Finance board takes action on Bergen authority budget as case winds through courts

TRENTON – One state agency reversed a decision of another state agency today as part of an ongoing saga involving

TRENTON – One state agency reversed a decision of another state agency today as part of an ongoing saga involving the Northwest Bergen County Utilities Authority.

The Local Finance Board reversed a decision of the state Division of Local Government Services regarding the authority’s budget.

The LGS had turned thumbs down on the authority’s budget previously. The Finance Board action today was sought so that as a dispute between the county executive and authority members winds its way through courts, the authority can operate under its existing budget, the board was told.

At the heart of the matter is Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan who had vetoed meeting minutes of the authority, arguing the members were not entitled to annual stipends of $5,000 or health benefits.

Thomas Neff, who is chairman of the Finance Board as well as director of Local Government Services, said today that in their view there never was a lawful action taken to establish the stipends.

Donovan last month announced she fired seven authority commissioners because they would not give up the stipends and benefits.

The dismissals are in the hands of Superior Court. The authority argues, among other things, that it is not subject to Donovan’s control.

Although today’s decision means the budget moves forward without stipends or benefits being reduced, Finance Board members were in agreement that the courts now will make the ultimate decision.

In other Finance Board action

The Local Finance Board approved these bond refunding applications:

$8.3 million for Greenwich in Gloucester County; $35 million for Ocean County; $4.075 million for Montvale in Bergen County; $7 million for Freehold in Monmouth County; $2.2 million for Linden in Union County; $3.4 million for Cumberland County; $6.9 million for Hudson County; and $4.5 million for Belmar in Monmouth County.

These school refunding bond applications were approved:

$4 million for Wall in Monmouth County; $6.8 million for Southern Regional High School in Ocean County; and $7.965 million for Garwood in Union County.

The Little Egg Harbor Municipal Utilities Authority received the OK for $3.5 million in water/sewer refunding bonds.

These items were approved:

$8.6 million for the Southeast Monmouth Municipal Utilities Authority; $28 million for bond refunding for Jersey City; $2.337 million for Pitman in Gloucester County; $85,000 for tax appeals in Englishtown in Monmouth County; $8.252 for Plainfield City; and $6.213 million for Trenton.

Fire district applications

Hamilton Township (Mercer) Fire District 2 received approval for $582,102 for project financing. This is for a lease purchase of a pumper fire truck.

Chairman Thomas Neff raised the question of discussions into possible fire district consolidations in Hamilton and urged District 2 to participate in them going forward, and emphasized that they are just discussions at this point.

The Parsippany-Troy Hills Fire District 5 received approval for $449,768 for project financing, also the lease purchase of a pumper fire engine.

Bond refundings

Weehawken in Hudson County won approval for $732,000 in tax appeals.

The following bond refundings were OK’d: Lavallette in Ocean County won approval for $5.25 million; Eastampton in Burlington County, $6.81 million; Harrison in Hudson County, $4.5 million; Perth Amboy in Middlesex, $6.64 million;

The Pequannock River Basin Regional Sewer Authority in Passaic County was approved for $5 million in bond refunding.

The Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency was OK’d for $3.7 million in project refinancing.

The Morris County Improvement Authority was approved for $30.2 million in project financing.

The Camden County Improvement Authority was approved for $8 million in Camden County Vocational School Energy Savings. 

The Vernon Township Board of Education in Sussex County was OK’d for $6.3 in school refunding bonds.

Parking authority

The New Brunswick Parking Authority was approved for $3.525 million in project financing.

The board was told that in 2010 seven parking authority employees were arrested on theft charges and their cases are in various stages of moving through the court system.

As a result of an investigation, the 2010 audit is not completed but will be submitted by May 15, the board was told.

But as a result, the authority has revamped cash operations and replaced a longtime auditor, the finance board was told.

Earlier stories:

Finance board OKs Atlantic City budget

Salem County fund transfer OK may help ease budget pressure

  Finance board takes action on Bergen authority budget as case winds through courts