Budget Anyone?

Since February, the Mayor has spent so much time trying to convince a Superior Court Judge that he should be in charge of everything that he has ignored some of the things he is actually in charge of – such as the budget. The charter clearly assigns this responsibility to him.

The mayor has boasted about his 2015 budget, achieved through “zero based budgeting.” The fact is the initial budget that he submitted to Council in 2015 had a deficit of approximately $900,000, and the only reason you were not hit with an enormous increase was because it was trimmed down by the Council majority with the help of the auditor.

This year, he issued a directive at the February meeting that all Departments were to submit their departmental budgets within 15 days. He has yet to submit a budget to Council. So either, everyone ignored him, in which case he is not much of a mayor, or he got the figures and didn’t know what to do with them.

He will likely whine that he received no cooperation from Council (he didn’t ask for any) or that he was waiting for input from the finance committee (whose job, by ordinance, is to review the Mayor’s budget prior to submission to Council – not prepare it). He sued to be King when he can’t even fulfill the few duties that the charter actually assigns to him. Maybe he should spend more time on his statutory duties and less time on a baseless and expensive lawsuit.

To Appeal or Not to Appeal?

To appeal or not to appeal on an ill-conceived lawsuit– that’s a question that the Mayor has faced several times now and, in each case, his ill-informed decision coupled with an enabling attorney has cost you, the taxpayer, more money.

The question the Mayor faced wasn’t simply to appeal or not to appeal; it was much more complicated than that.  It involves matters such as:

What is the basis for the appeal?

What standards will the Court apply?

What is the likelihood of success?

What are the procedures for filing?

When are the deadlines for filing?

Is it appropriate to file an appeal on a decision that is not yet final?

If the plaintiff and his attorney do not carefully consider these individual questions, then the basic question simply becomes  “Do I choose to waste taxpayers’ money or not to waste taxpayers’ money?”  The answer to that question should always be “not to waste taxpayers’ money” but that is not McKay’s style.

**Please keep in mind as you read the following, that this is the work of the attorney that McKay wants to be the township’s attorney. At a higher hourly rate than our current attorney.**

Here’s the scoop: As McKay explained at the February council meeting, he felt replacing the Township’s current attorney was of such urgency that he requested “emergent relief” from the Court.  That would allow him to do this immediately without the advice and consent of council.  (Such relief is typically issued in the form of an injunction or restraining order.)  When the court ruled at the initial oral arguments that the law was well settled and he could not do this, the plaintiff challenged the Court’s finding.  In a subsequent written opinion, the Court noted:

Even though the Court has previously ruled on this issue, the Plaintiff appears to challenge the Court’s ruling simply by raising the issue again.  The Plaintiff has not filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the issue pursuant to R. 4:49-2, which would be the appropriate vehicle for the Plaintiff to proceed.  Notwithstanding the Plaintiff’s misuse or misapplication of the applicable rule, the Court will address the issue again in this opinion in order to complete the record. 

So, McKay’s initial request for relief was denied on well-established legal grounds and his initial challenge failed to follow proper procedures.

Despite the Court’s strongly-worded ruling, McKay is still is trying to convince the Court to allow him to hire his personal attorney as the Township attorney without the advice and consent of Council.

McKay and his attorney filed a Notice of Appeal on the decision for the temporary restraining order.  The Court questioned whether the Notice of Appeal was proper since it involved a ruling by a trial court that was made before all claims are resolved.  That type of appeal is called an interlocutory appeal.  They are disfavored by the courts and are rarely given.  And, McKay and his attorney did not follow the proper procedures for an interlocutory appeal.

Further, interlocutory appeals must be filed within 20 days of the decision.  The decision was given on 3/11/2016.  McKay’s Notice of Appeal was filed on 4/22/2016 – well after the deadline.

The Appellate Division sent a letter to all parties involved, telling them of the appeal and informing McKay and his attorney that their appeal was deficient for a variety of reasons.  So, what did McKay and his attorney do?   They re-filed what basically amounted to the same appeal on 5/2/2016.

Unfortunately, even though the appeal failed to meet deadlines and follow procedural requirements, all the defending attorneys had to respond, and the cost of the responses falls to you, dear taxpayer.

On May 16, McKay withdrew his incorrect appeal. So all that work you paid for was for nothing after all!  Further, the Mayor has made several attempts to get the taxpayers to pay his attorney’s fees.

Sadly, the moral of the story is that McKay just can’t help himself in his ill-guided effort to be crowned King of Lopatcong (paraphrasing how the Court characterized his lawsuit), even when it comes to wasting your hard-earned money!

The Cost to Be King is Paid for by YOU

One of the most prevailing reasons for the recall is the cost of McKay’s administration to you, the taxpayer.  His actions and inactions are directly affecting our wallets.  Case in point: council had to authorize the spending of $20,000 just to defend themselves in his frivolous and outrageous lawsuit against them, the clerk and our attorneys!  And that amount may not be enough.

Just think about what we could do with the just that $20,000 alone, never mind all the other tens of thousands of dollars he’s cost us to date!  That $20,000 alone could be used for major improvements at the park, such as updated pavilion bathrooms.  It could be used to purchase new police cars, new fire protection equipment, patch up a road in need of repair…the list goes on and on!

We are working on a rough estimate tally of the “Cost to Be King”.  In the meantime, give us a call or drop us an email and we will come by to get your signature on the recall petition.

The Recall is Still ON!

We have to admit, we are completely flabbergasted that McKay and his attorney – the same attorney he wants to hire as our Township Attorney – cannot figure out how to read the rules and guidelines that regulate the Recall process.

We are extremely upset, however, that these two are not just wasting Lopatcong Taxpayer money, but now they are wasting Warren County Taxpayer money!  Enough is enough!

The recall is on, and going strong.  Please contact us to sign or help circulate the petition.   Let’s end this nonsense once and for all.  We cannot afford to have this man in office any longer!

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