by the state! TWICE! So why did he bill the town an additional 10k for each of his 2 appeals! He didn't have a clue about labor laws and had no business advising the town to appeal when he knew damn well he was only padding his wallet. Its downright shameful! And the worst is the mental midgets that went right along with him on the council because they are too lazy to actually look into the matter and see that he was totally ripping us off! Recall has a nice Ring Mr. Yazdi! I SAY GO FOR IT!
TruthBeTold February 26, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Carolyn is on the mark with that post
paul bastante February 29, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Hi Debbie, I was in attendance. Ms. Shortman was asked point blank and directly by Mr. Yazdi for her reason for her vote and she said, "it's personal". The tapes will be out soon enough and everyone will be able to hear her make the statement themselves, but absolutely, that is what she said.
paul bastante February 29, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I was impressed with Mr. Yazdi as well. What he did was have our backs. Mr. D'Amato as well with his actions and with his vote. And from what I understand, wasn't this motion tabled for some reason. I was in the room, and I thought that even though it was voted on, that it was tabled. In any case, I had a hard time picking my jaw up off the floor being as how right before the auditor issue came up for a vote, every single council person (except the one who has been muzzled to the benefit of the republican party) lamented the dire circumstances we find ourselves in. Every last one of the majority heard how there are 50K in legal bills from last year that we cannot pay sitting in a draw at town hall. They all heard that we start the budget process this year 38K in the red, without the 170K surplus that floated us the last 4 years, with 50K in bills we can't pay. Then to go and vote in favor of the more expensive, it is a real slap in the face. Mrs. Shortman, she is the worst of them all. "personal Reasons"? Really? I don't agree with your personal reasons, but I guess I just have to eat it, huh? Is that what you are telling every tax payer in Bloomingdale?? Where do I sign Ray?
Ann March 01, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Bastante is right about Mrs. Shortman,. Oddly, it seems as if she really isn't thinking or isn't following the argument. The men at least know when to keep quiet and gather information when they don't know what's going on. I don't know if Bloomingdale has ever recalled a candidate, but sometimes I think they should.


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