Tag Archives: CCIA

Dot . . . Dot . . . Dot . . . Millville Edition

I didn’t read the BEN column today. It’s not a regular read unless some keywords show up in my Google Alerts. Anyhow, I missed the announcement that Jeff Van Drew had canceled his attendance at Millville First’s meeting. So there I was. They held a meeting anyhow. I figured I might as well stay . . . Commissioner Vanaman confirmed that no Commissioner (or part-time employee) receives a stipend in lieu of health benefits. Bravo! . . . He also mentioned that 17 slash titles have been eliminated. He estimated the savings was about $60,000. Slash titles are the extra titles some city employees have that garner a stipend on top of the employee’s salary. Another bravo! . . . A deal is in the works that will save all police and fire positions with no tax increase to Millville property owners. If this comes through, I will be a very happy camper . . . I am still confused as to what the Recreation Department does. Apparently there will still be an employee in the department despite there being no recreational activities . . . The big news is that NJMP apparently is low on cash. They approached CCIA (the dump) to help them re-finance their $40 million debt. Talks are ongoing behind closed doors . . . Meanwhile, $425,000 was had from the Cumberland County Empowerment Zone for “offseason operating expenses.” The loan is written that it will be paid back in a year with interest until the impending CCIA loan comes through. There is also language in the Empowerment Zone deal that states if NJMP can’t repay in a year, the loan will be extended to a decade. Go figure . . . I also learned that RAD was started with $8.3 million of borrowed money. Millville is still paying the vig on that loan . . . It was discussed that 65% of the municipal budget goes to public safety. Obviously such a large percentage makes it difficult to cut from other areas . . . Vanaman rattled off seven officers who will be retiring or leaving within the next year. He stated that was why he is adamant no others are cut. That’s commendable, but the room was clear: whatever as long as there is no tax increase . . . There was some discussion about a hold-up with the stop light being installed on the east end of town . . . there was an older couple who cracked me up. The lady was 81 and indicated that the new high school was inconsequential when it was announced that it wouldn’t be built until at least 2016 (if at all). She dismissed it, “I’ll be gone by then.” Her husband agreed . . . I reckon there were at least 30 folks there . . . I questioned Vanaman regarding the noise study. He said there would be movement very soon on that. I reminded him that we had been hearing that for some time. He indicated there was a deal being brokered. I don’t have a lot of hope for a good resolution, but we shall see . . . It was an interesting meeting . . .

Touching a Nerve

You know when you touch a nerve . . . the rabble-rousers come after you.

The other day I posted about Feeholder Magazzu’s attack on former CCIA director Steve Wymbs. It’s a political smoke and mirrors show staged to make it look like Magazzu is working for the taxpayers of Cumberland County.

Anyhow, in that piece I commented how CCIA money ended up at Magazzu’s former runningmate’s pet project. It was just an example of how county/CCIA money is spread around to political allies. I could have used any of many examples. By selecting the Levoy, I opened myself up to those who cannot see the forest through the trees. The Levoy is being headed by the very popular Lauren Van Embden and her father. Dare speak in a way that shines a poor light in her direction, and one is personally attacked. I’ve been through this previously.

Despite what others say, I have nothing against the Van Embdens. I support the restoration of the theatre. I have questioned the amount of public money in the project. A million-dollar forgivable loan from the CCIA is part of that.

The CCIA has spread around plenty of money as one of the potty-mouth commentators here shared. The reason CCIA has all this money to share is because it has the ability to raise money through bonds. Bonds are sold. Those who purchase the bonds do so expecting to make a profit. That profit comes from taxpayers as we pick up the vig on the bonds.

Governments sell bonds all the time, Bob. Why is the a problem for you?

When the freeholders or the city wants to raise money, the public has input. Millville is currently improving its wastewater plant. To do so, it sold bonds to raise cash for it. This was all hashed out at City Commission meetings and the public had opportunities to voice their opinion.

The money CCIA doles out isn’t subjected to such an airing. CCIA, and other agencies (think port authorities and the like) are given bonding privileges exactly because the scrutiny isn’t the same. That is why politicians love authorities. Magazzu wants even more agencies. Why? More agencies = more money to control.

That long list of projects that CCIA funds includes the Levoy. I am sure most of those projects are just fine and dandy, as is the Levoy. The problem is that no one is held accountable for that money. Just look at Magazzu. He’s running around the county stating he had no say in the landfill expansion; it was all hidden at CCIA he claims.

Just like the earmarks that add to federal omnibus bills, agencies are local governments’ pork. If county taxpayers are going to fund Friends of Vineland Crew, Laurel Lake Property Owners Association, Devereux, etc., let it come from the freeholder board. That way, elected officials are tied to the doling out of the taxpayers’ money and can be held accountable.

In the meantime, they forced out an unelected official to put a stooge to do their dirty work for them.

Sure, call me a simpleton. When agencies are created, perhaps nuances beyond my ability to understand are created. But slippage comes as does corruption with such a set-up. I would rather have a straightforward, clean, and efficient government than one that has dumps funding the Millville Housing Authority.

For this I will be castigated.

Magazzu’s Government

With the ouster of Steve Wymbs from the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, we are now hearing the “true” story of the CCIA. It will be spun in Freeholder Director Lou Magazzu’s favor.

Today’s article certainly shows that to be the case.

At its close, Magazzu asked commissioners to reconsider a $23 million plan to expand the CCIA landfill on Jesse Bridge Road. He questioned the need for it, given slipping tonnage, and the authority’s ability to pay the debt.

Commissioners approved that project only last summer. The $23 million cost would be paid for through bonds.

Responding, Commissioner Joseph Veight said the authority’s previous administration did not give the board the information it should have had prior to voting on the project. Rainear replaced Steve Wymbs, who took a buyout last year while under pressure to agree to a new contract. Most of the board also has been recently replaced.

The spin is in high gear.

But this is Magazzu’s government. A dump should not be a multi-million dollar grant-issuing machine. It should be a location that collects trash. When government gets involved and has a dump floating debt to fund political favors, that is when a dump leaves its mission.

In New Jersey, the way to get around the public having any say in public debt is to authorize authorities and agencies to have bond writing abilities.

What does a dump have to do with the stage? Well, it recently gave $1 million to the Levoy Theatre in Millville. Lauren Van Embden, Lou Magazzu’s runningmate (and now Millville prosecutor), heads the theatre. And with no say from the citizens of Cumberland County, Magazzu was able to funnel the $1 million from the dump to her project. Two months later he gets to blame the poor financial health of the CCIA on the former director and act as though he is cleaning up political corruption.

Bah!

This is on Magazzu. Why should a dump be funding anything? It’s because the freeholders want control of money without our oversight. This is not how government should run. Hold Lou Maggazu accountable.