Thursday, May 08, 2014

Ex-delran Official Gets Prison Term

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1986-01-17/news/26054926_1_prison-term-sentencing-fatal-collision

Posted: January 17, 1986

Former Delran Township administrator Robert M. Boyles 3d was sentenced yesterday to a four-year prison term after being convicted of death by auto for a collision that killed a Greek Cypriot college student in April.

Burlington County Superior Court Judge Cornelius P. Sullivan sentenced Boyles in the death of Nicolaos C. Nicolaou, 24. Boyles' car collided with Nicolaou's as the township official drove the wrong way on Route 130. Boyles was on his way home from an afternoon with other Delran officials after they had spent the day visiting bars in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"It's Mr. Boyles' wish not to appeal," said Boyles' attorney, John Wherry, who added that Boyles had expressed a desire to serve his sentence and begin rebuilding his life. Boyles was found guilty of death by auto in November.

Boyles probably will serve about a year of the four-year term, Sullivan said.

"You were a high public official, and this makes you visible," Sullivan said in sentencing Boyles. "It was in connection with your public duties that you were intoxicated."

On April 19, Boyles attended a morning meeting in Trenton with Assemblyman Thomas P. Foy (D., Burlington), Delran Mayor Richard J. Knight, Delran Councilman William L. Smock and township engineer John Gillan. After the meeting, which concluded between noon and 1 p.m., the five men stopped at four bars before splitting up about 7 p.m.

Boyles struck the Toyota that Nicolaou was driving about a mile from Delran's Municipal Building, where he had worked as administrator for more than two years. Nicolaou, a Rutgers University computer-science major, was on his way to meet his fiancee, Dodie Skwara, at her home in Willingboro.

A pathologists' report submitted during the trial indicated that Boyles drank the equivalent of 19 bottles of beer during the hours before the fatal collision. A breath test administered two hours after the accident showed Boyles' blood-alcohol level at 0.16. Drivers in New Jersey are considered legally drunk when the test registers 0.10.

Wherry had asked the judge not to give in to public pressure and impose a harsh sentence on Boyles because he was a public servant.

"For one-half of his life, he has dedicated himself to service in his community," Wherry said. "His life has been ruined by this. It's not just to punish a man because he has devoted his life to public service."

After the sentencing, Wherry said he believed that the four-year term was imposed because Boyles was a "visible public figure."

Prosecutor Gregg Shivers said he was happy with Boyles' four-year prison sentence, which Shivers had requested. "This is not an 18-year-old defendant coming from a fraternity party," Shivers said before the sentencing. ''Imprisonment is necessary for the safety of the public."

The packed courtroom included members of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who attended Boyles' trial in the fall. A tearful Skwara sat next to Mike Papaioannou, who had been Nicolaou's roommate. The two men had grown up in the same village of Pathos in northern Cyprus.

Papaioannou said Nicolaou's family had not recovered from the shock of their eldest son's death. According to Cypriot custom, Nicolaou would have cared for his parents in their old age, Papaioannou said. Now, following another custom, he said, Nicolaou's mother will wear black for the rest of her life.

Boyles, who was suspended from his job after the collision, was replaced as township administrator by Matthew Watkins.

Reached at the Municipal Building after the sentencing, Mayor Knight said: "My sympathies go to Bob and his family and to the family of the man who died."

Boyles, who had also served as an aide to Trenton Mayor Arthur Holland, was convicted of drunken driving in Cumberland County in 1982.


Delran Considers A Ban On Explosives Storage

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1986-02-27/news/26088833_1_storage-explosives-weapons-cache
Posted: February 27, 1986

The Delran Township council last night voted 5-0, with one abstention, to give tentative approval to an ordinance prohibiting the storage of ''destructive devices, explosives and weapons" in storage facilities within the township.

The council is seeking to prevent incidents such as last month's discovery of a weapons cache, including explosives and Soviet-made submachine guns, at a self-storage facility on Route 130. New Jersey State Police discovered the arsenal while investigating leads from a drug arrest made in Winslow Township.

Councilman Richard Ritzie said he abstained from the vote because of concerns that the law, as drafted, could be interpreted too broadly.

"As it stands now, this ordinance includes the house as a storage facility. I will object to that if it does," Ritzie said.

Additional concerns over the legality of the ordinance were raised by township solicitor Tom Foy, who said the ordinance would have to be amended to protect the rights of private citizens, while also ensuring that such an arsenal could not be stored on private property through a loophole in the law.

"From a legal standpoint, there is a very fine line we have to walk. The problem is, if the law defines only public storage facilities, the constitutional question is why we're only picking on public establishments.

"Also, we will have to change the definition of storage facility to protect personal property," Foy said.

Foy said that the ordinance, which calls for up to a $1,000 fine, imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both, was tentative and would not be enacted without public comment and proper revision.

A public hearing and possible final vote are scheduled for March 26.


It's The Year Of The Big Squeeze

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150910202321/http://articles.philly.com/1986-03-02/news/26083319_1_insurance-costs-municipal-budgets-higher-deductibles
Posted: March 02, 1986

In Burlington Township, it has meant that those municipal workers who retire will not be replaced.

In Edgewater Park, it has meant a tougher stance in contract negotiations with unionized employees, including police.

And it has meant that Delran will not be hiring more road work crews; that Mount Holly's badly needed police department expansion will be delayed another year, and that Cinnaminson's new public safety and public works projects will be put on hold.

Throughout Burlington County, as in the rest of the nation, skyrocketing landfill and insurance costs are strangling 1986 municipal budgets, leaving a trail of financially strapped programs, some staff reductions and unprecedented tax increases.

In some municipalities, the numbers are staggering. In Cinnaminson, insurance costs will triple while the township will get only a fifth of the umbrella liability coverage it had last year. In Burlington Township, the cost of dumping trash could go up as much as 228 percent.

"Right now, we're just holding on," said Burlington Township Mayor Joseph D. Foy.

But this it is not just a story of municipal officials struggling to make ends meet. As budget planners put the finishing touches on 1986 spending plans - budgets must be passed by April 22 - municipalities are moving to head off what some officials already are calling a crisis.

Larger communities, such as Medford Township, have turned to self- insurance, joining with other municipalities to cover their insurance needs but agreeing to pay the higher deductibles those policies carry. Others are dipping into carefully guarded budget surpluses to pay the excess costs this year, hoping not to mortgage the future.

Most municipalities, however, simply have no budgetary acrobatics left. For them, the excess costs mean just one thing: raising taxes.

"In the end, there's nothing you can do but pay," said Medford Lakes Councilman William G. Gaffney.

In tiny Delanco Township, administrator Jeff Hatcher said ballooning landfill costs, which will be about four times higher this year, and the steady rise of insurance costs could mean the community's first tax increase in four years.

Hatcher said township officials consider themselves lucky that the outcome has not been worse.

"It's been a series of some tough choices," he said.

Westampton Township will be faced with back-to-back tax increases - 25 percent this year, after more than 30 percent last year - and the township did not add a single new program this year, according to clerk Donna Ryan.

Both landfill and insurance costs will double, and self-insurance is out of the question, she said.

"We don't have enough money to consider it," she said. So, the only relief comes in taxes. When the private Hampton Psychiatric Center is finished next year, that will help, she said.

Medford Lakes also will be raising taxes. But that may not be enough.

In the last six months, community leaders and longtime residents have been debating what many of them considered unthinkable - perhaps unspeakable - just two years ago: the possibility of merging many services, including the police department, with the surrounding Medford Township.

Up until now, the two communities have limited their cooperation to the sharing of equipment. But some people in Medford Lakes have advocated merging the school systems and studying a proposal for making the two towns one municipality - an idea that makes some people in Medford Lakes uneasy. And makes others squirm.

"Oh, we'll survive," said Gaffney. "Medford Lakes won't lose their identity. I can guarantee you that."

Thus, while most communities promised that the shock of doubling and tripling landfill and insurance costs could be absorbed by tax increases without sacrificing services, others were beginning to wonder how long it would be until the problem threatened their very survival.

To help cope with the pressures on their budgets, many municipal officials in South Jersey attended a planning seminar last week in Freehold, Monmouth County, sponsored by the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. Others are venting their frustration in Trenton and Washington, where discussion of reform of the insurance industry and liability law is an annual exercise.

But at this point, municipal officials say the federal and state governments are only making things worse.

Some of the larger municipalities, such as Willingboro Township, are worried about the cumulative effect of the Reagan administration's promise to eliminate federal revenue-sharing and the continued retention by the state of a larger portion of the revenue raised by the gross-receipts tax.

Under the state's Municipal Purposes Tax Assistance Fund, a mechanism of the gross-receipts tax, municipalities last year received $60 million. This year, only $30 million is budgeted for municipalities.

Coupled with runaway insurance and landfill expenses, the loss of that revenue could make this year's painful budget decisions next year's nightmares, according to several local officials.

"The problem we've really had is the erosion of state aid," said Willingboro manager John D. Tegley.

In addition, Tegley said, he is already braced for higher insurance premiums in the spring. They tripled last year.

"We'll be back out in the insurance market in April and May," he said. ''We've left $40,000 for more increases." After that, he said, no one is predicting the future.

It is precisely the intangible nature of this year's budget mess that has municipal officials wondering out loud. Budget planners said it was relatively easy to sell tax increases to voters when they could see the results. A new police car, new street lights, an extra day of garbage pick-up, a refurbished baseball diamond could justify a tax hike, they said.

But the current demand for tax dollars, several officials said, is mired in two parts of the budget that municipalities have taken for granted for years. For even though L&D Landfill is asking state regulators for a five-fold increase in its fees, garbage will still be collected. And when a municipality's insurance coverage is discontinued, no one notices until there is a lawsuit.

"We've been through this before with utility costs and fuel oil," said Medford Township manager Richard W. Deaney. "But it's more an unidentified loss of service this time. You try not to let it have an impact on services, but, over the years, you're going to see diminishing services. And our tax rate is going up more than we would like it."

*

In Medford Lakes, Bette Shinske has her hands full. As acting borough manager, she has replaced John A. Weaver Jr., a man who for 22 years ran things quietly and capably in this tiny borough of about 5,500 people. But Weaver, who retired Dec. 31, never faced anything like this:

* Municipal liability insurance going from $79,977 in 1985 to $120,000 budgeted for 1986, and

* Trash disposal costs going from $55,444 last year to $179,000 in 1986, if the state Board of Public Utilities approves a 304 percent increase requested by the L&D Landfill that would raise fees to $27.90 from $6.90 for each cubic yard of trash dumped.

"It's a beaut of a budget," said Shinske, who is receiving some community-spirited assistance from Weaver. "But every municipality is faced with this. It's tragic."

In the summer, the New Hampshire Insurance Co., which carried Medford Lakes' liability insurance for more than two years, canceled the coverage without giving a reason. After losing a court battle with the company, the borough returned to its previous insurer, Insurance Company of North America, but not without a huge increase in premiums and the exclusion of pollution coverage.

Gaffney, a borough councilman and an insurance underwriter, said the cancellation and the subsequent exclusion of pollution coverage may be linked to the borough's court fight with neighboring Medford several years ago. Medford Lakes' sewer discharge, high in nitrates, was causing excessive green algae in Birchwood Lakes in Medford.

Arthur Pletz, a branch manager for New Hampshire Insurance, said in a telephone interview Thursday that all company contracts were confidential and ''it's certainly not something I can discuss over the phone."

In an out-of-court settlement, Gaffney said, Medford Township was paid $50,000 and $45,000 was paid for attorneys' fees. The entire bill was footed by the Insurance Company of North America, he said. It is possible that New Hampshire Insurance knew about that settlement when it decided to cancel Medford Lakes' policy, he said.

Through the fight to keep the borough insured, Gaffney said, he made several appeals to state regulators, but he said he believed that he was snubbed.

"We got no help from anyone," he said. "The bottom line was the hell with Medford Lakes. Work it out on your own."

Medford Lakes' insurance problems illustrate an issue facing municipalities across the state and the nation.

According to Harvey Seymour, editor of the Insurance Information Institute's newsletter in New York City, municipal insurance in 1985 became one of nine of the worst insurance policies for commercial companies to write. The nine are: pollution risks, liquor liability, day-care centers, medical malpractice, excess liability coverage ($50 million and up), asbestos removal from schools, commercial fishing boats, commercial trucking and municipal liability.

As the list grows, the problem with getting adequate insurance is attracting the attention of Congress. Insurance costs, at $300 billion each year, now make up the third-largest category of expense for Americans, trailing only food and housing costs and exceeding personal income taxes and health care costs.

Last month, the House subcommittee on commerce, transportation and tourism, which oversees the insurance industry and is chaired by U.S. Rep. James J. Florio (D., N.J.), held hearings in Washington on the burgeoning insurance crisis.

According to testimony given by the National League of Cities, the problem is two-fold: Insurance companies have sold too many high-risk policies as a way of raising money for investments, a practice known as cash-flow underwriting, and there have been an unusually high number of liability lawsuits.

The majority of civil lawsuits are filed in state courts. Between 1978 and 1983, a record 12 million cases were filed in the United States, according to the Insurance Information Institute. From 1940 to 1982, civil lawsuits in federal courts increased almost sixfold, from 35,000 to 206,000. In 1984, one private civil lawsuit was filed for every 15 Americans. The number of lawsuits filed against public officials has doubled since 1982.

The size of the damage awards are also up. In 1962, there was only one municipal liability case in the nation in which a jury awarded $1 million. In 1983, there were 360 cases involving jury awards of that amount, 13 times as many as in 1975. The current average award against U.S. cities jumped from $230,000 in 1982 to $2 million in 1985.

In Delran, where insurance costs will double this year, officials are bracing for the outcome of a claim made by the family of a 24-year-old college student who was killed in the spring. The student was killed when his car was hit by a town-owned Ford LTD driven by township administrator Robert M. Boyles 3d, who was convicted this year of death by auto and sentenced to a four-year prison term.

But until the claim by the victim's family has been resolved, either in court or out, Mayor Richard J. Knight said he does not know what effect it will have on the town's insurance costs.

According to data supplied by the insurance industry to the state insurance commissioner, the increase in revenue from premiums on commercial multi-peril insurance, which includes municipal liability, is not keeping pace with the money companies are paying out in claims.

In 1982, premiums totaled $333 million and claims totaled $205 million. In 1983, premiums were $343 million and claims were $229 million. In 1984, premiums rose to $398 million, and claims jumped to $325 million.

Many lawmakers believe that much of the insurance industry's problem is self-inflicted.

Florio said, "While our court system is not beyond improvement, I don't think anyone seriously disputes that the problem has multiple causes, including the practices of the insurance industry itself."

One of those practices is called cash-flow underwriting.

In the early 1980s, encouraged by high interest rates, say congressional subcommittee aides, insurers relied on investment income, rather than on earnings from underwriting, for positive year-end performances. To get cash to invest, they lowered premiums to attract new business, even though those premiums could not justify the risks.

But when interest rates dropped in recent years, cash-flow underwriting crumbled.

From the losses of both claims and cash-flow underwriting, the industry has taken a number of steps to minimize the damage, including restricting new business, reducing coverage (particularly for environmental and long-range risks), establishing higher deductibles, boosting premiums, and reducing the scope, amount and duration of coverage, the aides say.

But as the industry has moved to minimize its losses, municipalities and state regulators have scrambled for coverage.

Insurance needs for municipalities include property, personal injury, vehicle insurance for both public works and the police department, and insurance to cover disasters, known as excess insurance.

As of today, about 30 percent of the state's 567 municipalities have no excess liability coverage, and most that do have it have inadequate levels of coverage, according to William Dressel, executive director of the league of municipalities.

The state is debating several options to ease the problem. Gov. Kean already has exempted insurance from the 5 percent cap on the annual growth of municipal budgets. This week, the Legislature is expected to hear two proposals: One would cap municipal liability awards at $500,000 per person and $1 million per occurrence, a proposal likely to raise opposition from the state's legal community, and the other would institute a state insurance pool, joined by municipalities at reduced premiums, to cover all claims over $500,000.

But in the meantime, municipalities are feeling the crunch. And Edgewater Park Mayor John Snively does not like it one bit.

Snively is in the middle of salary negotiations with his 13-member police force, six office workers and three crossing guards, all of whom have been working without a contract since December.

The mayor said he has been put into the unseemly position of having to place insurance and landfill costs ahead of manpower needs. And how, he has been asking himself lately, does he sell that to the township?

"You're always careful on the negotiations of a contract," he said. "But now you're put into a position where you have to be stingy on a contract."

Township officials, he said, decided not to cut services but would have liked to add more money to a recreation field renovation project. No way, said the mayor. Not this year.


Taking A Look At Communities' Proposed Budgets

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1986-03-02/news/26084128_1_municipal-budgets-state-mandated-cap-municipal-officials
Posted: March 02, 1986

From Cinnaminson to Tabernacle and from Burlington to Shamong, the tune is the same. Municipal officials are singing the insurance-costs-too-much blues.

In virtually every municipality in Burlington County, skyrocketing insurance rates are undermining municipal budgets and attempts at financial planning, leaving officials wondering what will happen next.

Moreover, many municipalities are finding that while costs are increasing, insurance protection is decreasing.

"You pay more for less, that's the crazy thing about it," said Cinnaminson administrator John Ostrowski.

Cinnaminson is paying about $110,000 more for insurance this year and losing $4 million in liability protection, a drop from $5 million to $1 million.

"That's not a lot for a township today," said Ostrowski.

Some municipalities have turned to self-insurance. Medford Township adopted the program last year.

Delran is studying the idea now. And Cinnaminson also is considering it.

"The interest is rising now," said Cinnaminson Deputy Mayor M. Madeleine Koszyk.

Further complicating the insurance-cost crunch have been escalating landfill costs and plummeting federal revenue-sharing allotments.

Most municipal officials in Burlington County said all those factors have made 1986 a very difficult year.

And, added Ostrowski, "It's going to get worse, it's not going to get better."

Here is a community-by-community breakdown of what is happening with municipal budgets:

BEVERLY. Anticipated pay raises are enough to push Beverly's budget over the state-mandated cap of a 5 percent increase in spending, leaving city officials saying that they will have to put the budget to a referendum.

Mayor Frank Costello said that an $18,000 increase in police salaries and a $13,000 increase in part-time employees' salaries have pushed the city over the limit, which is about $28,000.

"What we're going to do at the next meeting is determine whether we can cut down any of the areas to get under the cap," Costello said. "If not, we're going to request a referendum."

The council will meet later this month to try to reduce spending.

Compounding the problem is an increase in landfill costs from $63,000 last year to $83,000 and an increase in insurance rates from $51,500 to $76,000.

Beverly has taken budgets to the voters twice before, and the budgets failed both times, requiring the City Council to cut the budgets to get them under the cap.

BURLINGTON CITY. In Burlington City, officials plan to keep the budget low enough so that no local property tax is imposed, following a tradition dating to when the city was founded.

About 90 percent of the city's budget is financed with money from the state's gross-receipts tax on Public Service Electric & Gas Co.'s generating station on the city's riverbank.

But while officials do not plan to implement a property tax, that does not mean that costs are not escalating.

Mayor Herman Costello said that he anticipated an increase from the 1985 $6.02 million budget but that he was not sure how much because estimates for 1986 expenses were still being tabulated.

The city already knows that landfill costs are expected to increase from $165,000 last year to $184,000 this year. Insurance premiums may actually decrease from $563,000 to $560,000.

But the decrease is misleading.

Burlington City was hit last year with the rising insurance rates that many municipalities are facing this year. Last year, the city's premiums had increased to $563,000 from $400,000.

BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP. In the topsy-turvy world of insurance rates, municipal managers have been reeling from the skyrocketing costs. When Burlington Township administrator Kevin McLernon was asked if enough money had been budgeted for insurance in 1986, he answered, "We hope so."

Burlington is anticipating a 23 percent increase in insurance costs from $592,850 to $729,910.

That is the largest dollar increase in the budget, which is increasing from $6.81 million to $7.45 million.

But that is not all: Landfill costs are expected to increase 228 percent, from $50,000 to $194,000.

Despite all this, the township's tax rate will actually decrease one cent from 22 cents per $100 of assessed property value because of a $12 million increase in ratables, said Mayor Joseph Foy.

CINNAMINSON. In Cinnaminson, township leaders are getting "less bang for their buck."

Insurance coverage costs more, and Cinnaminson is getting less protection, said administrator John Ostrowski.

Last year, the township paid $211,000 in insurance premiums for $5 million in liability protection. This year, premiums are expected to cost $331,371, Ostrowski said, and the protection will be for only $1 million.

Moreover, Cinnaminson used to receive about $20,000 back from its insurance carrier each year from investments on some of the premiums that the township paid, Ostrowski said. This year, the insurance company will keep that money.

Last year, Cinnaminson's budget was $3.49 million. This year's budget, introduced last week, would be $3.6 million, with the bulk of the increase for insurance premiums. A four-cent hike in the tax rate has been proposed, which would raise the rate to 16 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The insurance premiums have been exempted from the budget cap placed on municipalities this year.

"That's a godsend," Ostrowski said. "Without this, this year I don't think the town could have balanced a budget."

DELANCO. In Delanco, township officials are expecting a tax increase of 14 cents per $100 of assessed property value to help finance the proposed $2.25 million budget.

The tax rate would be $1.98 for each $100.

The proposed budget is $208,000 more than the 1985 budget.

A good chunk of the increase is for landfill costs, which have risen from $2.40 per cubic yards to $9.75. For Delanco, which generates 8,200 cubic yards of trash annually, that means an increase from $19,680 to $79,950.

Another big increase is in insurance rates, which have jumped about $22,000 from last year's premium of $105,752.

DELRAN. Landfill rates and insurance premiums have jolted the Delran budget. With those expenses exempt from the state-mandated cap, however, the overall budget will stay under the cap, said Mayor Richard Knight.

Rates at the L&D Landfill are expected to increase by 37 percent under a renegotiated contract, to $319,000 in 1986. And that is only an estimate. The township's contract with L&D expires in June, and township officials said they may have to use an emergency appropriation to meet the new rates when they come up.

Delran's insurance costs have risen from $185,993 to $241,423. Knight said he was so worried about the rising costs that he wants Delran to consider self-insurance. Under that plan, the township, perhaps joining with several others, would build up a reserve pool of money and be responsible for its own liabilities.

Adding to these expenses is another dilemma: State aid from the municipal- purpose tax was cut by $40,000, down to only $20,000 for 1986.

With no end to this in sight, Knight said he is keeping a wary eye on 1987.

"Suffice to say," he said in his annual budget address, "that 1987 will be a tough budget year."

EASTAMPTON. As with so many other communities, Eastampton is facing increases in trash disposal and insurance costs. Most of the bulk of the budget will be for those expenses.

Insurance will cost $85,472 in 1986. That is an increase of $17,472 over last year and $31,897 over 1984. "We're having a hard time," said Mayor Marie Potter. She said several insurance firms used to seek the town's business, but now Eastampton is lucky to get a single company interested.

Added to those increases are escalating landfill costs. In 1986, $109,170 is budgeted for the landfill. Last year, it was $85,500. In 1984, it was only $61,000.

Potter said that a 3-cent tax increase was proposed for this year. That would make the rate 31 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Last year, the town underwent a re-evaluation, which raised property values.

EDGEWATER PARK. In the budget that Edgewater Park officials have proposed for this year, rising insurance and landfill costs make up the bulk of the $168,132 increase.

The 1986 budget of $2,183,618 is expected to be approved later this month. It requires a tax increase of 13 cents, making the rate 63 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The township's costs for trash disposal have doubled, with $220,652 appropriated for this year.

When the budget was being prepared, Edgewater Park officials expected their insurance costs to rise from $68,000 to $105,000. Since the budget was completed, however, the insurance bills have come in at $115,000.

That is not all.

On Feb. 1, the township's insurance carrier refused to renew Edgewater Park's "umbrella" insurance policy, which provided protection from large liability claims.

"We have our agent looking everywhere to get us an umbrella policy," said township administrator D. Robert Heal.

HAINESPORT. Hainesport's contract with Interstate Waste Removal Inc. in Trenton, the township's trash hauler, ran out last month, and municipal officials have budgeted $38,659 for the service for this year.

They also expect insurance rates to nearly double, from $58,989 to $100,880.

A final budget for 1986 has not been introduced.

LUMBERTON. In Lumberton, officials are close-mouthed about the budget, and understandably so. They likely will leave their single-digit, 9-cent property tax behind forever, said Mayor Donald Bryan.

Officials plan to introduce the budget tomorrow.

Even with last year's $2.1 million budget - an 8 percent increase over 1984 - township officials managed to keep the tax rate at 9 cents.

The township is struggling with insurance costs, little surplus money, less-than-expected revenues because of a postponed residential development and some other miscellaneous, yet expensive, items such as new fire department suits and a planner to work with the state affordable housing council.

MEDFORD LAKES. Usually, in most communities, the big expense is paying employees more and buying new equipment. For Medford Lakes, like so many other municipalities this year, those concerns are being talked about in the past tense.

"Our main problem is not salaries or equipment, it's landfills and insurance," said Councilman William G. Gaffney.

Last year, the borough's budget was $1.5 million. The 1986 budget is still being prepared, but Medford Lakes is already anticipating big increases in those two areas.

Insurance costs are expected to increase from $80,000 to $120,000. Landfill costs will probably rise by $100,000 - from $40,000 to $140,000.

The increases mean that Medford Lakes' plans to replace street signs is on hold now, Gaffney said. He said the borough's road resurfacing program would have to be cut back.

"We'll survive," Gaffney said. "But it's going to cost the taxpayers."

MEDFORD TOWNSHIP. Insurance got to be so expensive in Medford that the township started insuring itself.

Last year, the township paid about $80,000 for workers' compensation and general liability protection into an insurance trust account. Under the self- insurance plan, Medford has $1 million protection, with a $40,000 deductible. The township is not sure how much it will have to pay for self- insurance this year.

While Medford is protecting itself from escalating insurance rates, the township is still facing landfill increases.

The landfill fees would increase about a quarter of a million dollars, from $523,792 last year to a projected $763,494.

The proposed total budget for this year is $8.3 million, more than $1 million over 1985. A 4-cent tax increase is anticipated, which would more than double the current rate of 3.835 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

MOUNT HOLLY. A $70,000 jump in insurance premiums has led township officials to re-think their spending plans this year.

The premiums have increased from $161,456 to $230,084.

While Mayor James B. Smith said he did not anticipate any cut in township services to keep overall costs down, he said the increases have made township officials keep a tight hold on purse strings on some small items.

For example, he said, Mount Holly will only spend $4,000 for tree removal and maintenance instead of the $5,000 that the township had wanted to spend.

"It's mostly these small items that are annoying items to residents that get shortchanged," Smith said.

But the high insurance costs also mean that the township cannot expand some services it wants to. The township would like to hire more police officers, for example, but does not have the money to do it.

The overall budget proposed in Mount Holly this year is $3.4 million, an increase of $300,000 over last year's budget. Township administrator Barry Larson said a tax increase was not anticipated.

NEW HANOVER. Officials in New Hanover Township are uncertain how much their insurance premiums will increase when the policies become due in August.

Township administrator James Nash has projected about a 25 percent increase for the premiums in the proposed $1.1 million budget, from $40,000 to $50,000. Nash also said that landfill costs would probably increase 40 percent, from $25,000 to $35,000.

Despite the rising costs, Nash said no tax increase is expected. Most property values in the rural township increased substantially during a recent re-evaluation. Nash anticipates the additional revenues from that alone at more than $3 million.

PALMYRA. In Palmyra, borough administrator Rudolph Creyaufmiller said he is anticipating an increase of $1,000 a month in landfill costs. The tentative borough budget calls for $15,000 for the landfill, compared with $3,000 in 1985.

"They're astronomical," Creyaufmiller said of the landfill expenses, a sentiment echoed by many other municipal officials.

But the even-bigger expense in Palmrya has been insurance.

In 1985, Palmyra spent $101,000 for $500,000 in basic liability coverage and $1 million in "umbrella coverage," which covered liability beyond the basic coverage.

This year, however, that same coverage would cost $141,000, Creyaufmiller said. So township officials have opted to buy only $1 million in basic liability coverage and drop the "umbrella" coverage. And that will still cost $126,000.

"It was the lesser of two evils," Creyaufmiller said.

While the final budget for 1986 has not been completed, he predicted that a tax increase would be needed to cover the rising costs, but he would not say how much.

PEMBERTON BOROUGH. Borough officials anticipate a 9-cent increase in the current tax rate of $2.59 per $100 of assessed property value to help pay for a $399,600 budget in 1986, according to Ed Kaelin, the borough clerk. He said insurance costs were expected to double this year but was unable to provide estimates.

PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP. Township officials said they were expecting about a 20 percent increase in insurance costs in Pemberton Township, with premiums in 1986 costing $505,840. Further budget information will not be available until this week. The budget is to be introduced on March 14.

RIVERSIDE. Like so many other communities, Riverside's skyrocketing insurance premiums and landfill rates have affected spending in other areas of the 1986 budget.

Most of the $130,800 increase in the budget is for insurance costs that have risen by $53,320 to $123,329 this year and for landfill costs, which have risen by $27,090 to $88,000.

All those increases mean that Riverside will not be spending what it would like in areas such as recreation, public works and the police department.

Township administrator William Ruehmling describes the spending plans for those areas as only "reasonable increases."

The total $2,079,600 budget for 1986 will require a 3-cent tax hike, raising the rate to 30.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

RIVERTON. The budget is still being prepared in Riverton, but borough officials already know what so many other municipalities are finding out: Landfill rates and insurance premiums are wreaking havoc with their spending plans.

Council finance committee chairwoman Anna Cannon said the borough was planning an increase of about 40 percent for insurance premiums, from $39,300 last year to $55,000 in 1986.

Landfill expenses at L&D Landfill, where the borough sends its trash, also are expected to rise because the landfill's owners are asking the state to approve a large rate hike.

While those large increases are exempt from the cap placed on municipal budgets, they still have to be paid.

"The cap is an artificial thing," said Riverton Mayor David Styer. "If an amount has to be spent, it's going to come out of the taxpayer's dollar."

SHAMONG. Shamong is one of the half-dozen communities in Burlington County in which residents pay no local property taxes.

Most of the township's budget is financed through surplus money in the township coffers. Another large chunk of money comes from state taxes on utility companies, a portion of which is turned over to municipalities. And still more money is generated by investments of township savings.

Shamong keeps its budget low by having only two full-time employees, no police department, few streetlights and few other municipal services.

But while the township does all it can to keep expenses down, it cannot control rising insurance and landfill costs.

Mayor Fred Ott said those escalating costs were worrying Shamong officials, who felt hopeless because there was little they could do to keep the lid on them.

Shamong is projecting a 30 percent increase in insurance rates, from $23,000 last year to $30,000 in 1986.

While that appears modest compared with some municipalities, it is sizable considering that Shamong's overall budget proposed for 1986 is only $688,339. That is up about $150,000 over last year.

Still, Shamong is more fortunate than many communities in that the bulk of its increase is not for the uncontrollable budget items such as insurance, but for a new municipal garage and road work.

SOUTHAMPTON. Like Shamong, Southampton does not have a local property tax.

And because of cuts in spending in some areas, township officials do not plan any increase in spending in 1986. They have proposed a $2.06 million budget, most of which would be financed by surplus money built up by investments.

Unlike many communities, Southampton anticipates only a modest increase in insurance costs, from $63,000 to $65,000.

Although landfill costs are increasing, the township has made several cuts in spending.

SPRINGFIELD. The 12 percent increase in the proposed Springfield Township budget for 1986 is necessary because of higher insurance costs and trash removal fees, officials said.

The tentative $909,428 spending plan would increase the local tax rate by 16 cents to 29 cents - more than double the 1985 rate.

Township Committeeman Martin Poinsett said trash removal costs have more than doubled, from $55,000 to $100,000.

TABERNACLE. Most of the increase in the Tabernacle budget this year will be because of increased insurance premiums, said township treasurer Lorraine Schmierer.

Insurance premiums have increased more than 30 percent, from $73,691 to $99,000.

The overall budget increased from $1,463,157 last year to $1,485,361 in 1986. The proposed budget will require a 3-cent tax increase, raising the local property tax rate to 16 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

WESTAMPTON. The Westampton Township Committee has just introduced a $1.9 million budget, up from $1.6 million in 1985.

The biggest increases come from insurance costs, which have risen from $35,000 to $78,000, and from trash-disposal costs, which have doubled to $160,000.

The budget, as proposed, would require a 9.5-cent tax increase, raising the rate to 50 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

But township officials say the tax hike is necessary and that the budget is as tight as it can get.

"There is just no way to we can cut anything else," said Mayor Marilyn Rand.

WILLINGBORO. The Willingboro Township Council still is working on a $10.05 million budget for 1986, up from $9.31 million in 1985.

It is the first year for the budget to top $10 million in Burlington County's largest community.

As now planned, the budget would require an 11-cent tax increase; the current tax rate is 74.25 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

The biggest increases follow the strain of so many communities. Insurance costs are expected to rise from $302,421 to $388,340. Landfill costs also are escalating from $1.019 million to $1.165 million.

Willingboro also is planning to beef up its police department by adding three or four more patrol officers.

The township also plans to add personnel to the library and recreation department, requiring a $176,000 budget increase.

About $4.6 million of the budget is expected to be raised from property taxes. The remainder will come from various licenses, fees and state and federal aid.

WOODLAND. The 1986 Woodland Township budget is still being prepared. Mayor John Bowker said that he anticipated the usual increase in expenses this year with insurance premiums and electric rates each rising about 15 percent.

He said landfill costs would probably double to $40,000 in 1986.

WRIGHTSTOWN. Although Wrighstown's budget would increase only $2,000 this year, from $339,000 to $341,000, the amount needed to be raised by taxation would be increased.

That increase is from $45,300 to $62,200.

"The taxes will go up this year," said borough auditor Ralph Dreby. ''Some of that is obviously due to the fact that federal revenue sharing is down, and the town did not have as much surplus this year as last, so the amount to be raised by taxes has actually increased."

The local tax rate is expected to go from 24.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value to 33 cents.

Wrightstown also is facing increases in insurance and landfill costs.


Driven By High Premiums, Towns View Self-insurance

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1986-03-19/news/26083745_1_claims-history-insurance-program-medford
Posted: March 19, 1986

While two dozen Burlington County communities contemplate insuring themselves to stave off escalating premiums, one township has begun a self- insurance program and another has begun an active study of a similar plan.

Medford began insuring itself for almost everything, from vehicles to liability (fire protection is the only exception), when the township discovered last year that its liability protection was not going to be renewed.

"It was cost-effective," township manager Richard Deaney said of the self-insurance. "But we really didn't have a renewal option." In effect, Medford had no choice but to insure itself.

Many municipalities, such as Burlington City, are finding themselves in similar positions. Premiums are escalating, leading some communities to make cutbacks in other areas of spending to hold down their budgets.

In Burlington City, premiums are expected to be about $560,000 this year. In Delran, costs for insurance will be $241,423, up from $185,993 last year.

And municipal officials have decided enough is enough.

"What we're asking you to do is to join together with Delran in the forming of a (self-insurance) program," Delran Mayor Richard Knight told municipal representatives at a meeting last week. The invitation got a friendly reception, and most of the communities are beginning to consider joining a pool.

In such a group plan, the communities would contribute annually to a fund that would be used to pay claims, with the reserve carried over into following years. A liability policy for large claims would be purchased with the group's money, but the plan calls for the reserves to build up and eventually eliminate the need for the policy.

Medford has not entered into a pool with other communities, instead working with a company that specializes in self-insurance policies. Deaney said he would want to know more about the claims history of municipalities entering a group plan before he would allow Medford to join. In effect, the communities would be forming their own insurance company, and he said he would not want Medford to assume the burden of a township or borough that had a record of high claims filed against it.

Most of the municipal officials considering the pool said at last week's meeting that they wanted to study their own histories before entering any group insurance plan.

Burlington City Mayor Herman Costello said he favored such a group plan.

"I've been supporting piggy-back insurance for a long time," Costello said. "It's been proven you can save money."

A consultant now is reviewing the insurance history of his city, which has some of the highest insurance costs in Burlington County.

The high costs are the result of the city including its water and sewer system under one insurance policy and because of a high number of workmen's compensation claims against Burlington City in 1983 and 1984, said Doug Ayrer, city treasurer.

"If we don't save money on (self-insurance), I'll be a surprised man," Costello said.

Other communities have experienced savings with self-insurance, but Medford's Deaney said it was too early to tell if that would be the case with his township.

So far, claims have been less than costs, but Deaney said he was worried about a high claim against the town draining their finances. A large fund, accumulated over several years of savings, is required to ensure that a community is not bankrupted by a staggering claim.

Medford's fund, having just begun, is nowhere near where the township wants it to be, Deaney said.

Moreover, Deaney said, he is not so sure he likes self-insurance and the administration of a business separate from running a municipal government.

"We don't want to be in the insurance business," he said.

But with rates not likely to be going down soon, he said, it is a business he may have to get used to.


Voters To Select Mayors And Councils Today

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150912065523/http://articles.philly.com/1986-05-13/news/26049758_1_sharpe-james-newark-school-board-council-members
Posted: May 13, 1986

Voters from more than 30 New Jersey municipalities, including some of the state's largest cities, will go to the polls today to select mayors and council members in nonpartisan elections.

In Atlantic City, Mayor James L. Usry faces stiff opposition in a bid to retain his seat, which he wrestled from Mayor Michael J. Matthews in a 1984 recall election. In Newark, the state's largest city, Mayor Kenneth A. Gibson is battling three other hopefuls in an attempt to win an unprecedented fifth term.

In Camden County, a former political friend has turned foe in an attempt to unseat Ann Mullen as mayor of Gloucester Township, a position she has held under two forms of government since 1979.

And in Burlington County, voters will select an entire township council in Mount Holly and three council members in Medford Lakes. Three incumbent councilmen are running unopposed for three seats in Delran.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and election officials expect voter turnout to vary widely from town to town.

In cities where mayoral candidates fail to gain a simple majority, 50 percent plus one vote, the two top contenders will be entered in a runoff election on June 10.

Usry's strategists have said a runoff is likely in Atlantic City, where Usry no longer enjoys the solid backing of a black community that propelled him to office two years ago.

Two of his former black supporters - Bernard Fulton, his campaign manager in 1982, and City Councilman Harold Mossee - are siphoning off votes and jeopardizing what was once considered an almost certain re-election.

With the three vying for the black vote, white Assemblywoman Dolores Cooper (R., Atlantic) has emerged as a strong competitor for the office.

In Newark, Gibson has been criticized by opponent Sharpe James, a former political ally who has been on the Newark City Council since Gibson became mayor 16 years ago.

Gibson also is opposed by the Rev. Oliver Brown, a Presbyterian pastor and member of the Newark school board, and Dennis Knight, a schoolteacher in his first political campaign.

James has attacked Gibson's record on crime and redevelopment, calling for more police officers in the streets of Newark and more concentration on urban- renewal projects outside the center city and business district.

Gibson counters with arguments that he has turned Newark from a racially divided, blighted, financially unstable city into a unified, rebuilding municipality with a balanced budget.

In recent years, Gloucester Township's Mullen has battled, sometimes bitterly, with former supporters who had helped her orchestrate a stunning upset in 1979, when she and three other underdogs unseated a council majority controlled by then-Democratic political boss James Joyce.

This year, Frank Senatore, a former chief of detectives for Camden County, is trying to defeat Mullen, whom he helped to elect in 1979.

Senatore, 61, who has run unsuccessfully for the council and state Assembly, said he resigned in 1979 from two volunteer positions in Mullen's administration because the departments in which he served were marred by sloppy record-keeping and mismanagement.

Mullen said he resigned because he alienated township employees with his desire to "take over" and order people around.

Each candidate heads a ticket of three candidates for the three council seats up for grabs.

Mullen leads the "Good Government" ticket, which consists of three incumbent councilmen: David Carlamere, a lawyer; Aaron Alexander, retired from the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and George Humes, a service superviser for Arbor Handling Services Inc. in Willow Grove.

Senatore is spearheading the "It's Time for a Change" slate, which consists of council candidates Duane Graffius, a self-employed data-processing consultant; Barbara Lazzaro, a part-time legal secretary, and Joseph Tortoreto, a police officer in Haddon Township.

Although the election is officially nonpartisan, Mullen's ticket has been endorsed by the local Democratic organization, and Senatore's ticket has received the backing of local Republicans.

Similarly, in Mount Holly's election, 10 of the 11 council candidates are at least loosely affiliated with a major political party.

Mayor James B. Smith and his running mates - Fred King, Jerome Sweeney, Angela Davenport and Eric Johnson - are trying to maintain the stronghold Democrats have enjoyed on the township council since they ousted a well- entrenched Republican administration four years ago.

They are opposed by Republican-backed candidates John S. Madden, Eugene Stafford, Jose Sosa, Lauri Sheppard and Raymond Hoagland. The Rev. Kent Pipes is the only real nonpartisan candidate in the election, in which the five top vote-getters will win a council seat.

In Medford Lakes, four candidates - Mayor John P. Gaitens, Councilwoman Michael Levinsky, R. Stanley DuBrul and Joseph Maggelet - are vying for three seats on the council.

Some of the state's major cities with mayors up for re-election today include Trenton, where Arthur Holland has been mayor for 23 of the last 27 years and is challenged solely by Theophilus Baker, a high school teacher who has never before run for office; Paterson, where mayor and state Sen. Frank Graves faces two council members, Marilee Jackson and Richard Fortino, and Bayonne, where incumbent Dennis Collins is opposed by Councilman Richard Rutkowski.


Smith Slate Falls In Mt. Holly Vote

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20151222151805/http://articles.philly.com/1986-05-14/news/26050935_1_top-vote-getter-final-vote-smith-slate
Posted: May 14, 1986

After one term in office, the Mount Holly Township Council led by Mayor James B. Smith was swept out of office yesterday by a ratio of almost 3 to 1.

Although officially nonpartisan, the election was clearly a landslide victory for the predominantly Republican slate led by John Madden, who received 1,441 votes, compared with Smith's 576.

The top vote-getter on Smith's Democratic slate, Deputy Mayor Fred King, received only 585 votes, while the low person on Madden's ticket, Jose S. Sosa, got 1,382.

"The results are difficult to believe," Smith said last night. "It's totally incomprehensible that we could lose by that type of margin."

Madden said the results showed that the voters wanted Mount Holly ''governed as a council, not as a one-man show."

During the campaign, Madden had said that Smith assumed more authority than called for by the township's "weak mayor" form of government, in which voters elect a council, which then chooses a mayor.

Four years ago, Smith achieved a similar sweep when he upset the entrenched administration of Joseph D. Weber, although the results in that election were closer. In that race, Smith polled 1,502 votes, Weber 977.

A total of 2,126 ballots were cast yesterday, less than half of the township's 4,900 registered voters. Voters were asked to vote for five of the 11 candidates on the ballot: five on Smith's slate, five on Madden's and independent Kent R. Pipes, who finished last.

The final vote totals were: Eugene Stafford, 1,618 votes; Raymond Hoaglund, 1,447; Madden, 1,441; Laurie Sheppard, 1,407; Sosa, 1,382.

Also, King received 585; Angela Davenport, 584; Smith, 576; Jerome Sweeney, 570; Eric B. Johnson, 486; Pipes, 331.

Meanwhile, in Medford Lakes, R. Stanley DuBrul, 41, won his first four-year term on the borough council, joining incumbents Michael Levinsky, 43, and John P. Gaitens, 61, who has been mayor for eight of the last 10 years.

Gaitens, who works for Northville Industries, was the top vote-getter, polling 690 residents. Levinsky, who was elected to a second four-year term, received 688 votes. And DuBrul, an engineer for Stone & Webster in Cherry Hill, finished third with 676 votes.

Joseph Maggelet, 36, a combat-systems test project manager at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, lost with 424 votes.

"We're very happy to have Mr. DuBrul on council with us," said Gaitens, who has been a borough resident for 24 years.

DuBrul said he would take a systematic approach to attacking some of the critical issues facing the borough, particularly the strained budget.

Medford Lakes, a former resort community with 5,100 residents and 21 lakes on a swatch of land about one square mile, has no new ratables available and increased demands on its finances, especially skyrocketing landfill and insurance costs.

In Delran Township, incumbent Councilmen Andrew Ritzie, William Smock and Patrick Tinney eased into four-year council terms last night in an unopposed election.

Smock, 49, received 48 votes from the residents he represents in Ward Three, which encompasses a part of Millside Heights and Tenby Chase. A computer salesman, Smock has lived in the township for 14 years and has served on the council since 1982.

Ritzie, 41, received 90 votes from residents in Ward Two, which encompasses the Pancost, Bridgeboro, Swedes Run and Moorbridge sections and portions of Millside and Tenby Chase. Ritzie owns a computer-programming business and joined the council in July 1984 to fill the unexpired term of then-newly elected Mayor Richard Knight. Four months later, he was elected to complete the mayor's unexpired, two-year term.

Tinney, 37, received 100 votes from residents in Ward One, which encompasses Riverside Park, Cambridge and Delcrest. A health education teacher at Palmyra High School, Tinney has served on the council since 1978 and, for two years, has been the council's appointee to the township's Recreation Advisory Committee.

Although elected on nonpartisan tickets, the three will remain part of an all-Democrat, five-member council. Knight also is a Democrat.


Towns Plan To Join Forces For Do-it-yourself Insurance

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1986-12-03/news/26066895_1_insurance-pools-premiums-umbrella-policy
Posted: December 03, 1986

By next Wednesday, a group of Burlington County municipalities hopes to discover whether self-insurance could work for its members.

On that day, delegates from 10 to 12 interested communities expect to select a plan administrator at a meeting in Delran Township's municipal building, where they have been gathering for months to try and turn the idea into reality.

A plan administrator would analyze the audit (insurance) histories of the interested communities and produce projected costs: the bottom line.

Before a community could join the pool, it would have to submit a five-year insurance-history audit. As of last month, 10 communities had completed such audits, although the degree of their interest ranged from hot to tepid.

Those 10 were Burlington City and the townships of Delanco, Delran, Eastampton, Edgewater Park, Evesham, Florence, Maple Shade, Moorestown and Pemberton. Mount Holly and Cinnaminson were interested, but had not submitted audits.

A meteoric rise in insurance premiums is driving municipalities into self- insurance pools, and three already exist in the state, with others in the formative stages.

The self-insurance concept seems agreeable, Delanco Township administrator Jeff Hatcher said, but his community, like others, wants to see the numbers before it participates.

Delanco's case is typical. In 1984, the township paid $33,091 for all insurance premiums. By 1985, that was $56,424, and for this year, it's an estimated $87,800.

That includes workmen's compensation; commercial auto; real and personal property; general liability; police professional liability; public officials liability; a valuable-papers policy; an equipment floater, and an umbrella policy.

And Delanco is typical of other communities in another way: Not only are insurance companies laying on heavy premiums, but, in some cases, they won't even sell the coverage or are very reluctant to do so.

The 1986 Delanco insurance-cost figure, for instance, Hatcher said, "is what we have budgeted." He didn't know the actual cost because the township's umbrella policy ran out at the end of August and, Hatcher said, "should have been renewed in September, and so far we have not gotten a reply as to whether they're going to renew. We've been sending letters off to the (state) commissioner of insurance."

The failure of insurance companies to renew so-called umbrella policies - covering claims for $1 million and up - is why pools have suddenly become a hot issue.

"I think that's why a lot of communities are looking" at self-insurance, Hatcher said. "There is just no justification" for premium costs based on actual claims experience, he said.

Gerald D. Mingin, township administrator in Eastampton, is a strong advocate of self-insurance.

"We support it in concept 100 percent," he said. "However, we are not going to commit the township to fund it until an administrator is selected and works up our projected assessment. We want to wait and see if there are significant savings."

Eastampton's own figures indicate there could be.

"Our total premium for 1981-85 was $135,077," Mingin said. The insurance company paid $33,316 in claims and placed $3,590 in claims reserve. "The net unexpended premium was $98,571 that they pocketed," Mingin said.

Last year's figures were even more dramatic. Eastampton paid $60,000 in premiums. The carrier paid $1,200 in claims.

The history of the three New Jersey self-insurance pools in existence indicates considerable savings would be realized by the Burlington County pool - enough to make one worthwhile.

Ray Blumenthal, administrator of River Vale in Bergen County as well as of the Bergen County Municipal Joint Insurance Fund, told Burlington County delegates at a Nov. 7 meeting that the effect of an insurance pool "is profound. The premiums for all (of River Vale's) insurance have gone up less than 30 percent since the fund started" two years ago.

"Towns will be banging on your door" to join, Blumenthal said. "Ten months ago, we placed a moratorium on (Bergen's) fund," precluding the addition of more members.

"This is the core group," said Delran administrator Matthew H. Watkins at the November meeting. "We are not mailing out (information) to any other community."

Fourteen communities launched the Bergen County self-insurance pool on Jan. 1, 1985, Blumenthal said, the month "all the non-renewal notices went out" from insurance companies to municipalities, setting off panic. He said there were now 29 communities in the pool.

Blumenthal said a pool had its best chance of succeeding if member communities had similar characteristics.

"All our towns are similiar," he said. "None are over 15,000 population. None have paid fire departments. None of them have over 125 employees, nor a budget of more than $8 million." The large communities, Blumenthal said, ''should be insuring themselves."

Delran administrator Watkins said that "from an initial review of the (Burlington County) audits, I think we have a big enough fund," but noted, ''The audit doesn't necessarily commit or exclude you."

Four professional firms responded when the consortium asked for audit studies prior to picking a plan administrator, Watkins said. One firm wanted payment up front and probably will not be considered, he added.

"We (will) select one to put together a feasibility study and go around to the various councils and sell it to them," Watkins said. "That's the point where you're in or out."

Dave Grubb, now a special deputy commissioner in the state Department of Insurance and the first chairman of the executive board of the Bergen pool, said legal start-up for a pool is not complex.

"Each individual municipality would have to pass an ordinance or resolution under the regulation promulgated by the Department of Insurance jointly with the Division of Community Affairs," Grubb said.

The resolution would have to include acceptance of the by-laws of the fund; authorization of execution for an indemnity and trust agreement with the fund, and specification of the length of time the community would be in the fund and in what lines of coverage it would be participating, Grubb said.


Local Governments Adjust To Life After Revenue-sharing

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20151222005620/http://articles.philly.com/1986-12-15/news/26069618_1_local-budgets-tax-money-federal-budget-deficit
Posted: December 15, 1986

It paid for street lights in Upper Darby Township, kept the police force in Delran Township, N.J., on the payroll, and provided fire hydrants in Rockledge Borough in Montgomery County.

It provided treatment for mental patients in Camden County and paid hospital employees' salaries in Burlington County. In Montgomery County it supported programs ranging from ambulance service to prison work-release.

Now it's gone.

Revenue-sharing, born in 1972 under the Nixon administration, died in October, a victim of efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit. In its lifetime, it provided $83 billion to local governments, and with its death, many area municipalities are, in the words of Delran Township Treasurer Lou Kaniecki, "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Of 11 local municipalities surveyed about their budgets for the coming year, only three were certain they would not raise taxes. Nine expected higher taxes, elimination of programs, reduced personnel or hiring freezes.

In 1984, the National Association of Counties surveyed what might happen to local budgets the following year without revenue-sharing.

The survey concluded that ending the program could force Pennsylvania counties to raise property taxes an average of 15 percent or reduce services by an equivalent amount. In New Jersey, a 5.5 percent average property-tax increase or equivalent service cut was predicted. No such study was made for 1986.

The idea behind revenue-sharing was that local officials knew best how tax money should be spent for their governments.

It was an idea that had support from both political parties, said Earl Baker, chairman of the Chester County commissioners and of the state Republican Party, but with the pressures to reduce the federal deficit, its $4.5 billion annual cost made it "the type of program targeted for the chopping block."

Baker, who once headed the tax and finance committee of the National Association of Counties, is philosophical about the end of the program.

"Perhaps it's better for us as local officials to fix our gaze on local solutions," he said. "Far too often we've looked to Washington. We shouldn't put all our eggs into one basket. We have to, in essence, grow up and out of this dependency on federal money."

The chairman of the Bucks County commissioners, Carl Fonash, sharply disagrees.

"It was probably the most productive program the federal government had," he said, citing revenue-sharing's low overhead: One-tenth of 1 percent of the program's funds were used for administration costs.

"When you compare the way we use our money in front of the people," Fonash added, "they slop more money down there in Washington in a week that nobody knows about than the whole constituency of the United States has received through revenue-sharing in a year."

Most local governments have used revenue-sharing funds for their operating budgets, holding down property-tax increases by paying for salaries, capital projects, welfare programs and other services. Many townships and boroughs used the funds for public safety, because police salaries usually take up the largest chunk of small-town budgets.

"When revenue-sharing was initially authorized," said Susan White, legislative aide for the National Association of Counties, "it was used predominantly for infrastructure like roads and highways. As we saw a decline in state and federal spending in human services, we saw a shift in the use of that money to fill in the gaps."

Local officials say that dealing with the end of revenue-sharing will be made more difficult by federal mandates requiring additional expenditures in areas such as pollution control and social services. Some see it as a clear shift of the tax burden from the federal to the local levels. In addition, some states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, place limits, called ''caps," on local property taxes.

In Bucks County, commissioners prepared for the loss of $3 million in revenue-sharing funds by imposing a hiring freeze and eliminating 125 jobs ranging from clerical to top management in areas such as the health department, the planning commission and the prison system.

"There's less jobs to do the same work," Fonash said. "That means either less work (gets done) or (it takes) more time to do it.

"Security was sacrosanct within the prison system, so we tried to look at peripheral jobs and cut away at those functions."

In New Castle County, Del., the $6 million lost in revenue-sharing has made 1987 budget negotiations "the most difficult . . . that the county has faced in the last 17 or 20 years," according to Dennis Rochford, chief administrative officer.

To regroup, the county plans to impose an 18-month hiring freeze. It has also contracted out maintenance of two golf courses and grass-cutting in its parks. Still, the county faces an $8 million to $9 million shortfall, and a tax increase is expected. Officials also have appealed to the state for increased financial assistance.

Revenue-sharing funds had been declining in recent years - from $218.1 million in fiscal 1985 in Pennsylvania to $192 million in fiscal 1986, for example - and some local governments had been preparing for the program's demise.

In Delaware County, the $3.26 million received from revenue-sharing went to the county's SEPTA contributions. That helped offset the county's major expenditure - disposal of solid wastes.

According to the vice president of the county council, Edwin B. Erickson, the county has recently purchased a landfill to reduce contracting costs, started an aluminum-recycling program, and awarded a contract for a trash-to- steam plant. Since 1985, the county has also eliminated 100 government positions through early retirement and attrition, Erickson said.

Despite those cost-cutting measures, he said, the county's 1987 budget will include a property-tax increase of more than $6 for each $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Wilmington, which lost $2.3 million, anticipated the cut by raising taxes by 15 percent last year. The tax increase created a surplus that will be used to pay fire and police salaries once covered by revenue-sharing funds.

And in Burlington County, the Board of Freeholders is seeking state grants to fund operations once covered by $2.3 million in revenue-sharing. Bradford S. Smith, director of the board, said he was hopeful that increased property- tax revenues brought in by rapid development in the county would make a tax increase unnecessary.

In urban areas such as Philadelphia, which lack the expanding tax base of some suburban areas, the loss of revenue-sharing funds hits particularly hard. A cut of $45 million in revenue-sharing will "have a significant and major impact" on the city, Mayor Goode said in an interview. "Increased revenues through taxes will be an absolute last resort," he said.

"Cities are really, really scrambling," said Sharon Stabinski research and policy development coordinator of the Pennsylvania League of Municipalities. "They had problems in prior years. . . . Now that revenue- sharing's been cut, you're really in a nightmare."

For Upper Dublin Township in Montgomery County, the loss of $181,000 was directly responsible for the township's new earned-income tax of 50 cents on every $100 earned, said finance director Martha Perego.

In Burlington County's Delran Township - population 14,811 - the loss for the 1987 budget of $60,000 in revenue-sharing funds has brought a tightening of the end-of-the-year purse strings.

"We have to put the public works people on limited overtime to pick up the leaves," said the township's treasurer, Lou Kaniecki. "We have to be stingy, because it's all we could afford."

Some local officials expect that another aid program will be created to replace revenue-sharing. As a sign of continued interest in the program, they cite efforts in Harrisburg - so far unsuccessful - to revive a statewide $132 million revenue-sharing package.

In the meantime, said Delaware County's Erickson, "we might as well make the best of the situation. The money's gone."


Delran Acts On Parking Complaints

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1987-08-27/news/26168488_1_parking-ordinance-visitor-parking-residents
Posted: August 27, 1987

Delran residents of Second, Third, Chestnut, Front, Main and Brown Streets may soon see something unusual in front of their homes - places to park their cars.

An ordinance approved by the Township Council last night limits parking on sections of those streets to residents of the area. Decals for cars showing that they belong to residents will be sold for $7 by the township. Each resident of the area also will receive two visitor parking permits.

Residents have complained during the last four months that employees of MacMillan Publishing Co. Inc., a firm on Brown Street, were parking in all the available spaces in front of their homes.

Solicitor Thomas Foy said some residents could not find parking places in front of their homes because of the employees. A number of residents in the area have no driveways.

Barbara Farley, attorney for MacMillan, said the ordinance discriminated against the company, Delran residents living outside the area and non-township residents.

"We are obviously opposed to the parking ordinance as it stands," Farley said. "It is obviously aimed at MacMillan. I know the reason for it. I think MacMillan has gone a long way to resolve the problem. In essence, what this ordinance will do is make it (the area) a private parking lot."

Although MacMillan supplies parking lots for its employees, Farley said she did not know whether enough spaces were provided for all employees and visitors.

Farley declined to make any additional comment after the meeting. Two township officials said they did not know how many employees work at MacMillan.

Although Farley said the situation had improved recently, several residents disagreed.

"If your house is in the immediate vicinity, if it hasn't improved in front of your house, it hasn't improved," said George Zitzler, a 15-year Chestnut Street resident who does not have a driveway.


Earl L. Bozarth, 69; Was Former Mayor Of Delran

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150923190638/http://articles.philly.com/1987-09-29/news/26207561_1_funeral-mayor-vfw-post
Posted: September 29, 1987

Earl L. Bozarth, 69, of Delran, a former township official and businessman, died Saturday at Memorial Hospital of Burlington County, Mount Holly.

Mr. Bozarth served on the Township Council between 1962 and 1970, serving as appointed mayor for two years during that period. He also was a member of the Road Department committee.

A lifelong resident of South Jersey, Mr. Bozarth was born in Delanco and lived in Delran for the last 47 years. He owned two businesses, Bozarth Trucking and Bozarth Fuel, both in Delran.

Mr. Bozarth was a World War II veteran and served as a chief warrant officer with the Army. He was a member of VFW Post No. 3020 and the Riverside Lodge No. 187 of the Free and Accepted Masons. He also was a member of the Scottish Rite Consistory of Collingswood.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth Longfield Bozarth; a son, Municipal Judge Bennett E. of Marlton; two grandchildren; a brother, Lee of Riverton, and two sisters, Joan Headman of Edgewater Park and Faye Hoelz of Riverside.

A viewing will be held at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Chadwick Memorial Home, 154 Webster St., Riverside. A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. at the funeral home. Burial will be at Odd Fellows Cemetery, Burlington.


Delran Set To Vote On Code Enforcing Property Upkeep

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1988-04-20/news/26253669_1_property-maintenance-property-upkeep-property-maintenance
Posted: April 20, 1988

The township council will vote on final passage of Delran's first property- maintenance code in its regularly scheduled meeting at 8 p.m. next Wednesday in the municipal building.

The ordinance attempts to solve what township administrator Matthew Watkins called "an ongoing problem with certain things that people complained about, such as junk cars, junk in yards and high grass."

The township has received regular complaints about unsightly land and buildings, he said.

"Some people do not take care of their property," he said. "We're trying to make Delran a nice place to live and we need something more than a loosely written ordinance, something to provide enforcement power."

Until now, Delran has attempted to manage property maintenance with the use of "nuisance laws," Watkins said. "We used to rely on sending residents letters asking them to clean up their property and they pretty much did that.

"Now, the informal letters are just not cutting it. The informal manner in which we tried to abate the problems does not work any longer."

The proposed Delran ordinance is patterned in part on ordinances in other communities and on advice from attorneys, Watkins said.

"There is nothing in these provisions that are unusual from other property-maintenance codes," he said. "We are not being any more strict than other communities that have property maintenance ordinances.

"Even with the new law, we are always going to try to work things out informally," Watkins said. "We are going to try to make sure the people have an opportunity to clean it up. We're not going to go in heavy-handed.

"I think some people are worried that we are going to go around and say, 'Paint your house.' We are going to go very slowly at first. We have to have time to get everything set up and find out our problems," he continued.

"This ordinance is looking to correct the habitual violator of property- maintenance codes. It's not a situation where we are going to go through the township and cite everybody in town that has the least little thing wrong or where we are going to cause any anguish to residents. The intent of council is to keep from harming anyone, especially senior citizens. We're going after the problem people, people that have had habitual problems that do not respond to continual requests to clean up or abate the problem."

Under the proposed ordinance, violators who do not clean up their properties after being issued a summons by the township code enforcement official face fines of up to $100 for a first violation and up to $250 for a second. For a third violation, the penalties can be up to $500 in fines and 90 days in county jail.

The proposed ordinance states that:

* Driveways must be kept in good repair and properly maintained, free of litter and debris. Bent and leaning signposts must be replaced or straightened.

* Parking of motor vehicles except on paved or gravel driveways is prohibited except in emergency situations not exceeding 24 hours.

* Lawns, hedges and bushes may not be allowed to overgrow and become unsightly.

* The exterior of all structures must be maintained free of broken glass, loose shingles, crumbling stone or brick and excessive peeling paint.

* Abandoned iceboxes, refrigerators, heaters, television sets and other major appliances are not permitted to be kept on the exterior of the premises.

* Vehicles, including boats or trailers, that have been junked, abandoned, dismantled or that are in a state of visible disrepair may not be kept more than two weeks if they are visible from others' properties.

And forget about aiming your snowblower's chute toward the street or sidewalk. The ordinance would ban residents from removing snow or ice from their own property and placing it on sidewalks, streets or fire hydrants.

The ordinance would take effect within 10 days after passage, or on May 7 if it is passed at next Wednesday's meeting.

Watkins said the township council had been considering introducing such an ordinance since last summer. Township clerk Bernadette Porreca also said the council had considered such an ordinance at least once before, about 10 years ago.


Elections In 3 Towns Tomorrow Posts At Stake Are Nonpartisan

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1988-05-09/news/26260962_1_incumbents-campaign-manager-challengers
Posted: May 09, 1988

Voters tomorrow will choose officials in nonpartisan elections in Gloucester Township, Bass River Township and Delran.

In Gloucester Township, two slates of five candidates are trading insults in a campaign for control of the seven-member council.

Bass River voters will choose three Township Committee members from a field of four candidates. In Delran, the mayor and two Township Council members are running unopposed.

The Gloucester Township race pits the five incumbents, who call themselves the Good Government Team, against the New Team for Gloucester Township Taxpayers. The incumbents are all Democrats. The challengers are a mixture of Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Four of the five seats up for grabs in Gloucester Township are for four- year terms. The fifth race will determine who will assmue the two-year unexpired term of Aaron Alexander, who resigned earlier this year for health reasons.

The Good Government Team is led by the council president, Nicholas F. Trabosh, a lawyer who has served 12 years on the council.

Trabosh is joined by Gabriel G. Busa, owner of a floor-covering company; John "Jay" McGinniss, a master plumber, and Elizabeth Dougherty, a homemaker. Each has served six years on the council.

Samuel M. Siler, a teacher of data processing and industrial arts, is the slate's candidate for the unexpired two-year term. Siler was appointed by the council as the interim replacement in February.

The New Team for Gloucester Township Taxpayers comprises Daniel J. Pisko Jr., an operations manager for a condominium complex; Ethel "Dolly" Tames, a real estate agent; James H. King, a construction worker, and Anne DiCarlo, a shop operator. They are challenging the incumbents to four-year terms.

David M. Welsh, a former county employee who is now self-employed, is contending for the two-year unexpired term.

Frederick F. Fitchett, the campaign manager for the challengers, has complained throughout the campaign that the incumbents have thrown around too much weight at taxpayers' expense.

For instance, Fitchett said, the incumbents questioned the legitimacy of the challengers' nominating petitions in March because some of the signatures did not include middle initials. He called the challenge "ridiculous."

Fitchett also questioned the timing of the township's quarterly newsletter, which was mailed to residents last week. The cover of the color pamphlet, which is financed by taxes, includes a photograph of the five incumbents above a story praising the council for a budget cut.

"These are the types of things we've been up against all along," Fitchett said. "We don't think the taxpayers should have to put up with this any longer. It's a disgrace."

Trabosh, speaking for the incumbents, has complained about "a dirty campaign" run by the challengers, and he questions their experience.

"They have started so many unfounded rumors throughout this campaign, and they've waited until the end of the election so we wouldn't be able to address their silly accusations," Trabosh said.

"Usually in a campaign, there are some issues your opponents have that you could still consider if you get elected," Trabosh said. "But I haven't heard anything positive from them. Instead, they've been going around making things up to try to make us look bad."

In Bass River, where political parties have traditionally kept clear from running slates under ostensibly nonpartisan labels, the contest for three Township Committee seats is between a Republican county committeewoman on one side and the slate of a township school board member and two incumbents on the other.

Running on a ticket together are incumbents T. Richard Bethea, 39, a self- employed computer consultant; George McGeoch, 41, a union pipefitter, and Woodley Shuff, 41, a union electrician who is a member of the Bass River Board of Education.

Their sole opponent is Helen Hazard, 46, a Bass River secretary who is a member of the Pinelands Regional Board of Education, the Burlington County Mosquito Extermination Commission and the Republican County Committee.

Delran voters have little choice - the mayor and two Township Council members, all Democrats, are unopposed in their re-election bids.

Richard J. Knight, 42, a senior account executive for AT&T Co., is seeking his second four-year term as mayor. Mary Ann Rivell, 44, an administrative assistant to Assemblyman Thomas P. Foy (D., Burlington-Camden), and Walter Schultz, 54, shift supervisor for Rohm & Hass Co. in Bristol, Pa., are both running for their second four-year terms.

The Delran council has five members.

Polls for the three elections are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Federation Strives To Help Democrats And Women

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150919071057/http://articles.philly.com/1988-07-31/news/26236626_1_democratic-women-democratic-candidates-democratic-party
Posted: July 31, 1988

For the Democratic Party and women in Burlington County, the last decade in politics has been a long one.

The party has been on the outs in county government for more than 10 years, and the GOP continues to have a solid hold on every countywide elected office. And women, who make up 53 percent of the county's population, hold fewer than 15 percent of county and municipal offices.

The statistics can be discouraging for members of each group and downright disturbing for members of both. Men and Republicans are entrenched in Burlington County, and those involved know that turning around the situation would require a Herculean effort.

Enter the Burlington County Federation of Democratic Women - a group whose goal is to improve the unenviable political position of both its party and gender.

Hoping to ride the coattails of high Democratic spirits that dominated prime-time television during the recent party convention in Atlanta, the group is launching an effort to increase its political role - and its dwindling membership.

At a meeting Monday night, the group members - seven women and one man - met to discuss the federation's future. Seated around a table in the back room of the Londonshire House Restaurant in Burlington City, the eight determined members drank coffee and discussed strategy.

The group basked in the afterglow of what it considered a successful convention, engaged in some lively criticism of the Republicans and talked earnestly about doing more for Democratic candidates.

"We have to address ourselves to working every day, not just at election time," said member Dorothy Zeichner. "We have to talk about raising money and backing candidates all year long."

A major topic of discussion, and one of the group's main goals, is to inspire more women to take part in the election process and to run for political office.

"We encourage equal and full participation in every level of government and in the party structure," said Mary Ann Rivell, a Delran councilwoman and a member of the group.

Federation members believe their group is an ideal forum for those - especially women - looking for a way to get involved in government.

Though their unofficial platform concentrates heavily on issues important to women, such as child care, education and pay equity, the group says it represents the interests of all Democrats.

To attract new members, the federation is considering a direct-mail campaign aimed at registered Democrats throughout the county and a word-of- mouth outreach program. The intent, the members say, is to let people know they exist.

Though small in numbers, members say, the group plays a major role in the party's effort to get Democrats elected in the county's 40 municipalities.

"Democrats can't get elected without the work of the federation," said Zeichner. "We stuff the envelopes, make the calls and pound on the doors."

Federation members said they plan to be even more active in the coming election. Several have pledged to work for Democratic Freeholder candidate Mary Anne Reinhart. A group-sponsored fund-raising dinner for Reinhart and her running mate, Paul Stephenson is in the works.

The group knows all too well the work cut out for it in getting Democrats elected in such a conservative county, but members say, they will do their best to match the more-recognized and better-funded Republicans.

"What they have in money, we have in manpower," said Zeichner. "We do the work for free - we have to."


James J. Maher Sr., 69, Former Mayor Of Delran

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150910112119/http://articles.philly.com/1989-10-26/news/26116842_1_mayor-committee-duties-navy-veteran
Posted: October 26, 1989

James J. Maher Sr., 69, former mayor of Delran, died Monday at Zurbrugg Hospital in Riverside.

A member of the Delran Township Committee from 1957 until 1962, Mr. Maher was elected mayor by the committee for two one-year terms. The young township had not yet built a municipal building or police station, and the Police Department was run from Mr. Maher's front porch as part of his committee duties.

He also served on the Delran Planning Board and the Democratic County Committee.

Mr. Maher worked as a maintenance planner at the Public Service Electric & Gas Co. generating plant in Burlington for more than 33 years before retiring nine years ago. He was a former welding teacher at the Burlington County Vocational School.

He was past president of the Delran Fire Company Number 2, a New Jersey Exempt Fireman and was a former member of the Delran Emergency Squad.

Mr. Maher was born in Philadelphia and lived in Camden before moving to Delran 46 years ago, when he married Mildred Marshall. He was a Navy veteran of World War II and a member of St. Peter's Church of Riverside and the church Ushers Association.

Survivors include his wife; two sons, James J. Jr. and Robert; three daughters, Christine Etsell, Jane and Joan, all of Delran; six grandchildren, and a brother.

Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight at Sweeney Funeral Home, 337 Bridgeboro St., Riverside. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Peter's Church, 102 Middleton St., Riverside, with burial in the church cemetery.


A Rare Contest In Delran - For Council Seat

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1990-05-06/news/25886785_1_first-ward-school-board-member-election
Posted: May 06, 1990

On Tuesday, Delran's dominant Democratic organization will face its first contested regular election in at least eight years. Voters will choose Township Council members for all three ward seats on the nominally nonpartisan body.

Second Ward Councilman Andrew Ritzie, 45, and Third Ward Councilman William Smock, 53, are running unopposed, just as they did in 1986. But in the First Ward, incumbent Madeleine Horchak again faces Henry Shinn, whom she defeated, 52 percent to 39 percent, in a special election to fill the seat last fall.

"I was really surprised at how well I did last year," Shinn said. "If people really liked the way Delran is being run, we wouldn't have had such a big turnout." More than 750 First Ward residents cast ballots in 1989, compared with 100 in 1986.

"When I sat down and looked at the numbers, I said to myself, 'Somebody wants something to change,' " Shinn said.

Horchak, 54, a homemaker and community activist, and Shinn, 29, a machinist and volunteer fireman, both said they were committed to maintaining services in the First Ward, which covers Cambridge, Riverside Park, Hunters Glen and adjoining neighborhoods, all of which are north of Route 130. Development has shifted to newer neighborhoods south of Route 130.

"You really have to fight to get your share," said Horchak, a former school board member who said she first ran for office "to serve my side of the highway."

Shinn said the First Ward had already lost ground to subdivisions such as Millbridge and Tenby Chase. "We're neglected," he said. "This is a very old section. . . . When Delran expanded on the other side of the highway, being newer homes, more expensive homes, they leaned towards putting all the services there. It's time we start getting our share."

Shinn denounced what he called "dust bowl" conditions in playing fields and some streets in his ward. "Our representatives haven't been doing their jobs," he said. "I can do better."

"He's a nice young kid," Horchak said of Shinn. "Last fall after the election I urged him to get involved, start with a committee somewhere. Sometimes it's really necessary to pay your dues."

Horchak said she had helped ensure maintenance of the Brown Street athletic field and was fighting to get improvements for the Faunce Street field. She said she also had responded to neighbors' concerns about noise and air pollution from tractor-trailers idling on the streets around Macmillan Publishing.

"I pushed for the ordinance that bans parking on Third Street for trucks," she said. With the help of her husband, a tractor-trailer driver, Horchak said she had met Macmillan officials, drivers and residents to find mutually acceptable solutions.

Both candidates also are pitching housing issues. Horchak, a member of the council's Substandard Housing Committee, which will begin meeting in May, said she supported the council's efforts to slow low-income and condominium development until state formulas for assigning maintenance costs were worked out. Shinn has a plan to establish rent control for senior citizens.

While Horchak has Democratic support, Shinn said he was "more of a Republican." Shinn said he was a populist rather than a party man, and he was not concerned that as an anti-organization council member he could be frozen out by a hostile majority.

"I'm definitely an underdog," Shinn said. "But if you get enough people around you, and let them know you're not working for a tight little machine, but for everybody . . . you can get things done. I say we need a lot of new blood."

Neither side is taking the First Ward for granted; both candidates said they planned to visit every home in the ward.

The candidates are running for four-year terms. Delran's mayor and two at- large council members will not be up for election until 1992. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


3 Newcomers Elected To Posts In Delran And Madford Lakes

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1990-05-13/news/25889204_1_council-veteran-unexpired-term-special-election
Posted: May 13, 1990

Several new faces will appear on the Medford Lakes Borough Council and the Delran Township Council in July after three newcomers earned council seats in nonpartisan elections Tuesday.

A newcomer upset an incumbent for a four-year term for the First Ward council seat in Delran, and two newcomers were elected to four-year terms in the Medford Lakes at-large council.

Henry A. Shinn, 29, a volunteer firefighter and machinist, defeated Madeline Horchak, a community activist and homemaker, by a vote of 237 to 223. Shinn had competed against Horchak for the council seat in a special election last November, after Horchak was appointed to complete an unexpired term in January 1989.

Before the election Shinn said he wanted to try again for the seat because of his strong showing in November. Shinn received 39 percent of the vote in November to Horchak's 50 percent, proving to him, he said, that "somebody wants something to change."

In his campaign, Shinn supported the passage of rent-control laws protecting senior citizens, improving the condition of local playing fields and reinstituting twice-a-week trash pickup, which had been cut back for financial reasons this year. Shinn praised the 1990 municipal budget drawn up by the present council members.

Shinn will be the only member on the nominally nonpartisan council who is not actively endorsed by the Democratic Party - a position which could make him an outsider on many issues.

"It'll probably be four against one," he said, adding that he did not know where conflicts could arise. "I really don't know all their stances. Until I get in, get my hands dirty . . . and find out exactly where they stand - then I can work to either (smooth out the differences) or try to back up my stance."

Shinn will join the council at its annual reorganization meeting, scheduled for the first week in July.

Incumbents Andrew Ritzie and William Smock were uncontested in their bids for re-election in the Second and Third Wards, respectively.

In Medford Lakes, two newcomers and an incumbent were elected by force of their personalities, according to Borough Manager Judson Moore Jr., who said there were no real issues in the contest.

Sixteen-year council veteran John P. Gaitens, an executive for an environmental firm, inched ahead of C. Philip Murray Jr., a tax planner and business consultant, by 67 votes. Gaitens received 569 votes to Murray's 502 to win a two-year seat on the council.

Michael Keating and David D. Wasson emerged victorious in the contest for two available four-year terms.

Keating, a member of the Borough Planning Board and an engineer for General Electric Co. in Moorestown, was the top vote-getter with 549 votes. Wasson, vice president of Eckenhoff Buick Inc. of Moorestown, was second with 448 votes.

The other candidates in order of votes received were: Sherrie Marzi, 376; Dominick J. Paradise, 258; Charles J. Turner, 236; and Fred W. Luttrell, 194.

Gaitens, Keating and Wasson will be sworn into office at the council's reorganization meeting, July 1.


Most Community Budgets Kept On Hold Towns Cannot Set Tax Rates Without Ok

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150921044719/http://articles.philly.com/1991-07-07/news/25784820_1_budgets-public-hearing-tax-bills
Posted: July 07, 1991

More than 60 percent of Burlington County's 40 communities were still awaiting final state certification of their budgets last week, but there seemed to be no panic in municipal officialdom.

It remains to be seen just how nervous they will get in the next eight days if their budgets still have not been approved or certified.

The state has not certified budgets for 26 communities in the county. Six of them have not yet adopted budgets. Without all approvals, no municipality can strike a tax rate.

Traditionally, July 15 is the latest day municipalities mail out tax bills if they expect taxpayers to come up with third-quarter payments due Aug. 1.

The entire budget process has been delayed this year. More than half the state's communities applied for discretionary tax-relief funds - money diverted from the Quality Education Act (QEA) - and last week, almost three quarters of them were waiting for state approval of those funds. Other municipal budgets were late because the state supplied them with erroneous budget-increase cap figures.

Officials in some of the six communities that have not adopted budgets saw no need to borrow from banks on TANs - tax anticipation notes - to cover shortfalls. Surpluses should tide them over in the short term until new tax revenues start flowing, even though cash reservoirs are low this year because the depressed economy has hurt tax collections.

Paul E. Thomas, manager-clerk and chief financial officer, explained the situation in Medford Lakes, one community that had not adopted a budget. (The others were Delran, Palmyra, Riverton, Tabernacle and Wrightstown.)

"The state had given us the wrong cap number, and we had to reduce the budget . . . and amend it. That was submitted to the DCA (state Department of Community Affairs) for approval. As things stand, we plan to conduct a public hearing on the amendment" on Thursday, Thomas said. If the DCA has approved it by then, the budget will be adopted then.

In the meantime, Thomas wields a nervous pen when he picks up the borough's check register.

"Bills come in every day, and sometimes it's difficult to make decisions about paying bills when you don't know if you're going to have a budget to pay them," he said. "The state is very quick to remind finance officers that if they overspend appropriations, they can be fined and their license taken away. If I lose my license, I've lost my job."

Riverton's budget was delayed and amended to include additional court revenues, and there will be a second and final reading and a public hearing Thursday, according to Bruce M. Gunn, council president.

"We don't know if the tax bills are going to be delayed going out," he said. "We hope to get them out as soon as the budget's adopted."

The borough has no contingency plan, Gunn said. He said it would consider one if the state did not certify the budget in time.

Tax rates for individual municipalities are struck by County Tax Administrator Sam Paglione, but not until the whole budget approval process is completed.

Under the process, municipalities must introduce a budget, send it to the state for approval, get it back and hold a public hearing and adopt it, then have the state certify it. Only then can the tax rate be established.

Through Wednesday, the budgets of only 14 Burlington County communities had been certified - Bordentown and Burlington cities; Delanco, Edgewater Park, Hainesport, Mansfield, Mount Holly, Mount Laurel, New Hanover, Shamong, Springfield and Willingboro Townships, and Fieldsboro and Pemberton Boroughs.

Even after getting final approvals, further delays are entailed because almost all communities farm out the printing of their tax bills to private vendors.

Cinnaminson is an exception. It prints them in-house with its own computer program.

Cinnaminson adopted its amended budget June 19 and shipped it to Trenton. ''A couple of days after that, they called and asked for two more copies," said John Ostrowski, township administrator. Eight days after sending it off, Ostrowski called asking when it would be certified. No answer yet.

Of the 567 municipalities in the state, the budgets of only 148 had been certified by the end of the business day Monday.

"More than 300 towns made applications for discretionary (QEA) funds," said Jay Johnston, public information officer for the Division of Community Affairs. "And we are not going to be certifying them until those awards (approvals) are made."

Authority to award the funds is left to the director of the DCA's Local Government Services. "We expect those awards to be made this week," Johnston said Tuesday.

"They say they are putting (the budget certifications) out as fast as they can," said Paglione. "Everybody is just sitting on edge of their seat."

Paglione said he had alerted municipal assessors, tax collectors and managers to be on call. "Some are on vacation, but they're ready to come back at a minute's notice."


Knight Is Turned Out In Delran Election

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-05-13/news/26011423_1_clean-campaign-election-officials-mates
Posted: May 13, 1992

Delran Mayor Richard Knight, who ran unopposed during his last campaign in 1988, lost his office last night to Thomas DiLauro, the local Republican chairman, who hammered at the administration's tax record throughout this spring's nonpartisan campaign.

"Not only did people want a change, I think we ran an honest, clean campaign and we presented a platform that people accepted," DiLauro said after his acceptance speech at the Polish-American Club in Delran last night.

DiLauro and his two running mates won resoundingly over Knight's slate in a clean sweep. Election officials said the turnout was the largest since 1976 for a local election.

Knight was unavailable for comment.

"Nobody knew what a Republican was in this town. We took it back," DiLauro said, although the election is officially nonpartisan. He has lived in Delran for about two years.

One of DiLauro's running mates is Republican: Anthony Ogozalek Jr., a 22- year-old graduate of Seton Hall University. The other, Eileen McGonigle, a 46-year-old homemaker and first-time candidate, is a Democrat.

During the campaign, Knight's two opponents tapped into widespread discontent, insisting that taxes have increased during Knight's administration and that his administration was at least partly to blame for a 42 percent increase in Delran's water-usage tax. The increase was rescinded in April because of powerful local opposition.

DiLauro, 50, works in Conrail's finance department. He advocated eliminating health benefits for township board appointees and establishing a recycling program for plastics.

Knight's running mates were Councilman Walter J. Shultz and Joseph M. Otto, chairman of the township's ethics commission. Knight and Shultz are Democrats. Otto is a Republican.

Jon S. Hewko, 38, a registered Democrat and maverick member of the local sewage authority, trailed far behind in the race for mayor.


Delran Mayoral Vote Outcome Is Same In Recount

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150922141918/http://articles.philly.com/1992-06-18/news/26032218_1_mayoral-race-third-place-candidate-council-elections
Posted: June 18, 1992

A recount conducted last week by the County Board of Elections confirmed Tom DiLauro's victory in the Delran's mayoral race.

DiLauro and Mayor Richard J. Knight received the same number of votes as were recorded on May 12, while third-place candidate Jon Hewko lost one vote, an election board supervisor said Monday. DiLauro had 1,152 votes, Knight 1,032 and Hewko 712.

"I wasn't surprised at all," DiLauro said Monday. "I've never seen an election turned around with 120 votes. I can't even see why he (Knight) called for a recount."

Knight served two four-year terms. DiLauro will be sworn in on July 1.

Knight said Sunday that disappointed supporters had urged him to seek a recount. Although not optimistic that the results would be changed, Knight said, he agreed to the filing of a petition with Superior Court because he wanted to dispel lingering doubts that poll workers had not accurately read the machines.

In the council elections, both members of DiLauro's team won landslide victories over Knight's running mates.


They Want A Fence, But Run Into Wall

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20151018141713/http://articles.philly.com/1992-06-25/news/26032576_1_property-line-new-fence-part-time-zoning-officer
Posted: June 25, 1992

Ron and Janice Clawges never imagined that replacing an old fence on their corner property at Tenby Chase Drive and Sharrow Vale Road in Delran would be such a hassle. Many neighbors had done it.

By April, they had plunked down $700 for 216 feet of six-foot high, weather-resistant wood, leaving a balance of $2,342, they said. They plan to replace an existing rotting fence that is five feet from the property line with a new one having a 10-foot setback.

"We feel we should be able to improve our property," Janice Clawges said. ''It (the old fence) is one eyesore to the neighborhood."

But they ran head-on into the local zoning ordinance, which states that fences on corner properties must obey a 25-foot setback and be no higher than three feet. The regulation was designed to avoid obstructions to the vision of cars waiting at or approaching intersections.

At 25 feet, the Clawgeses' new fence would almost abut their house. It was determined by measurements that a fence 10 feet from the property line would allow cars at least 150 feet of visibility.

Since April, the Clawgeses said they have spoken to several public officials and explored nearly all the bureaucratic avenues, none of which has brought satisfaction. At one point, they contacted an attorney.

Adding to the bureaucratic maze, the May 12 municipal elections left Delran with a new mayor and township council, making it more difficult to challenge the ordinance until the new administration takes over July 1. Current members of the council, the body responsible for adopting or changing ordinances, did say Wednesday that they will include the challenge on a list of pending matters.

In the meantime, the couple has rejected applying for a variance with the Zoning Board of Adjustments because the $450 processing fee did not guarantee success.

They said their frustration had been further piqued at what they claim is selective enforcement, which officials acknowledge has occurred in Delran zoning cases.

"I think a case can be made that there has been," Mayor Richard J. Knight said while repeating an observation that Delran's part-time zoning officer, Tom Cappetti, does not have time to enforce the ordinance alone.

The Clawgeses hit their first roadblock on April 22, when their contractor applied for a permit, costing $30, they said. Building Inspector Don McMahon then told them the plan was non-conforming.

Angered, they scouted the neighborhood one evening and wrote down the addresses of 51 corner properties that they believed were in violation of the ordinance. They presented the list a few days later to Cappetti, who indicated, they said, that all of them had permits or variances. Cappetti could not be reached for comment.

The Clawgeses were told to apply for a variance and notify all their neighbors living within 200 feet of their plans.

But when the Clawgeses' list was verified by Inspections Office clerk Thelma Espenschied, it showed that just two properties had received variances. Ten others had permits, but for what purpose was left undetermined, Espenschied said.

"If a majority of the people had obtained permits and variances, then I would have paid (for one)," Ron Clawges said bitterly.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, was similarly turned off by the process six years ago, she said Wednesday. Wishing to install a fence, she made her own survey, bypassed the ordinance and advised the Clawgeses to ignore it, too.

"I tried to do the right thing," but "if you look around, every property in Tenby Chase has done what they wanted," she said. "To have them give you grief? After paying all those taxes, I'm going to lose my property for my kids?"

Because the inspections office's files date back only to 1985, it remains unclear whether old fences like the Clawgeses' original had received permits before adoption of the present ordinance in 1979, Espenschied said. Those with permits would be grandfathered.

"The site plans showed existing fences that go back before the ordinance," she said. "Whether they have permits or not, I'm not sure."

A search predating 1979 would require wading through the cumbersome archives, she said.

Meanwhile, the Clawgeses still have the money they had saved up and a rickety fence.

"I'm willing to spend it (the money)," Ron Clawges said. "Now I can't."


Problems? Call Delran's New Hotline

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-08-02/news/25989618_1_new-hotline-local-government-problems
Posted: August 02, 1992

Delran residents with nagging questions for their local government need no longer wait for office hours.

They can call a hotline number - 461-3341 - after hours, Mayor Tom DiLauro told the council July 25. The move fulfills one of his campaign promises.

"The reason is to give the opportunity to residents to be able to register a complaint or report a problem after regular business hours," said DiLauro, who took office on July 1 after defeating eight-year incumbent Richard J. Knight.

The hotline is hooked up to Township Administrator Jeffrey S. Hatcher's phone. An answering machine will field calls when he is not at work. DiLauro said that he will receive all messages but that Hatcher will attempt to resolve as many problems as he can during the day.

The mayor did not have to seek the council's approval for the move, but Councilman William Smock said he approved of it anyway because it would increase residents' access to government.


Slam-dunking Is In Danger In Delran The Township, Wary Of Lawsuits, Wants To Ban Roadside Hoops.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-09-17/news/26024836_1_hoops-streetside-ordinance
Posted: September 17, 1992

Eighth grader Jason Stieg of Delran, a varsity basketball player at Moorestown Friends School, credited practice at a hoop outside his home for his performance breakthrough last season.

"I just started in the fifth grade," said Stieg. "I wasn't that good, and last year, I made varsity. I don't think I could have made it if I couldn't practice every day."

Spending about $200, Stieg's parents had planted a basketball pole and backboard in the strip of lawn at the edge of the road. Like scores of other township families who have installed similar backboards, they thought they were providing Jason with an innocent form of recreation.

Delran certainly isn't Philadelphia, where the streets buzz with the rhythms of basketball games played around makeshift hoops. But practicing for a team, playing an impromptu game or even enjoying a bit of lazy streetside shooting is in jeopardy in Delran as the township prepares an ordinance that would forbid the streetside hoops and require owners to remove existing ones within 90 days.

As written, the ordinance, which carries a $500 fine or a 90-day stint in the county jail for non-compliance, would extend to any structure that overhangs a street, alley or public right of way.

Although no one from the police chief down to council members could recall any injuries related to the streetside hoops, the council not waiting for the worst to happen because of the threat of liability.

The ordinance will be introduced at Wednesday's meeting. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 28, after which the five-member council will vote on ratifying the ordinance.

"That's going to be a hot potato," said Council Vice President William Smock, but he added that the ordinance was likely to be approved.

"If a person gets injured playing basketball in a car way, we are liable," Smock said.

Councilwoman Eileen McGonigle initiated the discussion with council, responding to what she said were safety concerns expressed by several of her neighbors in Tenby Chase.

"The point is, there were some vans in the way, and you can't see the children," McGonigle said. "The point was made that some of them (the poles) were broken by (trash and public works) trucks. It was something that was there and needed to be brought out."

Township Administrator Jeffrey S. Hatcher then presented the council with information from an attorney with Delran's insurance carrier that said townships were liable if mishaps, such as car accidents, occurred around a streetside hoop.

On a drive through Delran, Smock said he counted 92 such hoops. Most of them, he said, were located on side roads.

Twice in recent years, once when a youngster injured his eye playing baseball and another time when a man fell off a set of bleachers, the township has been sued and forced to compensate those injured on public property.

But the ordinance takes safety and liability a little too seriously for residents who own their own hoops.

"I have four kids plus the neighborhood kids," said one Diane Drive resident who constructed his equipment by using a discarded gas main for a pole. "The playground is far away, and you can't keep an eye on them," said the man, who declined to give his name.

"Big Brother," he said of the township ordinance.

"It will be a real annoyance more than anything if we have to take it down," said Jason Stieg's mother, Carol.

One alternative, placing hoops on driveways, is less than ideal because of their slope.

"It really stinks, because I can't put it in the driveway," Jason Stieg said.


To Delran Youths, Halloween Curfew Is Simply Ghoulish What Do They Really Fear? Not Getting Enough Candy By 8 P.m. On Mischief Night, The Curfew Will Be 10.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-10-18/news/25998559_1_curfew-trick-or-treaters-youths
Posted: October 18, 1992

The decision didn't make sense to this group of Delran youngsters ages 10 to 13 - seasoned trick-or-treaters every one of them.

Acting on advice from Police Chief Art Saul, the Delran Township Council has advanced the Mischief Night curfew to 10 p.m. and prohibited trick-or- treating on Halloween after 8 p.m.

Worried because those quintessential celebrations of the young fall on Friday and Saturday nights this year, Saul insisted the police needed an enforcement tool to crack down on youngsters interested in flauting the law. Normally, the township's curfews are midnight on weekends and 10 other nights.

News of the 8 p.m. limit on Halloween fell like a bomb. What can even the most ambitious youngster accomplish by then?

Jeff Olivo, 10, protested the restriction "because you don't get enough candy. I (always) stay out till 10 p.m."

"That's the corniest thing in the world," 11-year-old Victor Veston added. "A lot of people might not be home" at the earlier hours.

The youngsters, interviewed during a pickup football game, said their schoolmates already knew about the ordinance. Who could be surprised after a bunch of grownups had just manacled their evening of adventure?

Saul called the curfew ordinance "a tool. You can use it if you need it."

According to him, Mischief Nights have been especially fertile ground for disorderly conduct, though rambunctiousness has declined the last several years because parents have cracked down on troublemakers.

Enacting curfews hardly makes Delran a pariah. Many other South Jersey municipalities often enforce them on an ad hoc basis. Saul said many municipalities also had Mischief Night and Halloween curfews.

One of his chief hopes was that the curfew might help prevent older youths from harassing younger trick-or-treaters. The youngsters interviewed said that had never happened to them, but they cited a long list of typical Mischief Night behavior that supported Saul's contentions on at least one point.

The list ranged from throwing eggs, breaking pumpkins, ringing doorbells and soaping cars to stealing flowers, stuffing tailpipes, slashing tires and breaking windows.

Victor Veston said that the headlights on his grandfather's car were smashed last year and that the inside was sprayed with plastic string.

"All the old people, they can't handle this," he said.

In fact, the youths couldn't understand why the 8 p.m. curfew wasn't applied to Mischief Night and the 10 p.m. curfew pegged to Halloween.

Saul said a football game on Mischief Night at the high school, which should attract a large crowd of youngsters, would have made an early curfew impractical then. And, he said, the 8 p.m. limit on trick-or-treating Oct. 31 gives youngsters plenty of time to collect candy.

The youngest trick-or-treaters have the least to lose because they are often escorted earlier in the day by parents and older siblings, like the ones playing football on an unusually warm fall day.

Frank Scazzuso usually takes his 8-year-old sister door-to-door and then goes out himself. Now by the time they finish, he said, it might not be worth going out anymore.


Fisherman Succeed Only Too Well In Getting Lake Rules On Agenda The Delran Proposal Would Ban Not Only Remote-control Boats, But Anglers' Electric Motors As Well.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-10-22/news/26000253_1_toy-boats-fishermen-fishing-lines
Posted: October 22, 1992

DELRAN — Swedes Lake, a popular fishing hole, has become the unlikely setting for a lively turf war and a peace treaty that stands to please nobody.

Fishermen, who in August requested a ban on a small contingent of noisy, radio-operated, fuel-powered, remote-control boats, are befuddled over the ordinance that the Township Council has finally proposed. It prohibits not only the toy boats from the 45-acre lake, but also their own quiet electric outboard motors they use for fishing.

They are organizing a minor fishermen's insurgency to protest the proposed ordinance, which will be introduced on Wednesday. The council, in order to avoid controversies involving power-driven boats, came up with an ordinance that permits only muscle power - canoes and rowboats.

"Just for a few people running their powered boats, I think they're (the council members) eliminating a lot of people from using the lake," said Percy Muetz, a lakeside resident and avid fisherman who has complained about the remote-control boats for two years.

The boats Muetz refers to are models of speedboats up to three feet in length that can zoom around the lake at speeds of about 40 m.p.h. Fishermen complain that the little boats befoul fishing lines and scare fish.

Now, Muetz is fighting against the ordinance, spreading word of the proposal among members of local fishing clubs in hopes that many will protest at the meeting.

Swedes Lake, which runs from Second to Fifth Streets on the west side of the township, is the site of a former sand-and-gravel operation. It attracts a crowd of fishermen that grows large on weekends and holidays. Many are retirees fishing for large-mouth bass and catfish.

"I have seen as many as 19 boats on the lake at one time using electric motors," Muetz said.

The real problem is the remote-control boat operators who scare away the fish and are rude to the fishermen, Muetz said.

"The complaint is, while people are fishing off the banks, they are running (the boats) in front of them," he said.

Robert Tool, a Delran resident who began building and running his own remote-control boats last year, has a different view.

"It's blown way out of proportion" by the fishermen, he said. "They think they own the lake. This is what irritates me."

Tool, skeptical that his fellow hobbyists were as inconsiderate as some fishermen made them out to be, said he tried to be courteous to the fishermen by not running his boat near them or their fishing lines.

There is an ordinance in Delran that bans all power-driven crafts, but it was ambiguous and has gone unenforced, said Councilman Anthony Ogozalek. That opened the way for remote-control boats.

The new ordinance would simply specify that electric motors are included in the ban contained in the exitsing ordinance, according to Ogozalek. As the council's representative to the township's Marine Affairs Advisory Committee, he spent the last several months trying to work out a satisfactory arrangement for the fishermen.

The Marine Committee proposed banning the much-louder remote-control boats powered by fuel while allowing electric motors on both fishing and remote- control boats.

To Ogozalek's frustration, the council didn't buy the idea.

"There are certain nuisance things you don't get into," Council Vice President William Smock said. "They (the fishermen) think they own it (the lake). They don't."

Lakefront residents have fought previous battles with fishermen, including one eight to 10 years ago that eventually kept the fishermen from casting off lines from the residents' lakefront private properties. Some are watching the current controversy with amusement.

"They (electric motors) make no noise," Pat Rossi said.

The fuel-powered remote-control boats, by contrast, are extremely loud, but Eileen Jordan said their operators rarely use the lake, and, when they do, it is usually for about an hour. She showed little enthusiasm for banning them. Charles Hurd agreed.

"I think they should be open to everybody," because the lake was designated a Green Acres property in 1973, he said. He called the proposed ordinance "kind of silly."

The Township Council could adopt the ordinance next month after a public hearing.

With a tinge of bitterness, Tool said there would be a certain justice in banning both groups from the lake.

"It's gotten to the point where I can't go over there and relax," he said. "So I don't care."


Delran Basketball Fans Win Big In Joust Over Street-side Baskets

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-10-29/news/26001072_1_hoops-private-streets-council-members Posted: October 29, 1992

DELRAN — Showing some street smarts, the Township Council performed its version of the fast break last night for the blacktop crowd.

Council members rejected placing a ban on street-side basketball hoops, installed by private citizens, after spirited public opposition during the second reading of the ordinance.

About 50 residents attended the meeting.

Council was ready to pass the proposed ban - or table it until Dec. 16 - over residents' protests. But they were dissuaded after a last-minute tongue-lashing by Councilman Andrew Ritzie.

"I oppose this," said Ritzie. "I do feel it's important for parents to supervise their (children) on private streets."

He called the motion to table "a cop-out."

"We're all here tonight. You have to look your constituents in the face," Ritzie said.

Ritzie concurred with residents who said the township was overreacting to liability concerns should a child get hurt near one of the township's estimated 92 street-side hoops. In addition, residents complained that there were not enough township recreational facilities to compensate for their loss.

Most of the opposition came from residents of the township's Temby Chase neighborhood, where most of the hoops are located. If the ordinance had passed, they would have had to remove the baskets at their own expense or face fines or a 90-day jail term.

Police Officer Leonard Mongo, a Temby Chase resident himself, criticized the proposed ban during the debate of the second reading. "I've never answered a call where a kid got hurt (near one of the hoops)," said Mongo, who installed one himself three years ago.

Council vice president William Smock and council president Henry Shinn joined Ritzie in opposing the measure, though they had spoken in favor of it during the second reading. Councilwoman Eileen McGonigle, who first raised the issue, voted for the proposal. Councilman Anthony Ogozalek Jr. abstained.


Longtime Delran Homeowner Nails Down A Neighborly Victory The Decision Is Final: Tom Freynick's Embattled Shed Prevails, To The Delight Of Many Neighbors.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1992-12-27/news/25995402_1_zoning-board-property-values-power-saws
Posted: December 27, 1992

DELRAN — For self-employed carpenter Tom Freynick, the best news out of the last Zoning Board of Appeals meeting was that his life was back to normal.

In front of 25 neighbors who praised him for being a good neighbor and improving his Arch Street property, the zoning board ruled that Freynick was not running a business out of his backyard shed, which would be illegal under the township's amended 1979 ordinance.

He can keep on running the power saws inside - the ones he has been using for 15 years to prepare woodwork for on-site jobs.

"Thank God it's over," Freynick said. "After two years, I can get back to living again."

That includes working as a carpenter without worrying that he might be forced out of business.

Freynick's troubles began after Alexander Oros 3d moved into a house across the street from him in October 1990. No one had ever objected to the shed, the noise and the light coming from it, or the appearance of his yard. Oros cited all of it in complaining that Freynick had created an eyesore that was dragging down property values.

The shed was also being used to run a business, Oros said.

However, the outpouring of neighborhood support for Freynick Dec. 17 left little doubt that Oros was virtually alone in his mini-crusade. He was backed by his father, Alexander Oros Jr. But his grandfather, Alexander Oros Sr., who also lives across the street from Freynick, would not.

"He's only trying to make money to pay his taxes," Oros Sr. said of Freynick. "He's made a big improvement in the property. You couldn't have a nicer neighbor."

Thomas Cappetti, the township's zoning code official, inspected the property in November 1990 and determined that Freynick was not running a business there.

Cappetti's report did criticize the appearance of the yard. Freynick moved a pickup truck off the property and spent $350 on a new fence at the rear of the shed and $950 on other improvements.

Oros 3d pressed for more.

Freynick took his case to the Township Council on June 10.

He said he felt harassed. And he added that if operating the power saws inside the shed constituted running a business, he wanted the operation grandfathered because home businesses were permitted under the previous ordinance.

Freynick has been using the shed since 1977.

On Dec. 17, after shelling out $400 for a variance application and more in attorney's fees, Freynick found himself in front of the board.

His wife came. Two brothers came. His father was there.

They saw him win.

The board ruled that preparing items for on-site work was a permitted use of residential property.

George E. Hulse, attorney for Oros 3d, said the board was misinterpreting the ordinance.

"The man rips lumber, fixes doors" in the shed, Hulse said. "Just because they're ultimately going to be installed doesn't mean it's not a commercial use.

"It's obvious that public opinion and emotion was on the side of Mr. Freynick," he added. "I think that had something to do with the board's decision, as is not unusual at all. I don't mean that as an indictment of the board."

Hulse said his client planned no further action.

Richard Smith, one of nine neighbors who spoke up for Freynick at the hearing, approached him and shook his hand.

"They never should even have gone through all this nonsense," Smith said.

More than 20 supporters sat through nearly four hours of testimony. At the end, about 11:15 p.m., Oros 3d declined to comment.

But Freynick had this to say: "I've got a great bunch of neighbors."


Delran's Mayor May Face Probe

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-03-25/news/25948941_1_plow-blizzard-cost-sand
Posted: March 25, 1993

DELRAN — The township's Ethical Standards Board is expected to investigate accusations that Mayor Thomas DiLauro misused his power and wasted taxpayers' money by instructing the Public Works Department to plow out his townhouse complex during this month's blizzard.

"The best thing is to go to an impartial body," Councilman Andrew Ritzie said after a heated argument during last night's council meeting.

No date has been set for the ethics board to convene. Township Clerk Bernadette Porreca said the six-member body, which was set up as a consequence of the 1991 Ethics Law, had never met.

The accusations are political, according to DiLauro.

Last year, DiLauro became Delran's first Republican mayor in at least eight years. His accusers, John Myers and Alan Ashinoff, are active in the local Democratic Party.

DiLauro began fending off the angry charges shortly after praising the Public Works Department for going "over and above" its regular task of clearing and sanding public roads only.

DiLauro lives in Mill Run Commons, an complex of 29 townhouses off Route 130 North on Suburban Drive. Myers and Ashinoff said that on March 15, the Monday following the blizzard, they saw township employees plow Suburban Drive and lay sand where the roadway meets several entrances at Heritage Square, a shopping complex adjacent to Suburban Drive.

Mill Run Commons residents, like residents of condominium complexes, are not entitled to have their roads plowed by public employees.

"I think you misused your authority as mayor of the township, and I think you should be called on it," said Myers before about 15 other residents.

Cleaning up after the blizzard cost the Public Works Department $17,000, Council President Henry Shinn said.

DiLauro denied asking the department to plow Suburban Drive, but acknowledged that he had asked the employees to sand the entrances. He said many older people lived in the adult community and, in case of snow-related illnesses, emergency vehicles would find it difficult to enter the complex.

"They did not plow," DiLauro said. "They put sand on the entrances. It had been plowed the night before by a private concern. We have the bill."


Residents Say Mayor Is Using Scare Tactics Those Who Brought The Mayor Under Investigation By The Ethics Board Are Being Probed By Dilauro.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-05-26/news/25962382_1_ethics-board-private-investigator-township-residents
Posted: May 26, 1993

DELRAN — Township residents, whose complaints prompted an ethics investigation of Mayor Tom DiLauro, now accuse him of using intimidation tactics by sending a private investigator to question them.

"It's a real sad scenario when you try to make a mayor accountable and you get a goddamn investigation shoved in your face," said John Myers, one of the complainants. "I'm not going to back off."

For nearly two months, the township Ethical Standards Board has been examining complaints by Myers and two others that DiLauro ordered the Public Works Department to plow the townhouse complex where he lives - Mill Run Commons off Route 130 North - on March 14 and 15. The workers cleared snow left by the big blizzard that ended March 13.

Myers, Allan J. Ashinoff and Donna Melchiorre said DiLauro abused his power for personal benefit while other residents of Delran struggled to shovel away the deluge. DiLauro, a Republican who was swept into office last May, said the charges are false and political, the work of his local Democratic enemies.

In response, the mayor and his attorney are saying they have the legal right to pursue their own investigation. Because the board has refused to supply them with all of its investigation records, they have no choice but to gather their own information, said Frederick F. Fitchett, who is also chairman of the Camden County Republican Party.

On the evening of May 17, Myers and Ashinoff were each visited by a private investigator - they described him differently - who carried a card from TMK Associates in Cherry Hill.

Myers and Ashinoff said they were asked to name the race of the public works employees who were operating the plow at Mill Run Commons.

Said DiLauro: "Those people are upset that I'm doing anything to defend myself. The only reason they're intimidated is they're afraid they might get caught in a lie."

DiLauro charged that the ethics board's chairman, Joseph Otto, who lost a race for council against his slate last May, is seeking political revenge and should "remove himself from the board."

The board's attorney, John Harrington, was fired by DiLauro as township solicitor. He "hates me so much (he) won't even say hi to my wife and me at a public function," said the mayor.

Said Otto: "I have no problem in acting as chairman of the ethics board. The mayor's rights will be upheld. It's very unfortunate he thinks that way."

The ethics board is convening for the first time since being established under the 1991 state and township ethics laws. Any public official accused of ethics violations has the right to counsel. If DiLauro is cleared, the township would be responsible for his defense bills, including those of the private investigator, Fitchett said.

If found guilty, the board could fine him between $100 and $500.

The members, selected by the Township Council, are Otto, Joe Chinnici, the Rev. Donald Rolfs, Joseph Walsh, Pat Ronayne and Charlotte Boellman.

Otto and Harrington have so far interviewed Myers, Ashinoff and Melchiorre, who are all members of the Delran Democratic Club. Otto said they have also interviewed Public Works Department Superintendent Ed Bart, three department employees and Township Administrator Jeffrey S. Hatcher.

Those interviews took place in early April, but Otto said Harrington has been unable to schedule a meeting with DiLauro. So far, Fitchett and Harrington have each canceled at least one interview but in a letter to Fitchett last week, Otto set an interview deadline of Saturday.

"I think ample time has been given for the mayor to respond," Otto said. ''If we can't come to a meeting by the 29th, the ethics board will conclude its investigation."

At that time, the board will meet in public to decide if the charges have enough substance to justify a complaint and arranging a public hearing, Otto said.

Bart, who was approached by DiLauro's investigator on May 12, said he referred all questions to his lawyer and also advised his employees not to talk.

"I don't think it's right that he came here to ask me questions. Not at work and not on township time," Bart said. "He ain't intimidating me."


Prosecutor Agrees To Probe Charge Against Delran Mayor Mayor Dilauro Calls Allegation He Ordered The Township To Plow His Townhouses A "Vendetta."

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-06-24/news/25974521_1_ethics-board-private-investigator-vendetta
Posted: June 24, 1993

DELRAN — Mayor Tom DiLauro, who says an investigation by the township ethics board into his conduct during the March blizzard is a political vendetta against him, believes he has just won a tactical victory in the nearly three-month- long probe.

The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office has granted his request to open an investigation into the allegation that the first-term mayor ordered Ed Bart, the superintendent of public works, to send three department employees to plow his townhouse complex, Mill Run Commons, on March 13, 14 and 15, after the blizzard.

"I asked to take it out of the hands of these people," DiLauro said, referring to Joseph Otto, chairman of the township Ethical Standards Board, and the board's solicitor, John Harrington. "Put it in the hands of the prosecutor. They're qualified to do it."

DiLauro, who hired a private investigator to question some of the people - including two witnesses - interviewed in April by Otto and Harrington, charged that both men were simply looking for political revenge.

Otto, a Republican like the mayor, ran on a slate that lost to DiLauro's slate in last May's nonpartisan election. DiLauro says Otto wants to run again for the Township Council in November, to fill a vacancy created by the death of a council member.

Harrington, who had been township solicitor under the previous Democrat- dominated administration, was fired by the council at DiLauro's urging after DiLauro became mayor in July.

Otto criticized the mayor's request for an outside investigation, saying it ''doesn't make sense. It's not warranted. He indicated I did it (because) I have some vendetta against him because I lost the election. But that's ridiculous."

Gary Daniels, chief of investigations in the prosecutor's office, confirmed DiLauro's request came by letter but said, "Our investigation was primarily prompted by the facts and circumstances we became aware of via the newspapers."

He said his office had begun subpoenaing the ethics board's paperwork and would eventually speak with DiLauro.

The prosecutor's office will not, however, grant DiLauro's request for a counter-investigation into Otto's and Harrington's conduct as the board's investigators, Daniels said. "We're simply limiting our investigation to criminal allegations."

If the prosecutor's office finds the allegations are factual, DiLauro could be in violation of state criminal laws, Daniels said. On the other hand, the ethics board could, at most, levy a $500 fine.

Otto and Harrington have interviewed eight people - the three complainants, three Public Works Department employees and two witnesses to the alleged plowing, Bart and Township Administrator Jeffrey S. Hatcher.

DiLauro said he was hoping the ethics board would halt its proceedings pending any findings by the prosecutor's office, but that may not happen.

On Monday, the board found that the allegations against the mayor were not ''frivolous" and that it could proceed with a public hearing.

At the hearing, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 2, members would take sworn testimony from several people. They would include DiLauro, who was angry at not being interviewed before Monday's meeting. DiLauro will address the ethics board before the public hearing, at a meeting scheduled for Monday.

Frederick F. Fitchett, DiLauro's attorney and chairman of the Camden County Republican Party, said he would try to obtain the same Ethics Board documents the prosecutor's office is subpoenaing.

"I think the key to defending any client is having all the information," Fitchett said.


Ethics Hearing Due On Mayor Of Delran

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20150926202850/http://articles.philly.com/1993-06-29/news/25971305_1_ethics-board-ethics-hearing-township-probe
Posted: June 29, 1993

DELRAN — Three months after township officials were told that the mayor had ordered the Public Works Department to plow out the driveways of the townhouse complex where he lives, the township's Ethical Standards Board heard what Mayor Tom DiLauro had to say.

And after the four of six members present read DiLauro's written statement in a 20-minute closed session last night, the four voted unanimously that the allegations had merit and that a full hearing on the matter is warranted. They set the hearing for Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the township municipal building.

"We shall introduce witnesses and evidence that will prove that the charges are erroneous," said Frederick Fitchett, DiLauro's Haddon Heights attorney. "My client will be exonerated."

DiLauro has been accused of ordering Ed Bart, the township's superintendent of public works, to send three department employees to plow out his townhouse complex, Mill Run Commons, on March 13, 14 and 15 after the big blizzard.

The ethics board is headed by Joseph Otto, who ran on a slate that lost to DiLauro's slate in the May 1992 nonpartisan election. DiLauro alleges - and Otto denies - that the township probe was politically motivated. Otto is running in November for the seat left open by the death of Councilman William Smock.

Lorraine Schmierer, a Delran resident and former mayor who serves as Tabernacle's township administrator, criticized the ethics board for agreeing to hear the matter because "it gave too many appearances of conflict of interest." She said the state Local Finance Board in Trenton would have been a more appropriate body to conduct such a hearing.

In addition to the township investigation, DiLauro, in his first-term as mayor, faces an investigation into the matter by the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.

But the county investigation is one that DiLauro said he welcomed and had even requested. The prosecutor's office, however, has not granted DiLauro's request for a counter-investigation into Otto's conduct.

The solicitor for the ethics board is John Harrington, who had been the township solicitor until he was fired at DiLauro's urging after DiLauro became mayor last July.


Delran Approves Salary Scale For Its Employees

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-07-29/news/25978907_1_salary-scale-jif-police-salaries
Posted: July 29, 1993

DELRAN — The Township Council last night adopted a salary scale establishing minimum and maximum salaries for about 55 township employees, including members of the township's police force.

The police salaries reflect a recently ratified contract for officers with the rank of sergeant and below, whose three-year contract grants them annual pay raises of 5 percent. The contract runs until January 1996.

Police Chief Arthur Saul will be paid $53,380, and the department's four lieutenants will receive $48,496 each. Business administrator Jeffrey S. Hatcher will earn $54,282 annually, and public works superintendent Ed Bart will get $42,292.

In other action, the council approved an overhaul of the township's ordinance book, bringing it up to date with current township and state laws. The overhaul will cost $12,000, and the new book, which, for the first time, will feature a long-desired table of contents, should be available to residents in two months.

Some of the ordinances in the old book never were removed even though they were made obsolete by the subsequent adoption of new ordinances.

The council also renewed its contract with the 13-member Burlington County Joint Insurance Fund (JIF), which Hatcher said has saved the township tens of thousands of dollars since Delran joined in 1991. JIF is a pool in which member municipalities combine finances to purchase insurance coverage, including workers' compensation, at a cheaper group rate. Hatcher said Delran would pay about $190,000 to the fund this year, compared with $211,000 it was paying for less coverage before entering the JIF.

The township also renewed its membership in the Municipal Excess Liability Joint Insurance Fund, which provides about 260 municipalities in New Jersey with coverage in case of expensive liability cases.


Do Ethics Boards Hurt More Than Help? In Delran, An Investigation Of The Mayor Has Prompted Him To Challenge The Investigators' Own Ethics.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-08-09/news/25969300_1_state-ethics-law-ethics-boards-local-ethics-panels
Posted: August 09, 1993

DELRAN — The township ethics board has spent $3,500 so far investigating whether Mayor Tom DiLauro abused his powers by getting a township snow-removal crew to plow his townhouse complex after the March blizzard.

And, board chairman Joseph Otto acknowledged, the total still does not cover some items, including DiLauro's legal expenses if he is cleared.

The inquiry is on hold now, as the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office looks at the same allegations. But when it's all over, if DiLauro is found remiss by the ethics board, he may be fined no more than $500.

That's not the only thing some people in the township are finding wrong with the inquiry. It galls some - DiLauro most of all - that among those sitting in judgment over him is Otto, a former political opponent, and that the board's solicitor is the same man who was fired from his post as township solicitor at DiLauro's behest.

Ed McCool, executive director of New Jersey Common Cause, which helped revise the state ethics law, said that while he was not familiar with the case in Delran, he was surprised that Otto had not excused himself from the inquiry.

The inquiry, said Councilman Andrew Ritzie, an occasional critic of DiLauro's, is failing at its most important task: It does not appear to be impartial. "I think it would be better served if it was outside the town," he said.

"Outside" would mean the Local Finance Board of the state's Department of Community Affairs, which has handled 85 such cases since a 1991 law sought to encourage the establishment of local ethics panels by giving them subpoena powers.

But so far, only about 40 of the state's 567 municipalities have set up an ethics board or told the state they plan to establish one, said Jay Johnston, spokesman for the Department of Community Affairs.

In South Jersey, according to Johnston, only the following municipalities have formed ethics boards: Delran, Lumberton, Mansfield, Moorestown, Mount Holly, New Hanover and Willingboro in Burlington County, and Voorhees and West Deptford in Camden County. There are none in Gloucester County, he said.

One of the most active, other than Delran's, has been the ethics panel in Voorhees. Since it was founded in 1987, it has issued conflict-of-interest strictures against several township officials.

"I think certainly the community has to be made aware, people have to feel that there's some kind of watchdog that knows these things are being handled properly," said Rabbi Richard A. Levine, chairman of the Voorhees Ethics Board.

Few ethics boards, it appears, resemble Voorhees'.

"We've had some questions asked of us, but just informally," said Loretta Taylor, chairwoman of the panel in Moorestown. "It's getting to be one of the more popular committees, because nothing happens."

Said Johnston of the state Department of Community Affairs:

"The practical reality has been, when faced with issues of expense or politics . . . municipalities (have decided) not to (create) a local ethics board," Johnston said. "By default, the state became the ethics board for more than 90 percent."

That would have been fine as far as DiLauro is concerned.

"I think it should be in the state where it's unbiased . . . and there's not the opportunity for people to take out their political vendettas," he said.

DiLauro has acknowledged calling the public works crews to plow and sand the entrances to his Mill Run Commons townhouse complex, but he said he did that because some of the residents are elderly. The streets inside the complex were plowed by a private contractor, he said.

While DiLauro has nothing but praise for the ethics board's other five members - Joseph Chinnici, the Rev. Donald Rolfs, Joseph Walsh, Charlotte Boellman and Patricia Ronayne - he has said repeatedly that Otto and board solicitor John Harrington are conducting a political vendetta against him.

Otto was on a slate that lost to one led by DiLauro in the township's nonpartisan elections for mayor and council in May. He is a candidate again for an open council seat. Once DiLauro, a Republican like Otto, became mayor, the council at his urging removed Harrington as township solicitor.

Otto has repeatedly said he holds no grudge against DiLauro and sees no reason to excuse himself from the inquiry. He calls a local ethics board a necessity. Harrington, too, has said his role in the inquiry is not improper.

"I think the board's actions to date . . . have been excellent," Otto said. "That process has to be available to the residents of Delran."

The ethics board ruled in June that the charges against DiLauro were not ''frivolous" and thus a public hearing could be arranged. Originally scheduled for last Monday, the hearing was put off at the request of the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, which is conducting a criminal investigation into the complaint.

If criminal charges are filed, the ethics board probably would drop the matter, said Harrington.

There is one change that Otto would want in the way the ethics board works: He said he would like the Township Committee to consider restructuring the system of fines so the board can regain its expenses.

John Myers, one of three people who complained to the ethics board about DiLauro's conduct during the blizzard, said that the board has been fair but that the township would be better off having the state handle its ethical questions because of the cost.

The local process, he said, works in favor of the accused and penalizes residents who try to hold officials accountable for their actions, pointing out that he was questioned by a private investigator hired by DiLauro's attorney.

"There's a provision for him (DiLauro) to have representation, there's no limit on cost," Myers said. "There's nothing for the complainant, the backbone of the town. It's a shame."


'You Haven't Heard The Last Of This' The Prosecutor Cleared Delran's Mayor In A Snow-cleanup Probe. But Critics Were Still Heaping On Scorn.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-10-06/news/25935474_1_ethics-board-ethics-code-public-works-employees

Posted: October 06, 1993

DELRAN — Mayor Thomas DiLauro may have been cleared of criminal allegations that he abused his power during snow cleanup during the blizzard in March, but angry residents and the township's ethics board say he shouldn't celebrate just yet.

"I know what I saw, Mr. Mayor," said Donna Melchiorre, who was interviewed by the prosecutor's office and told investigators that she saw public works employees removing snow at the mayor's Mill Run Commons townhouse complex during the blizzard. "You haven't heard the last of this."

She commented after DiLauro called a news conference at which he released copies of a letter from the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office stating that the office found "no wrongdoing" in its investigation.

Complaints from some of the town's residents also prompted an inquiry by the Delran Ethical Standards Board.

Melchiorre was among some of the complainants who continued to accuse the mayor of ethical improprieties, angrily confronting him at the news conference.

"What the prosecutor's office is inferring is that I was not telling the truth, the other complainants were not telling the truth and that the public works employees out there were not telling the truth. Apparently, the whole world is not telling the truth but Mayor Delauro is," Melchiorre said.

She said she planned to write a letter to county officials protesting the prosecutor's findings.

"If this is how it works, then when it snows this winter I want my driveway plowed, too, because I'm paying taxes, lot of taxes," she said.

Allan J. Ashinoff, another resident who told county officials that he witnessed work crews at DiLauro's complex, said the prosecutor's findings didn't change his views that DiLauro acted improperly.

"As far as ethics, I still feel there was some wrongdoing," Ashinoff said.

DiLauro, a Republican, called the investigation a "personal vendetta" against him by his political enemies.

The complainants are all members of the Delran Democratic Club. The head of the town's ethics board, Joseph Otto, ran unsuccessfully for a Township Council seat on a slate that lost to DiLauro's slate in 1992. Also, the solicitor for the ethics board, John Harrington, was fired by the township at DiLauro's urging after DiLauro became mayor.

Otto dismissed as "ridiculous" DiLauro's contention that the ethics panel's inquiry is politically motivated.

He said any further inquiry by the board will depend on the county's specific conclusions. As of late yesterday, Otto said he had still not seen the findings clearing DiLauro.

"If they're saying only that criminal intent didn't exist, then obviously the process may continue, but that would be up to the entire board to decide," Otto said.

"The board felt all along that there was not criminal intent. But we do believe that there was a possible violation of the ethics code," he said.

DiLauro said if the town's ethics board continues its investigation, he will request that the state take over the matter. He also announced that if the board would drop the matter, he would pay his own attorney fees.

So far, the investigation has cost the township about $3,500. Should DiLauro be cleared by the ethics panel, the town would also have to pay the mayor's legal expenses.

If DiLauro is found to have violated ethics codes, he could be fined between $100 and $500.


Delran Ethics Board Sends Dilauro Flap To State Panel

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-11-16/news/25948620_1_ethics-board-ethics-panel-state-panel
Posted: November 16, 1993

DELRAN — The Delran Ethical Standards Board, wrestling with the issue of whether the mayor and its own former chairman violated ethics laws, last night voted to put the matter before a state panel to avoid further divisiveness and expense for the town.

Residents have fought for months over whether Mayor Thomas DiLauro misused his power and ordered town crews to plow his condominium driveway during a blizzard in March.

A complaint was brought against DiLauro. He subsequently filed a complaint against Joseph Otto, who was chairman of the ethics panel until Joseph Walsh replaced him in a routine reorganization vote last night.

The three residents who originally lodged the complaints against the mayor said they felt betrayed by the board's decision because they had wanted it to settle the matter. Allan Ashinoff, Donna Melchiorre and John Myers noted that the vote merely endorsed a course that the Township Council had recommended months earlier.

The board's decision, with Otto abstaining, sends the matter to the state Local Finance Board.

"Why didn't you just shove this off on the state to start?" Ashinoff asked.

The three also complained that residents would have to travel to Trenton to hear proceedings on the matter.

But John Harrington, solicitor for the ethics board, predicted that if the Local Finance Board found evidence to pursue the matter, it would appoint an administrative law judge to the case. The judge then could hold hearings in Delran, or at least someplace closer than Trenton, Harrington said.

Gary Daniels, chief of investigation for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, determined last month that DiLauro had broken no state law in the plowing episode.


Board May Dismantle Delran Ethics Panel Township Council Is Set To Start The Action Tonight - 6 Months After The Board Started Its First Case.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-11-23/news/25947925_1_ethics-board-ethics-code-first-case
Posted: November 23, 1993

DELRAN — Six months after it began investigating its first case - a controversial probe of the mayor - the Delran Ethical Standards Board is facing extinction.

Township Council members are scheduled to begin dismantling the board at their meeting tonight.

"In theory, an ethics board is a very good idea," said Anthony Ogozalek Jr., council president. "But in reality, it's costly and it gives a field for political and personal divisiveness."

The board appeared to clear the way for its dissolution when it voted last week to hand over to the state the only two cases before it: the investigation of Mayor Thomas DiLauro and his counter-accusation against former board chairman Joseph Otto.

The complaint that DiLauro violated Delran's ethics law by allegedly ordering town crews to plow snow during a March blizzard from a driveway in the townhouse complex where he lives will now be resolved by the Local Finance Board of the state's Department of Community Affairs.

DiLauro, in turn, accused Otto, who lost a council race this month, of political motives in pursuing the investigation. Otto has denied the charge.

Last month, the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office cleared DiLauro of violating state ethics laws in the incident. The Local Finance Board is expected to rule on whether Delran's ethics code was violated.

For some, sending the issue to the state comes as a welcome end to months of bitter debate. For those who brought the original complaint, it seems a betrayal.

"I don't think when you took this on, you thought it would be easy," John Myers told the ethics board as it decided Nov. 15 to hand the issue off to the state. Myers was one of three people who said they had seen town crews plowing snow from DiLauro's townhouse complex.

"By its nature, the board looks into divisive issues," he said, "and for it to be shuffled off . . . "

Ogozalek said he expected many to speak tonight against disbanding the board. But he said that since the board has no cases before it, he would vote to repeal the ordinance that created it in 1989.

The ethics board held secret discussions Nov. 15 before deciding to go to the state. After the meeting, ethics board chairman Joseph Walsh declined comment on why the discussions were held in secret or on the board's future.

But when the board emerged from behind closed doors to vote, Walsh did summarize the discussion, saying controversy and cost had motivated its decision.

The ethics board has already spent about $3,500. That could have risen to between $15,000 and $20,000 if the proceedings had continued in Delran, according to DiLauro's attorney, Frederick Fitchett 3d.

The state's Local Finance Board has handled 85 local ethics cases since a 1991 law sought to encourage the establishment of local ethics panels by giving them subpoena powers.


Delran's Ethics Board Abolished By Council The First Case Involved The Mayor. Due To Its Cost And Divisiveness, The Probe Was Given To The State.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1993-12-23/news/25940957_1_ethics-board-ethics-violation-local-ethics
Posted: December 23, 1993

DELRAN — From now on, any township official suspected of an ethics violation will have to answer to a higher authority: the State of New Jersey.

Last night, the Township Council voted unanimously to abolish the municipal Ethical Standards Board, an action that reinstates the state as the arbiter of ethical issues involving local officials. That had been the arrangement until 1989, when the Delran council decided it would be preferable to have a local ethics board.

Ironically, it was the first cases brought before the ethics board last summer that paved the way for its demise.

Two months ago, citing the cost of the probe and town divisiveness, the ethics board handed off the case of a controversial investigation into whether Mayor Thomas DiLauro abused his power, as well as a related second case, to the state to resolve. That action seemed to influence the council into seriously considering the abolition of the ethics panel.

The ethics board has acknowledged spending at least $3,500 on the cases, primarily in legal fees. Frederick Fitchett 3d, DiLauro's attorney, said that figure easily could have risen to the $20,000 range if the proceedings had remained under the jurisdiction of the local Ethical Standards Board.

Jay Johnston, a spokesman for the state Department of Consumer Affairs, said the time period for the state to rule on ethical matters is about six months - meaning that the Delran cases probably won't be decided for at least another half a year.

At issue in Delran is whether DiLauro violated administrative laws of ethics when, during the blizzard last March, township crews plowed and sanded the internal driveway of the townhouse complex where he lives.

The Burlington County Prosecutor's Office exonerated DiLauro of violating any criminal laws in October. However, the specter of administrative violations remains.

In addition to the accusation against DiLauro, the state also is considering DiLauro's subsequent allegation that the former chairman of Delran's ethics board, Joseph Otto, pursued the case against DiLauro to help get himself elected to the council in November.

Otto, who lost the election, denies the charge.

Before last night, there were 44 local ethics boards in New Jersey, although not all of them were operating, according to Johnston.

In 1991, a state law created a framework for municipalities to create their own ethics boards. Johnston said state officials were surprised that more municipalities did not move to create their own ethics panels.

"The reality has been that the majority of those towns and counties that have looked at it have said that it incurs a cost (the towns) are not willing to bear," Johnston said.


Taxes, Spending Are The Big Issues In Three Elections The Races Are In Delran, Medford Lakes And Mount Holly. Candidates Are Making Similar Pledges.

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20151016201857/http://articles.philly.com/1994-05-01/news/25829759_1_municipal-building-school-board-member-election
Posted: May 01, 1994

Residents in Delran, Medford Lakes and Mount Holly go to the polls next week to pick municipal officials in nonpartisan elections, and in all three towns voters are hearing pledges to hold the line on taxes and spending.

"Every community I know of is being pinched financially," said Donald J. Hory, a computer firm executive who is among three candidates vying for two four-year terms on the Borough Council in Medford Lakes.

The community of about 5,000 residents is struggling to cope with a stagnant tax base, lack of commercial properties and decreased state aid. The local-purpose tax rate is projected to rise 6 cents, to 60.6 cents, for 1994, meaning the owner of a house assessed at the borough's average of $155,600 would pay $943, up $93 from last year.

Those besides Hory who are seeking election are Gary A. Miller and incumbent David D. Wasson, now the mayor. Councilman Michael Keating is not seeking re-election to the three-member council.

All of the candidates want to cut costs by sharing services with other municipalities and with the school district.

"I think all of us agree that we have to look for innovative ways to cut expenses while seeking more aid from Trenton," said Wasson, vice president for a Moorestown car dealership.

"People here take a real interest in local affairs, and the voter turnout is traditionally high," said Miller, a human services administrator for Burlington County.

*

Delran residents have been asked to spend $19 million on two capital projects this year, and the election to fill three of the five council seats could decide whether they will be asked to spend millions more on a municipal building.

"Everyone acknowledges the present building needs repair," said Mary Diane Duff, president of March Realty in Cinnaminson, who is running for a four-year term in the First Ward. If elected, she said, she would choose between buying a new building and fixing the old one, whichever is cheaper. According to one estimate, fixing and expanding the present building would cost $2 million. Estimates vary on other alternatives.

The Delran School District won voter approval in January for a $7.8 million intermediate school, and the township sewerage authority is spending $11 million to improve the system.

Sewer bills rose 62 percent this year, and that increase was particularly difficult for senior citizens on fixed incomes, Duff said.

Gerald Savidge, 38, a business owner who opposes Duff in the First Ward, said he was a "non-politician" who last ran for anything in the eighth grade. He said he would favor buying a new municipal building "at the right price."

Robert Sheeran, who is running in the Second Ward, pointed to his record of budget-tightening as a school board member - including privatizing busing and janitorial services - as proof he would be tough with the municipal budget.

Joseph Holland, 56, also running in the Second Ward, stressed his 39 years of experience in finance as a corporate secretary, and added that as a former director of streets and public safety in Edgewater Park, he could see that Delran needs a better plan for reconstructing streets with drainage problems.

Kenneth Mortimer, 53, a buyer for Martin Marietta in Moorestown, said he was running in the Second Ward because the township's "lack of coordinated planning" had hit residents with several expenditures in the same year. As for the municipal building, he said, "I think I'd like to postpone it and look at all the alternatives."

Brian McDermott, an insurance agent, is also running in the Second Ward. He was not available for comment, but in 1992 he led a campaign that forced a reduction in a proposed sewer rate increase from 42 percent to 25 percent.

James Wujcik, a bank vice president who is the only incumbent running, said his 16 years in business and industry should gain him votes in the Third Ward. He said he favored buying a new municipal building - "if the price is right" - rather than spending an estimated $500,000 simply to bring the old building up to code without solving the chronic space problems of the Police Department.

Barbara Gallagher, running against Wujcik, said: "I'm not a politician. I'm a Delran resident who loves Delran - I've lived here for 21 years." She said voters aren't solely interested in tough talk on taxes, noting that residents have backed school budgets because the district is run well.

In Mount Holly, the issue on the lips of all five candidates is one that residents bring up at virtually every council meeting: the growing number of tax-exempt properties.

As the county seat, the township is home to a large number of tax-exempt government and social-service agencies, which account for nearly 28 percent of the town's property value.

That increases the burden on Mount Holly homeowners, who last year paid 69.3 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation in local-purpose taxes, the second-highest rate in the county behind Willingboro's 84.3 cents.

Candidates say the high number of social-service agencies also leads to a high crime rate. All five feel the problem could be improved by stricter enforcement of zoning ordinances and by seeking donations from nonprofit groups.

There are two slates of two candidates and one solo office-seeker running for two four-year terms on the five-member council.

Incumbent Dorothy P. Guzzo is running with former Councilman Gary Wilson, while Robert Byham and Jules Thiessen are running together. Jason Huf is running by himself.

Wilson, 43, owns Wilson's Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning in Mount Holly. He ran unsuccessfully for council in May 1992 after temporarily filling an unexpired term. Among his civic contributions, he lists past service with the Police Department, the Zoning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission.

Guzzo, 35, is a historic-site planner for the Division of Parks and Forestry at the state Department of Environmental Protection and Energy. She was elected to the council in November 1992. Among her achievements, she lists her work on the committee to find a new township manager, the cleanup of Island Creek Park, and her work to seek Green Acres funds for Monroe Street Park.

Byham, 34, is a Mount Laurel police officer and a captain of the America Emergency Squad in Mount Holly. Byham, a former chairman of the Planning Board, said his experience as a police officer would help the town crack down on crime.

Thiessen, 36, is a regional sales manager for AnalytiKEM, an environmental- testing laboratory in Cherry Hill. He serves on the Planning Board and the local neighborhood watch, and is vice chairman of the local branch of the Rancocas Conservancy environmental group. Byham and Thiessen are supported by Councilmen James Logan 3d and Glynn Eckart.

Huf, 21, is a stocker at the Wal-Mart in Burlington Township, and was on the Mount Holly Parks and Recreation Committee from 1991 through 1993. He criticized the current administration for not curbing taxes, and advocated stepping up police foot patrols downtown.


Voters Today Face Choices In Area, A.c.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1994-05-10/news/25830100_1_nonpartisan-elections-voters-business-district
Posted: May 10, 1994

After three years of raging debate, Haddonfield voters will decide today on the fate of the borough's controversial Special Improvement District (SID) ordinance, which would raise taxes on commercial properties to support promotions and attract business to the downtown area.

Meanwhile, Atlantic City voters will decide today whether to re-elect Mayor James Whelan or choose a new mayor from a field of four others.

And voters in the nonpartisan towns of Gloucester Township, Delran, Medford Lakes, Mount Holly and Pine Valley will also elect mayors and council members.

No one in Haddonfield is predicting how the vote will go on SID. While the controversy has raged mainly within the business district and at borough meetings, many of the local residents, who will not be taxed, seem to be a little unsure of what the whole thing is about.

SID advocates - mainly the leaders of the borough's Business and Professional Association, who thus far have been unable to find a reliable means of funding business activities - contend that SID is necessary to preserve the economic health of the borough's downtown.

They say it would allow them to improve parking, publicize the district, recruit new businesses and install amenities such as public telephones and benches.

SID adversaries - chiefly professionals with offices in the central business district - contend that an additional tax is unwarranted and that voluntary efforts could bring about the same results.

Meanwhile, in Atlantic City, Whelan, 45, who was elected in 1990, is facing four challengers: Kaleem Shabazz, Walter Palmer, Lorenzo Langford and Kim D. Fioriglio.

Whelan must receive 51 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off election on June 14. And that may be difficult, even for Whelan, the first mayor in some years to avoid any scandals while in office.

A former teacher, Whelan served two terms as a member of City Council before being elected to the mayor's office. His campaign has raised about $137,000 that has been spent on media consultants and the polling of voters about issues such as creating jobs, turning Atlantic City into a family resort and curbing crime.

City voters usually have voted along racial lines, which could spell trouble for Whelan, who is white. Approximately 60 percent of the 17,000 registered voters in the city of 37,000 residents are non-white. Three of the five candidates are African American.

Although 87 municipalities around the state hold nonpartisan elections on the theory that partisan politics have no place in local affairs, many towns are no-partisan in name only.

The only requirements of nonpartisan elections are that no political affiliation may be used on campaign literature or on the ballot, and that the election be held in May.


Delran Council To Pick A Temporary Mayor After A Flap Over A Bogus Handicapped-parking Sticker, Mayor Thomas Dilauro Has Resigned.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1997-05-09/news/25564561_1_handicapped-parking-sticker-new-mayor-temporary-mayor
Posted: May 09, 1997

DELRAN — Following the abrupt resignation of Mayor Thomas DiLauro over a counterfeit handicapped-parking sticker, the Township's Council president yesterday announced that a temporary mayor would be chosen by council within the next month and a half, to serve until a new mayor can be elected in November.

Council president Brian McDermott said that council members at the May 21 township meeting would discuss nominees to replace DiLauro, who resigned on Wednesday following revelations that he had used a fake sticker, allegedly to park at his workplace in Philadelphia.

McDermott said council would select a resident to begin serving as mayor the day after DiLauro's resignation takes effect on June 30. In the November election, a new mayor will be chosen to serve the remaining three years of DiLauro's term.

McDermott called DiLauro's resignation unfortunate but added it was ``the appropriate action following the embarrassment of the township.''

DiLauro's alleged use of the sticker was revealed after a television news crew videotaped him in Philadelphia getting into his 1996 Mercury Villager, which bore the sticker. The Mercury is registered in New Jersey.

Last month DiLauro relinquished the counterfeit handicapped-parking sticker to state police. DiLauro is not disabled.

Angry residents had repeatedly called the township office to complain after the news segment about handicapped parking violators aired on a Philadelphia TV station two weeks ago. Last week a group of handicapped protesters gathered outside the Delran Municipal Building calling for DiLauro's resignation and/or apology.

DiLauro offered to volunteer his time with the Burlington County Special Olympics, and said he would participate in the ``dunk tank'' during Delran Appreciation Day.

But that did not appease his critics. DiLauro, a Republican elected in 1992, resigned via letter Wednesday night. The statement was read by councilman Jim Wujcik.

In his letter, DiLauro wrote: ``I made an error, but some members of the community could not find it in their hearts to forgive me.'' He said he endured humiliation and constant hammering from Pamela Reid, director of Resources for Independent Living, a Mount Laurel-based group that monitors handicapped issues.

Reid said yesterday that her organization ``never intended to be adversarial.''

``All we wanted was accountability,'' Reid said. ``Now the healing process can begin.''

Resident Jon Hewko had been prepared to circulate a petition at the Wednesday meeting requesting DiLauro's ouster.

``I'm glad he has stepped down,'' Hewko said yesterday. ``He put a black eye on Delran.''

McDermott said the township would investigate DiLauro for ethics violations. Council tabled a resolution that would have denounced DiLauro publicly.

According to New Jersey State Police, DiLauro used the sticker to park near the Conrail office at 20th and Market Streets in Philadelphia. State police had been contacted by a news team from WPVI-TV (Channel 6) that was reporting on people who park illegally in spaces for the handicapped. State police said DiLauro turned in the counterfeit sticker to investigators on April 9.

New Jersey State Police did not charge DiLauro because the alleged violation was in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia police and the city Parking Authority did not bring charges against DiLauro because they did not catch him in the act, state police said.

The sticker had a registration number that police said was traced to a Toms River woman who still had the original.

DiLauro told investigators that the sticker was handmade, but he did not say who made it, how he obtained it, or how long he had been using it, state police said.

Last month, the state Local Finance Board found DiLauro guilty of violating an ethics law for ordering municipal employees to plow and sand the parking lot of his condominium complex during a snowstorm in 1993. He was ordered to pay a $100 fine.

The latest allegation is especially troubling to some residents, as Delran was sued in 1994 by a handicapped man who contended that the municipality discriminated against people with disabilities because the Municipal Building was inaccessible and the township did not have curb cuts on streets. Delran and the man settled the case for $10,500 last year.

The township is building another municipal building that will exceed the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

``Perhaps this situation will make us all more sensitive to the needs of the handicapped,'' McDermott said.


Delran Residents, Still Seeing Red, Look To A New Day - And Mayor On Appreciation Day, Little Is Shown For The Embattled Dilauro.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1997-05-19/news/25564370_1_disabled-residents-interim-mayor-township-office
Posted: May 19, 1997

DELRAN — For some participants, Saturday's Delran Appreciation Day was just another festival of games, food and parades. For others, it marked the beginning of a community's healing itself.

``The residents really needed a positive day like this,'' Township Council President Brian McDermott said. ``Hopefully, as a community, we can put what has happened behind us and move on.''

Earlier this month, Mayor Thomas DiLauro resigned, effective June 30, after news reports that he had used a counterfeit handicapped-parking sticker at his workplace in Philadelphia.

Council will name an interim mayor the day after the resignation takes effect. In November, voters will elect a mayor to serve the remaining three years of the term.

DiLauro's use of the sticker was revealed when a television news crew videotaped him getting into his 1996 Mercury Villager, which bore the sticker. The Mercury is registered in New Jersey. Last month, DiLauro, who is not disabled, relinquished the sticker to state police.

Residents repeatedly called the township office to complain after the news segment about handicapped-parking violators aired on WPVI-TV (Channel 6) last month. Protesters gathered outside the Delran Municipal Building and called for DiLauro's resignation and apology.

DiLauro apologized for the incident, offered to volunteer his time to the Burlington County Special Olympics, and promised to participate in the ``dunk tank'' during Delran Appreciation Day. That did little to appease his critics. The Republican mayor, elected in 1992, resigned via letter at the May 7 council meeting.

Wrote DiLauro: ``I made an error, but some members of the community could not find it in their hearts to forgive me.''

Saturday, it seemed time still had not healed the wounds.

``If he had been in the parade, I would have booed him,'' resident Dan Pollak, 37, said at the festival. ``What he did was inappropriate, and his offering to be dunked to make amends was a joke.''

Pamela Reid, director of Resources for Independent Living, a Mount Laurel-based group that monitors issues of interest to the handicapped, set up an information booth at the festival. Her group was instrumental in DiLauro's ouster.

``All we wanted was accountability,'' Reid said. ``Now the healing process can begin.''

Some members of the community disagreed.

``What he did was wrong, and he admitted it,'' said Paul Jackson, pastor of Calvary Temple Assembly of God. ``But I am afraid that the town has run someone out of office who really did care about this community.''

Still others saw the township as permanently scarred.

``He made Delran look bad,'' Sharri Bodnar, 44, said. ``He should have resigned a long time ago.''

The controversy was not the first involving Delran and its disabled residents. In 1994, William Caruso sued the township, contending that it discriminated against people with disabilities because the Municipal Building was inaccessible and the streets did not have curb cuts.

The case was settled for $10,500 last year, and the township is building a municipal building that is to exceed the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

DiLauro, meanwhile, has known other troubles while in office. Last month, the state Local Finance Board found him guilty of having violated an ethics law by ordering municipal employees to plow and sand his condominium complex's parking lot during a snowstorm in 1993. He was fined $100.


Delran To Pick Mayor Who May Stay For A While The Town Has Had Four Mayors Since May 1997. The Winner Of Tuesday's Election Should Serve Until 2000.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/1998-10-30/news/25760169_1_mayor-nonpartisan-election-supporter-of-light-rail
Posted: October 30, 1998

DELRAN — The job with the highest turnover rate over the past 18 months in the municipal government has been, in fact, mayor, town officials say.

Since May 1997, Delran has had four mayors: One resigned after he was caught using a counterfeit handicapped-parking sticker on his car; another resigned to become a police officer; a third was appointed as an interim by the Township Council; and the current mayor, the 78-year-old Albert Fynan, said he will not seek reelection.

With Fynan stepping down, three candidates are vying for the office that will be decided in a nonpartisan election on Tuesday.

The winner would complete the four-year term of Thomas DiLauro, who resigned after the handicapped-parking fiasco. The term will end in May 2000. Council members said the high turnover rate of mayors has not affected day-to-day operations, but they added they would be relieved once a sense of permanence is brought back to the office.

While the election will be nonpartisan, each candidate has political leanings. Candidate Kenny Johnson Jr. received substantial financial contributions from the Delran Republican Party, while opponent Randall Stevens is backed by the town's Democratic Party. A third candidate, Kenneth Mortimer, is a registered Republican, but said he did not receive any contributions from his party.

``Anybody who really follows the election knows who's who,'' said Stevens, 38, a truck driver. ``A guy should be elected on his merits, on what he's done and what he believes in, not just by party labels, but I guess that's a pipe dream.''

Stevens' decision to run for mayor developed out of his fight against the $450 million South Jersey light-rail project, which he said is wrongly supported by businesses and towns along the Delaware River.

This is the second time Stevens is running a campaign; he has never held public office. In May, he ran for Township Council but lost to Johnson, a popular retired police officer.

Johnson, 58, who is a supporter of light rail, is running on a platform of helping the community's senior citizens and, like his opponents, pledges to avoid increases in local taxes. He said that as mayor, he would try to build a community center that would be open to all members of the community, particularly for the elderly.

``I've always thought the town is need of leadership,'' Johnson said. ``Because I'm retired, I will have the time to devote and do the job. Even though technically it's a part-time job, you can't do it if you can't really devote yourself - if you work another job and then try to be mayor.''

Mortimer, 57, who is on the sales staff of Lockheed Martin, also ran in May's Township Council elections, but lost to incumbent Councilman Bryan McDermott, who was backed by the Republican Party.

``In this town, the major need is for preservation of open space and to keep the local purpose tax down by vying for federal, state and county grants,'' Mortimer said.


Delran Seeking A Mayor - Again Communication And Parks Top The List Of Issues For The Current Candidates. The Township Has Filled The Post Six Times Since 1996.

Source: http://articles.philly.com/2000-04-30/news/25590559_1_regular-election-council-members-council-seats
Posted: April 30, 2000

DELRAN — It hardly seems like news to say that residents here will be getting a new mayor after the May 9 municipal elections.

Since the last regular election in 1996, six men have held the post - and one of them has served twice.

Thomas DiLauro, who was elected to a second term in 1996, resigned after he was caught using a counterfeit handicapped parking sticker on his car. Council President Gerald Savidge took his place briefly until Anthony Ogozalek Jr. was appointed to serve until a special election was held. Ogozalek won that election but decided a few months later that he would rather work for Delran than run Delran and left office to take a job as a patrolman for the township. Albert Fynan, the current mayor, was appointed to fill the slot until a special election was held. Kenneth Johnston Jr. won that election and served until his death last winter, when Council President Bert Hermansky stepped in until the council appointed Fynan to serve again until the regular election on May 9.

"It would be laughable," said mayoral candidate Gary Catrambone, if it weren't for Johnston's death due to a heart attack.

Catrambone is running with council candidates Patricia Kunasz and Michael Chinnici on a platform of, among other things, communication with residents and a townshipwide plan for a central recreation area with an intergenerational focus and open space preservation. None of the three longtime Delran residents has held office in the township.

They are challenging current council member Joe Stellwag for mayor and current Council President Hermansky and Planning Board Chair Ken Mortimer for council seats. Stellwag and his slate of candidates are running on what they say is already a successful administration in the township and a five-point plan to control property taxes that involves forming a committee with representatives from the local school board, fire commissioners and sewerage authority to share services.

Catrambone, 42, said he got involved in township politics when someone dropped a flyer at his house about abolishing the Delran Sewerage Authority. In discussions on that issue, Catrambone said he found council members and authority members reluctant to talk and unwilling to disseminate information.

Increasing that communication through interactive Web sites and discussions with residents is high on his agenda.

"Everybody doesn't feel like it's 'our Delran,' " he said.

Stellwag said the council has tried to smooth over any tension between the sewerage authority and residents.

The townshipwide recreation plan that Catrambone's slate proposes, Stellwag said, is similar to a plan that was voted down by residents several years ago. Instead of trying to create one central park, council members have been concentrating on fixing up numerous neighborhood parks and adding hockey rinks and playgrounds around the township, he said.

"We're taking one park at a time and upgrading the whole park," he said.

Lauren Mayk's e-mail address is lmayk@phillynews.com

No comments: