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Mayor Says Stafford Will Have a 'Rough' 2013 After Sandy

Tax appeals, infrastructure repairs and decrease in municipal utilities usage revenue will have to be overcome.

Calling it a case of “the good, the bad and the ugly,” Stafford Mayor John Spodofora said 2013 will be a rough one for the township at last Thursday’s meeting.

“The good was the people,” he said. "We were very blessed with employees, who worked tirelessly and then came back to volunteer more of their time; neighbors helping neighbors clean up and gut their homes or work in the shelters and relief center and volunteers that came from all over the country to help after Sandy."

The bad, he said, "were the few people who - no matter what we did - felt it was not enough, but they were few and far between."

But it was the ugly - the damage caused by the storm - that is going to make 2013 a “rough year,” said Spodofora.

The current tax base is certain to drop with an estimated 4500 homes and business having their current assessments adjusted due to the damage they suffered, said Spodofora.

The township is making blanket reassessments in some areas, but individual property owners are encouraged to file appeals with the tax assessor’s office, he said.

Forms and instructions are available at the assessor’s office, but the deadline to file an appeal is Jan. 10, said Business Administrator James Moran.

A reduction in revenue is not an option at this point as the township suffered severe infrastructure damage to roads, bayfront areas, the Beach Haven West Community Center and the water and sewer system among other areas, said the mayor.

That tax revenue will probably need to be made up with rate increases on the rest of the taxpayers, the mayor said after the meeting. “Until the township can bounce back, and I am sure it will, there needs to be some type of increase to keep us going,” he said.

In addition, the township could still be responsible for nearly $7M of clean up costs, he added. County officials and Gov. Christie’s office are appealing to FEMA to cover the entire clean-up, but at this point they are only committed to 75% of the cost.

The FEMA-subsidized clean up will ending shortly, said Moran. “All debris needs to be out to the curb by Jan. 3 for the last pass of the clean up,” he said. After that, property owners will be responsible for the cost of removal.

Water and sewer rates are also likely to rise as the user base is decreasing with damaged properties disconnecting from the system by “cutting and capping” their lines at the meter, said Spodofora.

At the same time, the township’s utility has to replace the pumping stations on Cedar Bonnet Island and Mallard Island/Mud City that were destroyed by Sandy. Currently, crews are using pump out trucks to provide septic services for those residents, added Moran.  

“We have bonded $885,000 for the project and will need to wait for FEMA to reimburse us 75% of the cost,” said Moran, who also heads the municipal water and sewer authority.

Spodofora said he is certain that Stafford will come back stronger and better going forward. "Beach Haven West and other areas will be rebuilt and our infrastucture will be restored," he said.

mr henry December 31, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Questioning how the Tax dollars are being spent and how the goverment is doing Business doe not make anyone "Bad" , it makes them an American. Not being able to answer those questions well that is bad..
Harry Stirpitz December 31, 2012 at 04:40 PM
So the storm that happened in October is going to be blamed for the entire sewer and water rate hike? How quickly we forgot that a study was authorized inAugust 2012 and showed a multimillion dollar shortfall in rate revenues. But, lets forget about the facts because we now have a scapegoat called Superstorm Sandy. These guys wouldn't know to tell the full truth if their lives depended on it.
Sal Sorce December 31, 2012 at 11:22 PM
What's the status of the Ocean Acres project. Just before the election, there was a great deal of emphasis on the flooding in a specific area along an area that should not have been developed to the extent it was. Keep in mind, The Block Team ran things for over 27-years. Approved development in those areas and actually approved basements that have been the subject of residents getting flooded out on a regular basis. Beach Haven West with all the density and development for so many years is now the subject of a huge expense that will impact each and every home owner in Stafford. A joke and those who built their homes in such a flood zone. Yeah, we'll hear the usual Super Storm Sandy for years to come ... the infrastructure as stated is 40- 50-years old. Who was minding the store, what incremental replacements could have been done over the years ... NOW add the up coming expenses to property taxes, water and sewer costs. I cannot see how the seniors in Stafford can afford those prospective increases the recent increase was hit hard ... $$$$$$$$$$$$ Bonding Debt is huge in over $150 MILLION. The number of summer home owners is in the thousands ... second homes are not covered by FEMA ... no decks, stairs ramps, bulkheads, sheds and non main living structures are covered. Did anyone notify any of those who left for the winter ... the clock is running out!!!! $$$$$$$
Sal Sorce December 31, 2012 at 11:29 PM
It's going to be difficult to sell any homes even those that were built properly and above a reasonable flood level ... 9 feet off grade? Doubt that will be the requirement ... With the amount of reconstruction, going on be aware of who is promoting reconstruction ... some of those actually built the very homes that you all got sucker into buying ... free basement bonus etc. Check the files on who built YOUR home ... it's all there for the records. Should be the first step before signing any contract's. You could end up having the same builder?
Lin Pro January 01, 2013 at 10:20 AM
Good points Sal ,although most of the people that built Beach Haven west are either dead and gone or so Damn old they dont drive nails anymore...They could be the same guy that approved the building and zoning issues along the way and allowed it to be built the way it exists today but the actual nail driving boys doing the building..nahh not from the 70s...
NavyE9r January 01, 2013 at 09:29 PM
The really bad; Stafford Mayor John Spodofora was not only the featured in the Navy Times for being a Navy SEAL Imposter and embellisher of service in Vietnam with a fabricated Vietnam Medal of Valor. Stafford NJ Mayor John Spodofora has been recognized as one of the top charlatans in the Nation as he is now in the 2012 Military Times Hall of Stolen Valor! http://militarytimes.com/projects/hallofstolenvalor/ While it is not against the law to lie yet, it surely isn't against the law to tell the truth: Stolen Valor is a plague that has grossly effected our Nation where the integrity, respect and honor given to our servicemembers must be preserved from those who seek any measure of profit by deceit. Now a prime example has occured in our very town. I as a veteran and citizen of Stafford encourage every citizen regardless of political affiliation, alliance or allegiance to read this article and understand how much damage is being done by these miscreants, phonies and frauds that there measure are being taken and the voting records thus far have been in overwhelming support! God Bless our service members who serve honorably and honestly.
NavyE9r January 01, 2013 at 09:29 PM
http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/military-senate-passes-revised-stolen-valor-act-120312/
NavyE9r January 01, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Well said and it's been proven by our Mayor who can't even be honest with himself with his military service.
Harry Stirpitz January 01, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Sal, those poor people in Ocean Acres were just victims of very obvious political pandering prior to the election. They didn't have a chance of getting their drainage problems fixed then, and they sure ain't gonna get anything fixed now. Another situation caused during the 26 year Spodofora era, and another unfixed problem that will be blamed on the Super storm Sandy
Sal Sorce January 02, 2013 at 12:25 AM
Suggest the township form a new Taxpayers Association. Create a website with the information that lacks transparency on our existing website ... all public notices should be a direct link on the site. Many folks have given up their hard copy newspapers so what good are the current PUBLIC NOTICES IF THEY ARE NOT SEE OR READ BY TAXPAYING RESIDENTS? Due to the lack of reactive and real response to many of the points raised during township council meetings, most of all is swept under the rug ... a report card was something I had wanted to create when TOMA's existed ... that group was a total waste that turned on the taxpayers ... folded with over $10grand donated to the EMT and Volunteer Fire was honorable but the actions and work done over the many years was a gift to Carl Block and his team ... some towns on LBI have taxpayers associations ... with the huge issues and population WHY doesn't Stafford have one??? My guess they fear government more than usual ... notice how Moran has all the answers while little is said by several others (except perhaps for Mancini?) on was under the impression a council had all the same information or are their jobs just part time volunteer stuff ... not to address the facts or challenge a point or two? Interesting how they resemble the solid partisan BLOCK TEAM? And he has been gone for well over 3-years ... or has he left the room??? WELCOME 2013 SPODAFORA TEAM ... GOOD LUCK FIXING THIS MESS.
Sal Sorce January 02, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Paying over $10,000 in property taxes, with many paying around $5-6,000 per year ... what evil lurks in the darkness of our local government?? Why was there no real oversight on development in compromised areas ... MUD CITY, MALLARD ISLAND ... CEDAR BONNET ... why do we have to pay up for those developing areas .... $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ it's like a raid on everyone's savings accounts? I for one want to know what kind of property taxes will be increased for the Stafford Business Park Development?? Or is the story "payment in lieu of taxes" going to surface again. Does anyone truly understand that gimmick??? What about the loss of our nearly 100 acre parkland for solar? Solar energy that is more costly than projected ... another scam on the citizens of New Jersey ... has any energy $$$$ dollars been saved that factually impacts the taxpayers? Let's see that report data sheet??? The recent 9AM meeting was a total joke with so few attending. BAN ALL EARLY MORNING SESSIONS ... THERE ARE TOO FEW THAT CAN ATTEND A 8 OR 9 AM SPECIAL MEETING. PREVIOUS ARTICLE MENTIONED CFO REPORT ... DID HE SHOW UP??? INCREDIBLE USE OF THE MEDIA ... SLANTED? HMMMMMMMMMMM?????????
Sal Sorce January 02, 2013 at 12:49 AM
I WOULD LIKE TO SEE A REPORT (FACTUAL) BY EACH AND EVERY COUNCIL PERSON ... CUT OUT THE BUTT KISSING SESSIONS, INCLUDING THOSE WHO COME WITH FLOWERS AND WEEPING TEARS TO GIVE THANKS. COUNCIL MEETING SHOULD BE BUSINESS REPORT SESSIONS WITH A HANDOUT NO EXCUSES PLEASE ... FROM WHAT WE HAVE SEEN TOO OFTEN THE REPORTS ARE LESS THAN SUMMARY WORDS THAT DO NOT SUPPORT A WRITTEN DOCUMENT ... ORDINANCES ARE TOO OFTEN POORLY WRITTEN WITH THE LACK OF DETAILS OR THE IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS ... AGENDAS AND REPORTS SHOULD BE AVAILABLE ONE FULL WEEK AHEAD OF SCHEDULED VOTE AND PUBLIC COMMENT SESSIONS OR ARE THEY DONE BY DESIGN TO AVOID PUBLIC GAINING NECESSARY INFORMATION OR DETAILS ... IS THIS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA???
Sal Sorce January 02, 2013 at 12:52 AM
ALL 2013 PUBLIC NOTICES MUST BE POSTED ON OUR TOWNSHIP WEBSITE ... ALONG WITH THE SPECIFIC PDF'S LINKED TO THE NOTICES .... IT'S EASY THIS IS 2013 THE ERA OF TECHNOLOGY ...
Harry Stirpitz January 02, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Transparency in government requires full disclosure from our politicians and there cronies. That means they have to tell the whole truth. That's unlikely to happen in Manahwkin with Spodofora at the helm. Just tell the entire truth to the ratepayers and taxpayers. Tell the whole story, not just little snippets of information. Beleive it or not people are intelligent enough to see through this nonsense.
john colli January 02, 2013 at 06:36 PM
hey sal why dont you sell your surfcity home in the flood zone and donate the money to the seniors, just saying
Sal Sorce January 03, 2013 at 12:34 AM
What's up john colli ... did I hit a nerve??? Are you a member of the several unions it the town??? You suggestion is defined in most union mined members. I successfully battled the AFL-CIO for two years and won .... ultimately after leaving the huge Fortune 500 company they settled their affairs by closing down a very successful division with over 8,000 products (ultimately sold to a European company ... put many folks out of work ... Having a successful career since 1956, I worked hard in the private sector ... never had to rely on the handouts. Having made the decision to have my permanent home Stafford, battled with the town and Kara Homes for about 2-years. Decided to get deeply involved with township matters that have heavily impacted "most residents" or at least those who do not have a lush county or public sector job ... when are folks going to wake up and get into what's costing taxes to rise every year ... if you calculate what my home in Stafford has cost me the taxes come to over $100,000 for the ten years ... taxes are always headed up with the excuses and questionable management of this township ... does anyone question the tax abatement provided Walters Group of entities???? Or do you believe in the "payment in lieu of taxes" reasoning ... time for a few OPRA requests ...
Sal Sorce January 03, 2013 at 12:35 AM
Where's the 2013 Township Calendar???
Sal Sorce January 03, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Should our new government body decide to hang all the blame on the Super Storm Sandy, they will be able to fool the average citizen. 2013 should be a year of putting this new team on record. A- All formal council meetings - agendas should be available 1- full week prior to the actual evening-date-time. 2- all Council meetings should be formal business meetings, all butt kissing session should be on a separate day-time. 3- each member of the council should avoid kissing up to the public on their great volunteer work ... unless it impacts our costs of living in Stafford 4- limit the time the administrator has to cover critical points, of if so publish a formal presentation document- PDF available on our website. 5- All Stafford Council meetings should be monthly business meetings with factual data reports compiled in summary points. 6- Budget reports and performance reports on costs that are against the Budgets ... eliminate the term "OTHER" for any such expenses by department ... in the private sector with the $50 Million budget responsibilities, I had to present both in written and oral form to top group leaders ... 7- CFO should be a key part of this flow of information ... simple stuff and in a PDF format ... 8- A summary report in PDF form, I have a model that is a perfect form available ... let me know if there is interest. NO Charge
john colli January 03, 2013 at 06:56 PM
sal , we do not need you to represent us,thanks but no thanks , you babble. fyi unions built this nation not all are bad. they to have fallen into govt loophole spending. get rid of the unions and we will regress to the life in china with high suicides ,cheap wages ,people living in work dorms and have to install nets around the factory windows because of everybody jumping out. and as for the taxes , you can move to barnegat right up the road from your house and enjoy their taxes with no return what soever on your money. you have a choice nobody is keeping you hostage. and furthermore i do not have a union job.
Sal Sorce January 04, 2013 at 03:35 PM
John Colli. Many salaries in the township including pensions, sick day payouts, comp days, healthcare benefits. Seniors who were led to believe this was an area and township to live out their retirement years found out quickly that the township run by a solid Ocean County GOP connection. I became a Conservative Republican in 1969 when it was quite obvious it was possible to work in the Pharmaceutical business WITHOUT any union (except for loading dock teamsters). It was a love of a job that lasted 18-years, prepared me to earn enough to never rely on a UNION to drive my job or performance. John Colli, I do not need you to tell me what I should do in representing facts that should be at least a basic task ... to keep the elected officials on their toes. Read about other towns Toms River battle over Ritacco criminal actions over so many years ... reorganization and new legal representation "baffoons" was used by a resident when first session was conducted ... HMMMMMMMM looking forward to doing my best to inform the residents of Stafford ... Is the 2013 Calendar out yet????

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