Hiking Fees & Taking Back Buyouts

By John Bury | December 6, 2016

Ordinance 780-2016, set to be rubber-stamped this Thursday, does three things:

  1. Hikes Golf and Stable fees:

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UCCF 11/22/16: Miscellany

By John Bury | December 1, 2016

2016-929: Resolution adjusting the requirements for the participation in the Union County Health Benefits Program for part-time employees.
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2016-909: Authorizes the County Manager to adjust and/or change the Internal Position Control Schedules.

2016-936: Authorizing the County Manager to sign any and all documents necessary to enter into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the PBA199-Correction Officers effective January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2017.
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2016-911: Sponsoring the Union County Performing Arts Center’s Black History Month Celebration held on February 11, 2017 in the amount of $3,500.
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UCCF 11/22/16: No More Health Benefit Buyouts

By John Bury | November 27, 2016

2016-930: Resolution discontinuing the Union County Voluntary Health Benefit Buyout Program effective January 1, 2017.
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Prior countywathcers reporting:

Employee insurance opt-out costing $1,665,000
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UCCF 11/22/16: Drawing Out More Courthouse Costs

By John Bury | November 22, 2016

Remember, this is only for the drawings.  No construction costs.  The county could have bought a Picasso for this kind of money.

2016-882: Amending Resolution Number 2015-527, adopted on June 18, 2015, a Professional Architectural Design and Construction Management Service Contract with Netta Architects, of Mountainside, New Jersey for additional architectural/engineering services associated with the Union County Courthouse Complex New Tower Stairwell Modernization Project, in an amount not to exceed $510,000 for a new contract amount not to exceed $4,328,330.

At the November 10, 2016 agenda meeting it was explained this way:
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This is what the building that is supposed to be getting a TCO (Temporary Certificate of Occupancy) in six weeks looks like tonight:
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At tonight’s regular freeholder meeting, more questions:
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Union County Pension Scofflaws

By John Bury | November 21, 2016

In 2010 ‘reformer’ Christie took aim at curbing excessive benefits for public employees:

Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers of both parties will unveil a series of sweeping pension and benefit reforms Monday that could affect every public employee in New Jersey while saving the state billions of dollars, according to four officials with direct knowledge of the plan.

The proposals would require workers and retirees at all levels of government and local school districts to contribute to their own health care costs, ban part-time workers at the state and local levels from participating in the underfunded state pension system, cap sick leave payouts for all public employees and constitutionally require the state to fully fund its pension obligations each year.

That state funding requirement turned out to be a joke and, after looking through the state database of active pension members, that ban on part-time workers does not seem to have completely taken in Union County.

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Union County Employees in Pension System

By John Bury | November 18, 2016

This started out as a research project on the status of a Roselle borough clerk who, according to a story in the LocalSource, has been on administrative leave since 2012 and, prior to that, had some trouble with OPRA requests.

Going to the New Jersey database of government employees yields this entry:

BLUESTEIN RHONA $79,180 1949 3/1/2005 ROSELLE BOROUGH UNION COUNTY

confirming that Ms. Bluestein is on the Roselle payroll even though she is eligible for retirement and apparently has not done any work for Roselle for four years. Are there other phantom employees in Union County?

Thanks to that state database and some basic Excel manipulation techniques we now have an easy-to-browse listing of public employees in Union County who are in the pension system as of June 30, 2016 (meaning you may not see your part-time elected officials included) in the UC Need to Know sidebar and here:

Happy hunting.

Escalating Staircase Costs

By John Bury | November 17, 2016

From the November 10, 2016 agenda meeting:

DEPARTMENT OF ENGINEERING, PUBLIC WORKS & FACILITIES MANAGEMENT
Joseph Graziano, Director
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1. Amending Resolution Number 2015-527, adopted on June 18, 2015, a Professional Architectural Design and Construction Management Service Contract with Netta Architects, of Mountainside, New Jersey for additional architectural/engineering services associated with the Union County Courthouse Complex New Tower Stairwell Modernization Project, in an amount not to exceed $510,000.00 for a new contract amount not to exceed $4,328,330.00.
The Westfield Leader reported today:

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Union County Websites

By John Bury | November 16, 2016

In 2013 Monmouth University put out a report rating 540 municipal websites in New Jersey. Links to those websites in Union County (with their Monmouth rating) now appear on the right sidebar of this website for easy reference.

Whether the rankings still pertain is debatable but if access to budget documents is your primary concern then it is notable that…..

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Cranford Election Backers

By John Bury | November 15, 2016

Including what is becoming a very familiar name.

The Cranford Township Committee for 2016 consists of:

  • Andis Kalnins (R)
    Mayor
  • Mary O’Connnor (R)
    Deputy Mayor
  • John Mallon (R)
  • Thomas H. Hannen, Jr. (D)
  • Patrick Giblin (D)

Two Republican seats were up in 2016 so if the Democrats took even one of those seats (which they did) they would gain control of the Committee.  This situation would not have been lost on donors – one in particular.

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Garwood Election Backers

By John Bury | November 14, 2016

Who knew there was so much in Garwood up for grabs.

Here is the council for 2016:

garwood

Sara Todisco (D)
Mayor Charles Lombardo (D)
Ileen Cuccaro (R)
James Mathieu (R)
Joseph R. Sarno, III (R)
Michael Martin (R)
Louis Petruzzelli (D)

 

 

 

Martin and Mathieu’s seats were up this year and if the Democrats won they would take over the council. So who paid for these campaigns?

Republican

  • Republican Committee of Union County: $5,350
  • Bramnick for Assembly: $1,500
  • Kean for Senate: $500

Democrat

  • Business & Governmental Insurance Agency, Inc: $5,000
  • Ten Park Place Associates: $2,000
  • Victory 2016: $2,000
  • Garwood Democratic Club: $2,000
  • Joe Cryan for Sheriff: $500
  • Louis Petruzzelli: $625
  • Jack Molenaar: $400

Taking a closer look at these Democrat donors:

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