2015 Budget Hearings: Cornerstone; Elections; Public Works; and Human Services

By John Bury | March 25, 2015

Yes there were some hitches with the Runnells sale:
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Cornerstone:
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Elections:
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Public Works portion:
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Human Services
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Solar Panel Scam Rips Off the Feds Too

By John Bury | March 24, 2015

It is not only Union County taxpayers who were duped by DeCotiis, Birdsall, Gabel and others.  The federal government was also taken in.

We start with the July 25, 2013 Official Statement on a Union County bond issue which admits on pages 28-29:

Lease Payment Default in County Guaranteed UCIA Renewable Energy Bond Issue

The May 1, 2013 monthly lease payment due under the Lease Purchase Agreement, dated as of May 1, 2011 (the “Lease Agreement”), between the UCIA (as lessor) and Tioga Solar Union County 1, LLC (“Tioga Union”) (as lessee) was not made by Tioga Union. The UCIA subsequently declared Tioga Union in default, accelerated all lease payments and made a demand on Tioga Energy, Inc. (“Tioga”), the parent company of Tioga Union, for full payment under its guaranty of Tioga Union’s obligations, which guaranty is capped at $4,000,000. The lease payments are equal to and secure the payment of debt service on the UCIA’s $14,175,000 aggregate principal amount of outstanding County of Union Guaranteed Renewable Energy Program Lease Revenue Bonds, Series 2011 (Federally Taxable) (the “Renewable Energy Bonds”). Under the Lease Agreement, the revenues generated by the renewable energy projects (the “Projects”) financed by the Renewable Energy Bonds are credited against the lease payments. The Renewable Energy Bonds are guaranteed by the County.

In fact Union County, through the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA), did wind up making bond payments of $330,000 on October 2, 2013 and $680,000 on November 4, 2014 out a total $2,831,008 spent by the UCIA through March 4, 2015.  Now the slimy part.

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County employee and vendors sentencings rescheduled

By Tina Renna | March 23, 2015

Former Union County Director Niel (Aniello) Palmieri was scheduled to be sentenced on March 17, 2015 on charges of mail fraud. Sentencing has been rescheduled for April 21, 2015.

Frank Vicendese of Viva Group sentencing has been rescheduled for May 20, 2015.

Richard Greer sentencing has been rescheduled for May 20, 2015.

All are to appear before Judge Walls.

The details on all three cases can be found on this F.B.I. press release.

UCCF 3/12/15: Freeholder Meeting Miscellany

By John Bury | March 21, 2015

Pat Moschetti on the budget and Linda Stender:
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Bruce Paterson on the budget and Al Mirabella
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John Bury on the budget and Runnells
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Slave Names:
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Freeholder budget comments:
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Golf Budget Impact

By John Bury | March 19, 2015

You wouldn’t know that 2014 was a tumultuous year for golf operations in Union County from the mentions of golf at the budget hearings which consisted of:
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Nothing about a new five-year contract for KemperSports (which includes having KemperSports run banquet and Red Knot operations out of the new facility that county taxpayers provided them with) or budget numbers which, despite ignoring  the Galloping Hill Clubhouse debt, county employee pension and benefit costs,  and raiding the Open Space trust fund, still loses more and more money:

budget golf 15

Runnells Budget Impact

By John Bury | March 18, 2015

In budget hearings the sale of Runnells was mentioned as an accomplishment:
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But check out the 2015 Union County executive budget and you won’t find a chapter on Runnells this year though there is still plenty in the numbers section and it still shows Runnells losing money (even without considering the cost of pension and health benefits for county employees):

runnells budgets

 

The best explanations available of the numbers:

County Board of Pay Patients: Probably the money Runnells generates from the patients, including from insurance

Maintenance of patients with mental diseases: money that DMHAS pays for psychiatry patients who are indigent. This is the pot of gold that Center Management (CM) wants which requires a separate license that the County still holds until CM is deemed qualified by the state. One source believes that CM does have the DOH license for the whole facility so they could run Cornerstone if they wanted but would not get the $8.4 million from DMHAS.

Peer Grouping: according to an nj.com story:

The Association of Counties has advocated to the state government on behalf of the facilities, successfully lobbying for a freezing of Medicaid reimbursement rates until 2016 and a phasing out of $30 million in “peer grouping” funding that was established 20 years ago to help county nursing homes offset costs private facilities don’t face, such as pension payments for its public workers. That funding — 10 to 15 percent of which was required to go toward community programs such as Meals on Wheels — was originally set to be terminated all-together, and the phasing out now allows counties to plan ahead, Donnadio said.

And according to Union County:
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UCCF 3/12/15: Transportation Study $240,000

By John Bury | March 17, 2015

2015-235: Authorizing the County Manager to enter into an agreement with The RBA Group, Inc., Parsippany, New Jersey, to provide professional services for the transportation planning study entitled, “Union County Transportation Master Plan” in an amount not to exceed $240,000.00.
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RBA Group political donations by company and individuals

UCCF 3/12/15: Abusing Sick Days

By John Bury | March 16, 2015

2015-229: Approving the adoption of The County of Union, Sick Leave and Workers’ Compensation Verification Policy.
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A4164

By John Bury | March 15, 2015

Half the sorrows of the world, I suppose, are caused by making false assumptions.

H. L. Mencken; Selected Prejudices, page 78

The New Jersey pension system is going bankrupt and the reforms being suggested break down into three steps with the first two both necessary and possible:

  1. Get rid of the defined benefit concept with the state picking up the $200 billion shortfall which they will get from….
  2. Moving the cost of teacher pensions and health benefits back to the localities who will pick up the $200 billion needed from…..
  3. Saving on the cost of health benefits for their employees.

Yes defined benefit plans need to go away for public sector employees since politicians and their enablers will always underfund them.  Likewise localities should be picking up all costs for their school districts rather than negotiating benefits that oblige income-tax payers.

But believing that local governments will generate their $200 billion to kick off this process by a combination of higher employee contributions and instituting wellness programs is nuts.  There is a better way:

 

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Budget Hearings 2015: Administrative Services; Corrections; County Counsel

By John Bury | March 13, 2015

Frist a little self-congratulation about the Runnells Sale:
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Administrative Services
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Corrections
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County Counsel
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