Tag Archives: Sooy

Millville City Commission Work Session, 8 June 2022

Short meeting with nothing much of note. No comments at all from the public.

Commissioner Sooy mentioned he attended a Zoning Board meeting. He stated the Zoning Board has become an advocate for those who are applying for variances. Stated that the Zoning Board criticized the City Commission.

Sooy went on to state that he began reading up on the Zoning Board. He found out there the Zoning Board is permitted to have four alternates. He stated there are only two. He wants another two presumably to better represent this Commission.

Commissioner Sooy is incorrect. There are four alternates to the Zoning Board.

It is the Planning Board that has but two alternates. The Commission indicated it would like to increase the Planning Board to have four as permitted by law.

I have no issue with this other than Mayor Orndorf remarked stated that the reason it was needed is that during summer months lots of projects come. But that reason is moot if the Zoning Board is already full. Just sloppy governing. It is obvious this Commission wants its picks on the boards. That is fine.

Millville City Commission Work Session, 15 March 2022

Commissioner Hewitt spoke about the recent fire. Suggests a protocol for burned out buildings. Should be demolished, but now has a fence around it, which will delay demolition.

The lady at the city responsible for the budget spoke. She will not present the budget until the second meeting of April although the budget is online to be examined now.

She suggests the Commission bank the COLA adjustments, which is permitted, for a rainy day fund. Commissioner Sooy voted against doing this in his previous stint on the Commission, but stated they should do it this year since it can be kept for three years. He made the argument that he wouldn’t want to leave a bank of money for the next Commission. Why? If he is willing to have this rainy day fund, wouldn’t it be equally good for whatever Commission? Silly politics with that reasoning.

Whether it makes sense for any Commission to have this bank of money has yet to be determined.

The budget lady (Marcy?) posited that Commissions should raise taxes yearly. Does that jive with this Commission’s plan for the future of Millville? That is a horrible policy!

Millville received $1.7 million from American Recovery (COVID cash) to help balance budget last year.

Salary and wages, insurance, pension contributions, and utilities all going up next year. Not much wiggle room in those areas.

Commissioner Hewitt laid the groundwork that this budget coming up is not this Commission’s budget. Rather, it is a budget that is being passed on from the previous Commission to them. Politics at play. You have a month from now, four months from when you were seated to have influenced the budget. This is this Commission’s budget.

Commission McQuade lauded the Streets & Roads department for snow removal and potholes filled. He also stated there was a clean-up on the south side of the railroad tracks near the tavern. Have been in touch with the railroad for supplies (bags and stuff) to help with this.

Commissioner Sooy stated there is a resolution to increase CME by $70,000. This is due to a change in “scope services” provided. Will be using them for inspections like at the expansion of 4 Seasons. Seems like a lot of money to ensure drainage is completed properly. Mediation on the Wheaton property is coming up. Meeting with lots of developers This is becoming a refrain heard at every meeting. It is far better to say nothing and then present the pay-off than to string along like this and not have anything to deliver.

Mayor reported that the new city planner began this week.

Public Comment

Betty Monteleone spoke.

  • Commissioner Romanik did not return call for a donation to his church for Ukraine.
  • Four Commissioners and city solicitor are not returning calls.
  • Branch pick-up is too early. Need more pick-ups. No communication regarding this.

Stated Mr. Patel pays $150,000 annually in taxes plus 3% hotel taxes on rooms. This is for the three properties, I believe, on 2nd Street. Quality Inn, another motel, and the senior daycare. Isn’t that the same amount NJMP pays?

Mayor Orndorf threw the city professional under the bus for the communication snafu. She stated she was just copied on e-mails, not addressed directly. This delfection is not good. Stand up and take responsibility.

Roger Patel spoke. He wants to put in sinks and cabinets into 24 rooms at the Quality Inn to qualify for extended stay program. This will permit people to stay and cook a little in the room. Extended stay is several days, not permanent residences. Twenty-five rooms already have these. He wants a construction permit to add these. He spent $10,000 lawyer fees to meet the planning board deadline. Planning board said it was not needed.

The gist of it is that the city is not coming through with what he needs. He’s out money and has $90-100,000 of supplies held up because he can’t get this job done. It sounds like the construction department is a mess. Brock is surprised that the lawyer would not have called him. Business owner just wants to add some cabinets and sinks. The city is making this entirely too difficult for a business to enhance his property.

Closing Remarks

Commissioner McQuade stated Mayor Orndorf and Vice Mayor Sooy are working on bringing businesses to Millville. Be patient and wait a year for the pay-off, he says. Remain in your lane and stop promising.

Millville City Commission Work Session

Commissioner McQuade was absent due to his parents’ funerals. My condolences to him and his family. Losing both parents in a week is beyond my experience.

Courtenay Reece provided a presentation to the Commission regarding the library. Reece has revitalized the library that was in the dumpster before her arrival.

She highlighted the five literacies that the library serves.

  • Reading and Writing (the original literacy)
  • Content/Disciplinary Literacy (content & thinking specific to a discipline)
  • Information Literacy (the traditional library curriculum)
  • Digital Literacy (how and when to use various technologies)
  • Media Literacy (published works—encompasses all other literacies)
  • *Health literacy: snack kits
  • *Financial literay

Millville provides money to the library as well as maintenance. How much money does the city provide the library? Who owns the library?

It was stated that the Gant Room will become an autonomous room. I think this is an outstanding idea. As one who has tried to secure meeting space in this city for a group, there is a severe lack of space. The 8:00 library closing is problematic for many groups, particularly when they shoo you out at 7:45.

Angela Broomhall and Tim Carty discussed the proposed positions that the Commission is making. From what I understand, Brock Russell is being brought in-house as the city solicitor. It was stated that he wouldn’t be doing outside work. Can that be correct? If I wanted a divorce this year, he wouldn’t represent me? What happens to his paralegal at his practice? He’s going to work for $160,000 annually and no benefits? Something doesn’t sound right with this.

Millville will need a paralegal on staff. Broomhall and Carty’s concern is that this places another person on the payroll. Commissioner Sooy thinks this will save money. He has promised to break down the savings/expense after a year.

Carty made a good point about tabling the hiring until a cost analysis can be presented to the public. I am all for transparency. I don’t think the Commission is going to do this, however.

Commissioner Sooy addressed the trash issue. Millville outsourced its trash collection to the ACUA/ That’s Atlantic County. ACUA is having staffing troubles. After the snow trash wasn’t picked up. This is not just Millville. Vineland, for instance, has declared it will not pay ACUA. Sooy is trying to work with ACUA to find a solution. It sounds like he wants to use Millville employees on off times and deduct the money it pays those employees from what is owed to ACUA. This sounds okay. What I am uncertain of is what vehicles would be used. I think he indicated Millville employees would use ACUA vehicles. Would ACUA permit that?

Mayor Orndorf indicated that the invocation/prayer will remain at the beginning of the meetings. Apparently, there was a letter stating it should be abolished. While I would not have an issue if it were abolished, it doesn’t bother me that there is an invocation at the start of the meeting.

Millville’s New City Commission

Counter to many things in my life, I welcome change in government. This evening a new City Commission was seated in the Holly City, including the first female mayor for this town. Tradition has it that the highest vote getter is decided to be mayor, although there is no rule governing that. Congratulations to the commissioners!

  • Lisa M. Orndorf, Mayor: Director of Public Affairs
  • Joseph Sooy, Vice Mayor: Director of Revenue & Finance
  • Benjamin J. Romanik: Director of Parks & Public Property
  • Charles Kirk Hewitt: Director of Public Safety
  • Robert McQuade: Director of Public Works

McQuade was not initially elected to the Commission. Longtime commisioner/recent freeholder Jim Quinn was. He actually placed fourth in the voting. Quinn decided not to sit on this commissionn (receiving anf filing Quinn’s letter was the first action this Commission took.). Speculation is that since he was alone on the other side, he bowed out. Some might categorize that as quitting. Whatever it is deemed, I am just fine with Quinn on the sidelines. There are no Democrat shills on this commission. I think that is an improvement for the city.

Orndorf presents herself well. She has no political experience, but from what little I gleaned from the meeting, it seems like she has connections. She invoked her faith several times. I’d rather one not lead with that, but I’ll give her a pass at the outset.

Sooy served previously. He was the two-punch to Lynne Porecca Compari’s one-punch. Tied at the hip, they were both voted out in favor of Cooper and Pepitone. That was a mistake for the city’s residents. Sooy is back and will be the vice mayor. It’ll be interesting to see how he operates here. I suspect he will attempt to play operator with how the Commission procedes. Is he up for the task?

Ben Romanik is young and inexperienced. We’ll see what he does.

Kirk Hewitt has been around this town for a while. It seems I met him and he tried to recruit me into the Republican Party some time ago. Yeah, I am not your guy. I am not sure of his talents. Time will tell.

With Quinn not taking hs seat, there is an opening. The Commission probably did the best thing it could do: it reached out to the sixth placed candidate. That is McQuade. McQuade has wanted to be on the Commission for years. Consider me unimpressed. He has spent the last nine years on the Millville Board of Education. Like Cooper, he ran for City Commission while serving on the School Board. Now that he takes the commissioner’s seat, the school board is left with a vacancy. I don’t think that puts one in the best light. His seat is only until November when there will be an election for the remaining two years. This gambit could shuffle McQuade out of office in his attempt to “move up the ladder.”

Brock Russell was retained as the attorney for the city. He has served well over the years and does not seem to be connected politically to any one party (perhaps I am wrong about that. I also think he’s a fine attorney as I have been pleased with his representation of me. 🙂

Lynne Porreca Compari’s husband was approved as part-time city administrator. There’s little money in this, but this is where the political favors are handed out. Interestingly, Brendan Kavanagh, a lawyer entrenched in Democrat politics was also retained by this Commission.

An ordinance on first reading was introduced to repeal the former Commission’s ordinance regarding the sewer treatment plant. According to Sooy, that ordinance had a rate hike involved in it for commercial properties. Sooy does not think that is warranted at this time. I’ll take his word on it as I do not know the particulars; in general, government should collect less from taxpayers/service users.

A few of the items detailed that this Commission wants to address:

  • Demolition of old rescue squad
  • Demolition of Wheaton
  • UEZ money is oming, start a new corporation to oversee that money
  • Re-adopt the industrial commission with some structural changes; power to make decisions

Best to this Commission in helping Millville.

Millville City Commission Candidates Forum

09-04-30 Millville City Commission Candidates Forum

Last evening I attended the Candidates Forum hosted by the Millville Chamber of Commerce. There are 15 candidates vying for the five Commission seats.

The current commissioners are Mayor Quinn, Tim Shannon, Joe Derella, Dave Vanaman, and Jim Parent. Parent is not seeking re-election. Quinn, Derella, and Shannon have been staples on the commission for the last 12 years (Has Shannon been on that long? He may have a term less.). They take great pride in the rejuvenation of High Street, the motorsports park, and Union Lake Crossing. Vanaman is a more recent addition. He is not as part of the team as the others. He has jostled with them over abatements and the noise at the park.

Challengers
Challenging the incumbents are Ian Roberts, Emil Van Hook, Jim Hertig, Charles Flickinger, Joseph Sooy, Dale Finch, Robert Tesoroni, Mike Wydra, Rev. Ennis, Robert McQuade, and Dick Marshall.

Roberts sounds like a politician . . . in the bad way. He has that comforting voice that sounds good until you listen to what he has to say. He stated he loved the question How will you work with your rivals and others outside your assigned department? Only a politician would love that question.

Van Hook has raised the ire of some locals partly because of his involvement with Millville First. He has been part of the Commission in the past, as well as a school board member. The current knock against him is that he is against what the current commissioners are doing, but he has offered nothing that he would do other than roll back abatements. Van Hook pitched a nine-member, walking police group armed with K-9s to patrol the Third Ward. He also discussed how his Commission was responsible for bringing Durand Glass to Millville, without abatements. That is a strong point, although I suspect folks will contend the business climate has changed since then.

Jim Hertig is pretty much a non-candidate for me. His platform is speaking of how senior housing projects are a godsend that should be pursued. I wholeheartedly disagree with that position. Seniors, while being easy on the school system, often are living on fixed incomes. Coming from Cape May, the model Glasstown is using, I can equivocally state that Victorian Towers did not end up as a boon to the local economy. We have the Four Seasons trailer park senior housing development plopped down at Buckshutem and Hogbin. There’s the eyesore on Wheaton Avenue. And the city sold the waterfront property that housed two of my shutterspots to a group that will build senior condos on prime real estate. Recruiting more senior housing isn’t the windfall Millville needs. Hertig also spoke about educating the youth with respect lessons. Feelgood legislation isn’t going to win me over. Finally, when it came time to discuss how he would deal with a $5 million cut, Hertig did not explain what he would do. He just said cuts would need to be made.

Charles Flickinger served Millville eight years as a school board member. He is the former owner of Flick’s Cafe on 2nd Street. I liked that joint. Anyhow, Flickinger seems more into wanting to be involved than having any specific goal to work towards or skill he can offer. He did mention looking at energy savings as a way to deal with a cut in funds, but he did not elaborate and there is no reason to believe he has any unique ability than anyone else to bring about those savings.

Sooy sounds like a Millville First candidate. He spoke against RAD, crime, the noise at the racetrack, and the Levoy Theatre. I did not hear anything horrible from him, but I did not get overwhelming inspiration from him either. He did speak forcibly against eminent domain, noting seizing property for private business is a cardinal no-no. I agree.

Finch has a lot of signs about the city. He appears to be well-organized. He stated he has experience in reorganizing taxes at the municipal level. That is good. He spoke about fighting crime in a manner no one prior to him had; namely, code enforcement goes a long way to cleaning up neighborhoods. I agree. Aggressive enforcement should be at the top of the list of any commissioner.

Tesoroni impressed me at the Millville First forum a couple weeks ago. He was less effective in this venue. He champions the escalating debt using a figure of $60 million. That number was disputed by Derella and Quinn, who put the debt at $47 million, which is about $3 million more than when they came into office a dozen years ago. That does not make the candidate look good. Covering a $5 million cut in funds with looking at consultant fees displays an amateur’s view of the problem. While I am appalled with some of the consultants that have been hired (like the one we did for Wawa), there is not $5 million of consultant fees. Frankly, those fees should be cut regardless of cuts. He did correctly point out that those of us who are complaining about noise at the racetrack are not against the track; we are against the noise. There is a difference.

Wydra is frustrating. He means well, and for that, I respect his candidacy. Unfortunately, “Millville Mike”, who has lived here for 53 years and loves to fish, just doesn’t have the skills for City Commission. Dismiss him.

Rev. Ennis is an interesting candidate. He has the respect of most of the candidates with whom he is running. It sounds as though he has done good things for Millville through his ministry. He is a doer. Unfortunately, politically, he doesn’t seem to have the goods. He spoke of teaching the dysfunctional. I suspect a minister would. That, however, is not the role of the municipal government. He provided no answer to what he would do to a cut in municipal aid. A windfall, however, would find Ennis sending checks to the senior citizens of the town. Grrr . . . There is no political reason to vote for Ennis.

McQuade made it clear that he wants Parent’s empty seat. He praised the current commissioners over and over. He spoke about living downtown and not liking the crime. No one likes the crime in town. Other than that, he seemed not to have a handle on things. He said, “I understand we have a noise problem, but it is an asset.” I understand he didn’t mean the problem was an asset, but that is what he said. He seemed not to take the issue seriously.

Marshall was involved in getting UEZ designation for Millville. He has a business background. He joined the rest of the candidates in most issues, including money for the Levoy Theatre and debt reduction, should there be a windfall given to Millville. He gave a nondescript cuts response to a funding cut.

Incumbents
Vanaman left me disappointed this evening. I have generally liked his positions since he joined the Commission. I really like that there is a counter to the “team”. He spoke of a respect program for the city’s children. That is not what municipal government is supposed to be involved in. He did not have an adequate answer of what he would cut, if needed, only stating what he wouldn’t cut. Vanaman did reiterate his opposition to abatements and reminded the audience that he has challenged the other commissioners on this issue. Further, he noted the noise issue at the racetrack and correctly pointed out neighbors were misled about how loud it would be.

Derella is impressive. I recall liking him the first time I attended a city Commission meeting that I actually introduced myself to him. I rarely do that. He has the facts. His presentation demonstrates why incumbents have an advantage as he has a record to run on. There is a master plan for the waterfront, taxes have stabilized, and ratables are up.

Shannon heads the Parks and Recreation Department. We have been impressed with the events the city has hosted over the years. We would encourage even more. Shannon is personable and really does seem to care for the town, not that the others don’t. Unfortunately, Shannon has not impressed me in either forum leading up to the election. He touted the litany of accomplishments of the Commission. He rightfully gets to share in the glory. He did not speak about what his department has done. Rather, he reminded the audience about “unfinished business”, then he talked about the vacancies at the airport industrial park. That’s a negative and not one that Shannon should be heralding. He also then went off on how Millville needs to become a green city. I note this was just nine days after the city recommended purchases of some Ford 350s. Duplicity at its best.

Mayor Quinn echoed the Commission’s good work. He indicated he was sincere about finding a resolution to the noise problem at the racetrack. He keeps thumping the need to build the ratable base of the city. Quinn was the first candidate to indicate that he would fulfill the Levoy Theatre’s restoration if a windfall came to the city. He spoke about attrition as a way of covering funding cuts. He’s an incumbent and has a handle on the city’s business.

Endorsements
I looked longingly at the candidates before the session ended. I asked myself who would get my vote. Unfortunately, I do not have five definites.

It is easier to list who I can dismiss. Those are: Roberts, Hertig, Flickinger, Wydra, Ennis, and McQuade.

That leaves the following in the running for me: Vanaman, Van Hook, Derella, Shannon, Sooy, Finch, Tesoroni, Quinn, and Marshall.

Vanaman, Van Hook, and Derella are likely. Shannon probably is as well (I just do not like how he is campaigning).

I am not a Quinn fan. I would welcome shaking the Commission up (How there can be consensus on issue after issue, year after year, is beyond me.). Perhaps Van Hook’s election would be enough even if Quinn were to remain. If Tesoroni, Van Hook, and Vanaman were all on the Commssion together, it may be too drastic of an about-face. Sooy, Finch, or Marshall replacing Quinn would probably create a balanced Commission that would address the racetrack noise, re-visit abatements/RAD, but keep growth in the city moving along with the waterfront development. While Quinn sounded believable on the noise issue, he has done nothing to date despite the cacophony of complaints. Since he exudes politician to me, I discount his concern on this.

I am still open for whom I will vote. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way for citizens to learn more about the candidates.