Manchester Gets Good Grade On Audit

Manchester Town Hall (Photo by Micromedia Publications)

  MANCHESTER – The 2022 audit of the town’s finances went well with only one item in which the township’s auditor and financial staff would have to address, officials said during a recent Township Council meeting.

  The audit involves a review of each department’s revenue and their transactions including payroll and vouchers.

  “We try to look at every aspect of the township,” said auditor Andy Zabiega from the firm Samuel Klein and Company. “The purpose of the audit is to form an opinion on your financial statements as presented to us and I am happy to say that based on a review of your records we issued an unmodified opinion – which basically states that there were no potential mis-postings.”

  “Surpluses in township utilities in the current fund are healthy and debt service is relatively low for the size of this municipality. Each municipality in New Jersey is allowed three and a half percent of their average equalized evaluations to issue debt and I am happy to say that Manchester is at .45 so you still have a way to go.”

  Zabiega said there was only one recommendation made. “It relates to the municipal court. There is a monthly report that the court administrator must follow and on there are certain items as far as tickets being issued by police. The administrative office of the courts likes to see those tickets returned on a six-month basis and then reissued to police officers.”

  “Every police officer has a book of tickets. They leave them on the dashboard and some use them quite well and others not as well. There is a procedure that they are supposed to return them and then reissue them,” he explained further.

  “We came across 195 tickets issued over 181 days so that procedure didn’t happen. Now with the volume of tickets that is relatively low but we have to comment on because we have no judgement in this area,” he added.

  The Council passed a corrective action plan to address this matter during the meeting.

Energy Plans

  Judy Noonan, speaking as a township resident warned of the potential loss of services to senior residents of the state. “It is time to stand up and push back because they want to take everything away from us.”

  She said that Governor Phil Murphy “wants us to become like California,” in regards to proposals to build off shore windmills that she said would hurt aquatic life such as whales while not providing sufficient power.

  “People need to start paying attention. We’ve been very fortunate. Where we live is like a little bubble here but we have more serious things coming down. It is time for people to stand up,” she added.

  She thanked the governing body for passing an ordinance concerning the State Board of Public Utilities opposing the governor’s Energy Master Plan. This would reflect New Jersey’s updated climate goals and the impacts of recent state and federal policies that would accelerate the state’s transition to a 100% clean energy economy.

  Murphy established the State’s Energy Master Plan with Executive Order No. 28, which directed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to lead the development of the 2019 EMP as a statewide blueprint to achieve a 100% clean energy economy by 2050 while meeting offshore wind development and energy storage goals through a least-cost pathway.

  “The people at the top don’t care about the little guys,” she added, noting that a petition had started.

Undersized Lots

  Resident Alice DeVito brought up people building homes on undersized lots. She suggested that the town create a fund to preserve open space. The fund would be paid for by a fee every time a house is built or sold.

  In regards to a question about building in Pine Lake Park, Mayor Robert Arace said he was opposed to building on undersized lots “but there are certain things that make it difficult. We can’t necessarily say to an owner you can’t use it for anything – it has to be for the best use. What we are trying to do is trying to ensure that they get as close to conforming as possible.”

  He said that in some cases the property owner could buy an adjacent lot and make a single buildable lot.

  “In some cases, we’ll take a 75 x 100 but that still has to go to the zoning board. The Zoning Board still has to provide input. With an undersized they still have to make certain setbacks.” The mayor said the Zoning Board has to look at flooding and drainage issues.