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Guest george martin

didn't see this posted here today, but just in case you all missed it it was in today's jersey journal:

Mangin points to surplus, vows to force vote on bonding

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

By Rose Duger

Journal correspondent

KEARNY - Third Ward Councilman James Mangin says he's found 1.8 million reasons to oppose the administration's proposed $2.4 million bond ordinance.

Mangin uncovered $1.8 million in unspent funds from a $3.1 million bond issued two years ago for repairs to Kearny Avenue. He says that surplus should be used before the town floats the new bonds, aimed at paying for capital projects, and has launched a petition drive to halt their sale.

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At a council meeting last week, the governing body adopted the new bond ordinance, which is earmarked for a number of capital projects with usable life spans of five years or more. Mangin cast the only dissenting vote.

Mangin contends that while the ordinance does include some projects with the required life spans, a portion of the bond funding will be used to pay for tools and supplies such as Pine Sol and paint for the Department of Public Works.

On Sunday, Mangin supplied The Jersey Journal with a bond sale document listing $3.1 million as the cost for the repaving project. He also produced a year-end audit for fiscal year 2003 and a capital budget account status dated Jan. 20 listing $1.8 million remaining from the project in town accounts.

Mayor Al Santos initially said the town only bonded for $1.2 million in 2002 through the state Urban Enterprise Zone for the Kearny Avenue work because the project came in significantly lower than expected.

After examining the documents, however, Santos acknowledged that Mangin "did find something," and now says that the town did indeed bond for the full $3.1 million.

But proceeds from the bond sale, including the remaining $1.8 million, must be earmarked for projects approved by the state UEZ, the mayor said.

"In my opinion, I don't think the mayor realizes how much his administration has borrowed and the fact that these old ordinances have new money in them," Mangin said, noting that proceeds left over from bonded projects are transferred to the town's surplus account. "We didn't do that with this expenditure. I'm guessing that the reason we didn't do that is because it's so big."

The town plans to petition the state to use the funding for the third phase of the Streetscape project, which is giving the Kearny Avenue shopping district a facelift through new sidewalks with decorative pavers, benches, Victorian-style street lights, trees and planters.

"I was not right when I spoke at the council meeting," Santos said of the $3.1 million bond, "but neither was he. Just like any other UEZ funds, these funds are limited to UEZ-approved projects."

Mangin also has charged that officials deleted the $5,000 budget line from the Department of Public Works, along with another line funding tools related to town vehicles, in the current year's operating budget.

He claims officials plan to repay those budget lines, which currently carry deficits, with money from the bond sale.

"I'm not necessarily opposed to bonding. It is a very useful tool," said Mangin, who has raised the issue at two previous council meetings. "Bonding is not wrong, but (this ordinance) is wrong. My problem with this bond is that it includes way too many current expenses."

Kearny officials, including Santos and Chief Financial Officer Shuh Yang, have repeatedly denied Mangin's allegations, citing New Jersey bond law, which prohibits municipalities from bonding for annual operating expenses. They say the budget lines will be replenished through transfers from other town budget lines finishing the current fiscal year on June 30 with a surplus.

Santos and Mangin have been bitter political foes since last year, when the councilman unsuccessfully challenged the mayor in last June's Democratic primary.

To stop the bond sale, Mangin must collect at least 767 signatures from Kearny registered voters, which represents 15 percent of voters who cast ballots in November's general election, at least 20 days from the date of the bonds being advertised. The issue would then be placed on a referendum for voters to decide whether the town should issue the bonds.

"He's trying to make this a political issue, obviously," Santos said of Mangin's petition drive. "If he wants to expend energy on this, he certainly has the statutory right to do so. He has lost all rational judgment on this issue."

Mangin said he was prompted to start his petition drive after Santos abruptly closed the public hearing on the ordinance at the April 27 meeting while the councilman was still questioning the issue.

"You can't order a public hearing closed while people are still asking questions," Mangin said.

Santos countered that closing the meeting was proper procedure.

"We had a full and healthy debate," he said. "All of Councilman Mangin's questions were answered. When he was being repetitive, the full governing body, except for him, agreed to close the public hearing. He's trying to fabricate an issue on which to base a campaign."

Mangin is running as an independent Democrat in this June's primary against Eileen Eckel, a Santos-backed Third Ward candidate.

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Guest Mangin Supporter

How great is it that Jim is so right on these issues, come on Al try to cover this one up. Your day is coming Mr. Hair Club President. Jimmy keep on truckin buddy.

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