NJ State Audit: Brigantine Multiple Financial Violations, $4.5mil Pension Deficit, Insurance Scams & Over-payments.

Brigantine ‘Leadership’.

After decades of flying under the radar, Brigantine has finally been audited by the New Jersey State Comptroller. That’s according to a scathing, but much needed report from The Press of Atlantic City.

Brigantine lacks adequate policies and procedures when it comes to the oversight of sick time, overtime, comp time and nepotism. That being said, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

BrigantineNOW: Highlighting Brigantine City Hall corruption since 2011. Being hated by Phil Guenther is a badge of honor for us.

Financial Failures in Brigantine. Mayors Simpson, Sera & Guenther.

Non-voting, 2nd homeowners (so-called shoobies) foot most of the bill for Brigantine’s financial foolery.

Brigantine spent $2.4 million on health benefits in 2021. The NJ Comptroller audit discovered Brigantine spending more than necessary by using a private insurer, recommended by a financially motivated insurance broker.

The NJ State investigation into Brigantine’s operations estimates broker fees averaged $62,000 each year from 2019 through 2021.

Note: Insurance brokers don’t get commission when Brigantine or other local government participates in a NJ state health plan. Brokers incentivized to favor more expensive plans for Brigantine. Read more at NJ101.com:


City of Brigantine overpaid $191,000 by not participating in State Health Benefits Program.

Brigantine also said no to joining county wide municipal court system which would have saved taxpayers over $100,000 per year.

The use of insurance brokers by Brigantine is risky. “What’s good for the broker may not be good for the taxpayers.”

Brigantine taxpayers paid $64,000 for health benefit waivers to any public employee receiving coverage through a spouse or family member employed by the City of Brigantine. Employees who waive coverage can receive up to $5,000.

Brigantine Often Accused of Nepotism, Like Most Small Towns.

John Doring

Brigantine Ignores Their Own Anti-Nepotism policy.

The NJ State Audit Report shows Brigantine Superintendent of Public Works, John Doring, supervises his brother and approves his overtime pay. This is a clear violation of nepotism laws and could cost Doring his job.

It’s been going on for years.

This type of employee crime is not new in Brigantine. Years ago, Brigantine Fire Department captains would sign off on each others overtime. See Tiger Platt Fiasco. Then Mayor, Phil Guenther, did little to stop the practice and gave Platt and others a pass. Former Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther, is currently the Superintendent of ACIT Vocational High School.

Brigantine Underfunded Lifeguard Pension System.

How embarrassing for Brigantine Mayor, Vince Sera, an ex-lifeguard.

The Brigantine Lifeguard pension plan is not properly funded. $4.5 million in the hole. The city’s 2021 contribution was $20,000 but will need to increase to $358,000 a year for the next 19 years to close the gap. Brigantine Mayor Vince Sera is a former lifeguard not well-liked by current lifeguards. Tax hikes are on the way.

New Jersey law says coastal cities must provide pension plans to lifeguards.

Non-voting, Brigantine 2nd homeowners will pay most of that bill.

Sweet Deal for Brigantine CFO, Courtesy of Non-Voting 2nd Homeowners.

Chief Financial Officer’s (CFO) contract allows for payment of up to one calendar year, or 2,080 hours, of accumulated sick leave at retirement and allows carryover of 50 vacation days per year.

Brigantine hired CFO Roxanne Tosto in 2015. She is subject to 2010 state law that limits payments for sick leave and carryover of vacation leave.

Brigantine CFO, Roxanne Tosto, was given a personal contract that makes her eligible for 2,080 hours of unused sick time at retirement even though law caps the payout at $15,000.

City records also show that Brigantine CFO Roxanne Tosto earned 30 vacation days in 2021 and carried 50 unused vacation days into 2022.

The carryover of 50 days is 20 days more than allowed by the 2010 law. This exposes taxpayers to costly leave benefit payments.

brigantine shoobie NJ audit
Shoobie Hate?

Read BrigantineNOW for corruption and financial mismanagement coverage going back to 2011.

EXAMPLE FINDING: Brigantine did not obtain the required documentation for retiring employees using sick leave, resulting in the undocumented and potentially wasteful use of 165 sick days valued at $57,000.

Brigantine did not accurately calculate the earned leave time of retirees in accordance with employment contracts and CBAs, resulting in $10,900 of improper payments.

Mollye O’Neill is Director of Personnel for Brigantine.

Nine employees used 469 sick days leading up to their retirement. Testing found that 165, or 35 percent, of the used sick days were unsupported and valued at $57,000.

Example: one employee used 97 of 127 sick days without submitting a doctor’s note. These 97 unsupported sick days were valued at $25,000. We note that none of these employees were subject to the caps established by the 2010 law.

Brigantine has been notorious for it’s use of ‘longevity pay’.

Sick leave not documented properly. $57,000 in misused tax dollars. Example: A Brigantine public employee didn’t have doctor notes for majority of 127 sick days used leading up to their retirement. Brigantine made $10,900 in improper payments by not accurately calculating earned leave time of Brigantine retirees.

Brigantine’s population still declining. Less than 800 full time residents now, yet municipal workforce remains oversized at 137 full-time employees and 151 part-time workers.

Brigantine’s municipal budget is $33 million. Brigantine property tax levy is $22 million. When you add county and school taxes, the total number is $58 million. Non-voting, 2nd homeowners in Brigantine handle most of that tax liability.

Watch for larger tax increases in Brigantine, combined with potential reduction of some city services.

City Manager Jim Bennett (former Police Chief) defended the financial mismanagement. Brigantine takes its commitment to its residents and employees very seriously, and works to act in their best interests.

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26 thoughts on “NJ State Audit: Brigantine Multiple Financial Violations, $4.5mil Pension Deficit, Insurance Scams & Over-payments.”

  1. When you hire or elect irresponsible people who you don’t properly vet, this is the result.

    A percentage of people who game the system. And as the article states, the property owners from out of state suffer the consequences.

  2. If anyone can afford to have a second home on this beautiful island, be grateful and stop complaining! Our services here are impeccable.

    I’ve been a resident for neat 30 years and support our leadership.

    1. Frances with a comment like that I’m thinking
      you must be related to one or more of the criminals running our beautiful island.

      1. Hi Deborah. I like your response. I was respectful in my reply to Frances but it’s not posted yet. Guess my reference to financial negligence won’t get posted

    2. It doesn’t matter if one can afford a second home. The audit of Brigantine has produced a number of financial wrongdoings by it’s leadership. It’s not fair to any taxpayer regardless if full time or part time.

      I have to believe the DOL should look at the comp time to exempt staff. And perhaps some fiduciary mis-steps by those responsible for the pension plan.

      Responsible people will have a field day with what looks to be financial negligence.

    3. Frances,
      It doesn’t matter if one can afford a 2nd home. Financial and apparently some Fiduciary mismanagement by Brigantine leadership has NOTHING to do with having a second home. I am sure you and other are embarrassed by the NJ audit. We are grateful that the audit was completed and that the mismanagement will be corrected, including evaluating the installment of new leadership. EMcB

  3. It’s hilarious that government is FINALLY catching up with corruption in Brigantine. They need to look much further back. It started in the 80’s!

    Sons and fathers running the police and fire departments. Wives were city clerks. Mayor’s running for years without Democratic opponents (or their lives were ruined!)

    Start with Mayor Rogie in the 80’s. Then the next one, his son-in-law, and the one after him until you get to Phil Guenther.

    The entire town is run by Republicans and ALWAYS has been! They all stick together and cover each other’s asses!

  4. Anytime power goes unchecked long enough, no matter who is in power, there will be abuses of power. People are going to and need to lose jobs over this.

    As a second home homeowner in brigantine this is definitely not what I want to hear. But I will take a clean safe republican ran city over a democratic ran city everyday

  5. We have been here 3 years full time, 4 years part time prior. The town is run like a well-oiled machine. It’s peaceful, safe and clean. The leadership here has brought new businesses in to help the town grow. Repairs are made on a timely fashion everywhere from the beach to the bay.

    I didn’t even know until September, what was our mayor’s political party. Brigantine is NOT a political party; It is a beautiful beach town for EVERYONE!

    1. Underfunded lifeguard pension fund by $4.5 million? Vince Sera has a full-time teaching job. Do you think he has the time to check to see if an employee is providing doctors notes? Puhlease….

      Nepotism? How about the Democrat-run NJ Turnpike Authority which is the very definition of Patronage Pit – 5000 employees to run a paved road.

      The violations will be addressed. Big deal.

    2. Don’t assume peaceful and safe. There have been an abundance of thefts over the last many years and two shootings. One at the north end and in an alley on 20th.

      It is a beautiful beach for sure! Love living her in that regard.

      Unfortunately, the audit has exposed some terrible mismanagement and grateful for the audit. Let’s clean up the financial mismanagement, apparent lack of fiduciary duty of care and “potential” Federal HR related FLSA violations on comp time practices for Exempt staff.

  6. 800 full time residents…288 municipal employees? And overtime?
    Little homes giving way to giant homes and giant tax bills- no one here should have his taxes go up. We shouldn’t have single pot hole either.

  7. This state audit: What is going to be done about the findings? Is the city required by the state to embrace proper accounting, financial and personnel management processes?

    Will the city document these changes? Who is responsible to monitor the city’s response to this audit?

    Will the state produce a report to inform the taxpayers?

    1. Hi Sharon
      I would attend the Council meeting tomorrow, the 7th. I have to believe these questions will be addressed. This matter is very disconcerting and I have to believe this audit will not be the end of what may be uncovered. Its a shame as Brigantine is a beautiful beach town.

  8. Tax freeze until all corruption is corrected and tax credit for all those stolen from the past ten years.

    Any consultants and brokers should be fired immediately. All those stealing hours should be prosecuted.

    With idiots making comments such as “I should consider myself lucky to have a shore house and keep my mouth shut”… after working 80 hours a week for 40 years to afford it, I’m making it my primary residence to ensure you’re working 8 hours a day with no overtime, no beach time, no boating time, and no fishing time while you are supposed to be working.

  9. Brigantine Hockey Mom

    FACT: Brigantine is amazingly beautiful. FACT: City Hall allows gross financial mis-management and ‘stealing’ from non-voting, 2nd homeowners. 100% true.

  10. These guys are just hanging on and stealing as long as they can. A class action lawsuit by second homeowners is the only way to get rid of these crooks.

    It’s not your island, it’s everyone’s island. Get used to it. You are on your way out.

  11. It’s gut-wrenching and heart-breaking to find our little local government as corrupt as some foreign countries I’ve lived in. Never dreamed it would happen on our beautiful island.

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