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Council Fires Back at Business Administrator and Mayor

Fred Carr: "We are now in the discussion of ending programs and services"

PARSIPPANY — In an interoffice email from Parsippany-Troy Hills Business Administrator Fred Carr to “Department and Division Heads” he is quoted as saying “Based on our ongoing budget discussions, the time has come to take the following actions with regards to the 2021 yet to be introduced budget.” Effective immediately.

In order to provide a balanced budget recommendation as requested by the members of Council: 

  1. Most capital spending will be reduced/deferred until 2022, details to follow.
  2. All scheduled overtime will cease. Unscheduled overtime as a result of emergencies needs to be closely controlled.
  3. All Professional education or attendance at training, seminars, unless required by Collective Bargaining will cease. Individuals may choose to attend class or professional development at their own expense if desired, but the Township will be unable to reimburse them.
  4. Attendance at the NJ League of Municipalities will not be reimbursed by the Township.  This includes entry badges, hotels, meals, or travel expenses. This includes members of Boards and Commissions (aka planning and zoning, etc. plus all employees, Mayor and Council Members).  Individuals may choose to attend the convention at their own expense.
  5. We are in a hiring freeze and promotional freeze,  wherever additional compensation is considered, effective immediately. Minor hiring allowed in Recreations to support summer programs starting soon can move forward.

Juan (referring to CFO Juan Uribe) and I will be meeting with selected Department Heads this week to fine-tune our numbers. Get out your pencils, sharpen them, and be prepared for considerable pain. We are now in the discussion of ending programs and services.

The Township Council did not request the budget cuts or create the budget shortfall that this Administration

Council President Michael dePierro

Council President Michael dePierro said “I just became aware of a June 21 email that was recently sent to all Township Department Heads by our Business Administrator that misrepresents a list of five very severe budget cuts developed BY THE ADMINISTRATION as being requested by the Township Council in order to balance the budget. This sends a wrong message to our employees and to the public. The Township Council did not request the budget cuts or create the budget shortfall that this Administration finds itself in … this falls upon the Administration. In producing the Township budget, the Administration must follow State mandates. The State of New Jersey mandates that all Municipalities produce:

  • A balanced budget (revenue equals expenses).
  • A budget that remains within the State mandated CAP.
  • A budget that follows the Appropriations CAP.
  • A budget that falls within the Levy CAP.

“As of June 22, the Township Council has not received a budget that is certified by the Township Auditor. The Auditor cannot certify the budget until the budget meets all of the State mandates. When the Administration finally submits a certified budget to the Council, we can then review the budget, make changes (if needed), and finally adopt it.”

“If the Administration is looking for advice on areas to cut, I would recommend all of the new, administrative positions that have been created in the past three years. The salary, pension, and benefits of many of those positions exceed six figures.”

“As I stated in a previously issued memo, “During a Mayor’s first year in office, he can blame the previous administration for almost anything and get away with it. During the second year, not so much. By the third year, the Mayor owns the budget and any poor fiscal practices are completely on him. If the Mayor has not started developing a Fund Balance to protect the Township in the last three years, that omission falls on him,” continued dePierro.”

“At the June 15 Council meeting, the Township Council gave the Business administrator a mandate. The Business Administrator distributed an email to department heads reflecting tax increases and budget cuts that would meet the Council’s demands. Since early May, Council President Michael dePierro has advocated for a 14.6% tax increase and felt that this was more suitable to Parsippany residents than borrowing on a low-interest special emergency note. As Mayor, I’m open to any discussion that doesn’t involve the Council’s astronomical tax hike.” said Mayor Michael Soriano.

Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr.

Councilman Paul Carifi, Jr. said “Months ago the council was presented with a budget by the administration that did not meet state regulations including but not limited to things that were listed as revenues that are not and can not be used as revenues. Therefore making it a “bogus” budget. The budget was deemed by the auditor and the state as to be in violation. Therefore the council requested the administration provide a budget that meets all state regulations. To say the council wants to raise taxes by 14% is ludicrous. We expect a budget from the administration that keeps a tax increase within the 2% cap and that meets all state regulations that we can review. Recently the council became aware of a directive to department heads addressing budget cuts. We have also become aware of an employee in the Mayor’s office and his administration receiving a new title and a $20,000 raise just before the memo to all department heads directing a hiring freeze, a cease in promotions, and overtime amongst other things.  The timing of the memo just after this promotion and raise is again ludicrous. I support all our hard-working employees and to blame this budget crisis on the council and to take it out on our employees is not right and will not be tolerated.

Mayor Soriano blames the Township Council for the severe budget cuts that he must make, then he blames me for wanting a 14.6 % increase

dePierro replied in a Facebook post “I just read a preposterous statement made by Mayor Michael Soriano that “I advocated for a 14.6 % tax increase, and felt that this was more suitable to Parsippany residents than borrowing on a low-interest special emergency note”. The truth is, the unanimous Council decision not to borrow $5 million is that the taxpayers would have to pay back $1 million per year for five years plus interest. The Mayor had no idea how the Township would pay back that loan, he just wanted to kick the can down the road and get past this election year. First Mayor Soriano blames the Township Council for the severe budget cuts that he must make, then he blames me for wanting a 14.6 % increase. He takes no blame for the budget crisis that he, alone, is responsible for.”

“Regarding your June 21, 2021 email to the Department Heads, it is misleading to associate the five action items, determined and supported by the Administration, to reduce appropriations as if those actions were at the request of the Town Council. There is no reason to even mention the Town Council in your email. A balanced budget is collectively required by the State of NJ, Township Auditor, and Town Council. In order to avoid any misinterpretation, please send an email to the Department Heads clarifying your statement. Please include or send separately a copy of your email to Loretta Gragnani and me with a copy to Khaled Madin,” stated Vice President Janice McCarthy.

Business Administrator Fred Carr responded to Ms. McCarthy “Thank you for the email with regards to the 2021 Budget. I am aware that ” A balanced budget is collectively required by the State of NJ, Township Auditor, and Town Council.”  The Council, during the meeting of  15 June 2021 asked that administration work with the Auditor and provide a balanced budget.”

When asking Mr. Carr if clarification was sent to the Department Heads, he replied I know that a clarification was not sent.

Council Vice President Loretta Gragnani

Council Vice President Loretta Gragnani said “As a member of the Finance Committee at no time during those meetings and Council Meetings were recommendations made to the budget. Currently, the Council has not received a balanced budget from the Administration and until one is received by the Council all revisions and recommendations are the responsibility of the Administration.”

“The budget has not been presented to the council. Until that happens, no budget decisions are at the command or recommendation of the Council. That decision-making responsibility sits solely with the administration until the decisions are complete. As I have said before: I look forward to seeing the Mayor’s completed budget at which time, the council will review the completed presentation,” said Councilwoman Emily Peterson.

Frank L. Cahill
Frank L. Cahill
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President of Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town and Chairman of Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board.
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