Thursday, July 08, 2010

Waste And Excess

Hopefully New Jersey taxpayers will be seeing a lot more stories like this one:

N.J. agencies begin disconnecting unused phones after audit exposing $3.2M waste

State Comptroller Matt Boxer's office and Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, who informed the administration of the waste after receiving a tip through her Report New Jersey Government Waste website, are to be commended for identifying the waste and implementing the savings.

Boxer told that, "After years of this system not being closely monitored, we’ve ended up with thousands of (phone) lines that are not being used." One mobile phone was not used but paid for for six years.

One has to wonder how many millions of dollars in waste throughout all levels of government has yet to be identified. This is an indictment of both state government employees and vendors.

The Christie administration and the legislature would be wise to create incentives for employees to eliminate waste and penalties for management personnel under whose watch the waste occurs. Same with vendors. It is unconscionable that the phone companies under state contract billed the taxpayers for services not being used for years. Government contracts should be written such that vendors are liable for for waste that they knew about or should have known about.

It is sad that carrots and sticks are required, but they are.

Unfortunately, we are likely to see more stories like these:

Ex-Keansburg chief to get $154G in unused vacation, sick time and Retiring Keansburg police chief hired for $120,000 manager post

Longtime Keansburg Police Chief Raymond O'Hare retired as chief last week, with a pension of $121,430 per year and was promptly hired as Keansburg Borough Administrator for $120,000 per year. O'Hare also cashed in $154,000 in unused vacation and sick time.

This kind of largess for "public servants" has to stop, no matter a well the "servants" performed over their careers.

Fortunately Governor Christie and the legislature have already started to reform the pension system, but much more needs to be done. And not just with new hires.

The pension system should be liquidated and distributed to those expecting defined benefit pensions. Let the individuals invest the proceeds themselves and save for their retirements like those of us picking up the tab. They should have to adjust their expectations, just as private sector workers and business owners have had to due to Great Recession.

O'Hare hasn't done anything illegal. He, and many many others just worked the system as it was designed for them. It was a bad design and needs to be fixed.

I hope O'Hare does a great job as administrator in Keansburg. That town needs a great deal of improvement.

However, as someone who pays property taxes in Keansburg, I am offended by the generosity of his new salary.

Keansburg has a population of about 11,000 living in 1.1 square miles, according to the 2000 census.

Compare that to Middletown, where according to the same 2000 census,66,237 people live within 41.1 square miles.

Middletown's administrator earns only $12,000 more than Keansburg's new administrator is earning.

It is no wonder that no one has yet to answer the question I first raised two years ago, "Where in NJ is there a better run town than Middletown?"

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