MIDDLETOWN, NJ:  Middletown residents asked a variety of questions to the Middletown Township committee about topics related to the municipal budget and recent resolutions during the committee’s May 9thworkshop meeting. 

The meeting began with the committee voting to pass a resolution authorizing an upcoming auction of some township properties, among other resolutions. 

Following this, the committee gave residents a chance to speak their minds about local issues they were concerned or curious about.   The first resident to speak was Don Watson, who asked about the auctioning process for township properties.

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Watson said he was confused about the 30-day deadline for auctioning property, as he wondered whether that meant those bidding at a Middletown Township property auction would need to secure all the necessary municipal development approvals within 30 days. 

Brian Nelson, Middletown municipal attorney, said the 30-day deadline was not for securing any development approvals, but rather to have certain inspections, such as for environmental impact and safety, completed by that time. 

“That doesn’t mean they have approval for anything,” Nelson said. “So if you want to buy a property, you want to check for an oil tank, that’s all it is.”

Mary Ellen O’Malley, a local resident of Indian Terrace, located in Middletown’s Atlantic Highlands section, asked the committee about the status of a proposed road pavement project there; as well as the expected timetable to complete the project, how much funding it’s going to receive, and what approvals the project has received so far. 

Ted Maloney, Middletown Township’s Engineer, said the project has already been approved to take place, that samples have already been taken at several locations along the road to find out how the road should be paved, that a preliminary design should be done within a couple of weeks, and that the project is financed by about $300,000 in grant funding. 

“However, the exact timing for project completion has not been finalized yet”, Maloney said.  “We had one originally, and we’re sticking with that for now, but we’ll probably find that the schedule will be moved,” he said. 

Local resident Jeanna Sager asked about a line item in the upcoming municipal budget in which Middletown’s sewer authority (officially named the Township of Middletown Sewer Authority, or TOMSA) was projected as having a $480,000 surplus that they would be handing over to the township.  

“Why are we not putting that in our taxpayers hands, instead of the township?,” Sager asked. 

Middletown Finance director Colleen Lapp, said that it actually does go back to taxpayers, but in the form of an indirect property tax offset rather than as a direct credit to sewer ratepayers.

“In the end, it does go back to the taxpayers because it comes into the budget as a revenue, which is an offset to the amount that we (need to) raise for taxation” Lapp said. “Which goes directly to the taxpayer as a reduction in taxes.”  

In addition to the program’s public portion, some of Middletown Township Committee members also made some remarks about other topics as well. 

Committee member Rick Hibell honored three former Middletown firefighters who passed away in the past month, two of whom were former fire captains. 

“That’s three brave volunteers that we’re down, so if anyone would like to help us, come on out, please,” he said. 

Hibell also said that Governor Phil Murphy, in his proposed upcoming budget, plans to cut $33 million from the Fireman’s Relief Association, which is an assistance fund for firefighters. 

“We as a committee strongly disagree with what was done,” he said. “We sent a letter (in opposition) off today, we’re going to stand behind that, and push it all the way to the top.”

Mayor Anthony Perry announced during his remarks that Middletown residents will now be able to access from the computer or phone an official tax calculator that helps each resident figure how much of their property tax payments that go to the township goes to each of the various township departments such as police, fire, etc.

“You can see penny for penny, where your municipal share of your property taxes, where that goes to,” he said.