NJ.com picked up the story that I broke here over a week ago.
The Cumberland County freeholders during a post-closed session vote last month decided to drop the county’s regular auditor of more than 30 years in favor new company.
The freeholders, by a vote of 5-0, were so eager to make the change that they awarded the auditing contract to Ford Scott Associates, an Ocean City firm, despite the fact that they had presented the most expensive bid — worth $148,500.
Jason Laday did get some so-called explanations for this inexplicable decision to put the screws to Cumberland County taxpayers. It was disappointing that the two lame-duck freeholders, Dunkins and Jannarone opted to skip one of the last freeholder meetings of their term. At least their actions proved what I have ascertained all along – they had never intended to ever serve the public. Their terms in office were self-serving ego trips, and as soon as they saw they were out, they decided to act like spoiled brats and renege on their duties to vote on the public behalf.
The subject – hiring a county auditor. For thirty years the county has been firmly entrenched under Democratic control. Over the last decade we have seen property taxes double, and we have seen county spending rocket out of control. During that same period, a massive budget surplus was used in lieu of spending reductions resulting in a projected $10 MILLION shortfall this year. This financial situation was created by political maneuverings to hire cronies and hacks and to reward political contributors.
I have supported the Republicans because they promised this would change under their rule. They lied.
The county’s regular auditor, Bowman & Company, out of Voorhees, presented a $140,625 bid, while a third company — Hutchings, Farrell, Myer & Allison, from Freehold — bid $141,500.
Freeholders Carl Kirstein, Tom Sheppard, Sam Fiocchi, Mary Gruccio and Bill Whelan approved the resolution, following a a closed session during the Dec. 27 meeting.
I have to agree with Gary Simmerman with his questions to the Freeholder Board. Of course, the only reason he is opening his mouth on this particular vote when he has historically been silent when the D’s have done the same is he is planning to run for Freeholder this year. At least that is what I hear. Joe Derella will likely be his running mate (a brilliant move by the CCDO, if these rumors are true).
“I just wanted to know why it didn’t go to the lowest bidder,” said Simmerman. “Also, it’s worth stating that Bowman knows this county, and with a new freeholder board, it’s important that we have someone in there who doesn’t need to be acclimated to the county.”
Kirstein is correct that it is time for a change, fresh eyes are critical if we expect to see improvement. However, rewarding a company that has been a major Republican player rather than going for the lowest responsible bidder is NOT the change that Cumberland County taxpayers wanted. If change was really wanted, then opt for the second lowest bidder. The second lowest bidder is, as far as I can tell a non-partisan accounting outfit. I can find no trail of contributions by this company to either party. I find it truly offensive that a non-partisan business is precluded from doing business in Cumberland County; merely changing the guard while continuing with the same unethical practices should be reason to upset every concerned voter.