Will Mayor Guenther Step Down Over ‘Disgraceful’ Brigantine Financial Audit? Will NJ Investigate?

Brigantine bank accounts not reconciled, purchase orders in duplicate, asset ledger not maintained in 2014, and checks for 6 grand sent monthly to a Florida LLC that used to manage golf courses. Just another day inside Mayor Guenther’s City Hall.

Make sure you thank Mike Feely; reporter for the Brigantine Beachcomber, the next time you see him. Feely provided residents with a detailed, front page report on just how broken and mis-managed the financial system of Brigantine City Hall is. You won’t find these details in the council meeting minutes edited by the city clerk. You also won’t find this major story in the Brigantine Times.

How bad is it? ‘It’s so bad, the 25% of homeowners with voting rights have lost sight of what’s right and wrong’ said Margaret Housman, a part-time resident for the past 25 years.

As usual, Mayor Guenther has been quiet on this latest Brigantine financial scandal. The 25+ year Mayor has proven time and time again that he is skilled at downplaying critical issues like these, even if bordering on ‘actionable offences’. A growing group of part-time residents, as well as full-time residents, have discussed a recall to remove Guenther from office after news broke of this debacle.

Mitchell Gonzalez, a full-time resident of Brigantine said: We’re not talking grey area here. It’s black and white. The Guenther administration has accomplished some amazingly brazen moves using 2nd homeowner dollars.

Financial & Economic Mis-Steps of Brigantine City Hall

  • The Links Golf Course give-away
  • $6,000 per month sent to Meadowbrook Golf in Florida for services unknown.
  • Public Safety employees costing close to $200,000 a piece
  • 9 ex-chiefs receiving pensions and benefits
  • Off-duty fireman rear-ends Police vehicle. City pays for repair. DUI check & wreckless driving offense covered up.
  • Budget-breaking union contracts expired 3 years ago, but are still valid
  • Bonding & borrowing with little detail on how those dollars are spent
  • Continued Fire Department overtime abuse
  • Documented BB-NJ.com breach of security perpetrated by Chief of Police
  • Lack of Brigantine Hockey & Football financials / non-profit transparency
  • Harassment of local business operators leading to 30+ empty storefronts
  • Deleting and blocking of City Council video webcasts

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BRIGANTINE BEACHCOMBER– The city may have to upgrade some of its accounting systems after an audit showed some of its 2014 reporting to be “a disgrace” while other items were termed unrecorded, unresolved, inaccurate and invalid.

The first of 9 major issues was “the general ledger was not reconciled with sub-ledgers.”

“This basically was a disgrace,” Auditor Costello said at a special July 24 council meeting. The effect was “not all transactions were properly recorded nor were transfers made within the period in which the disbursements occurred meaning the city is not compliant with New Jersey Administrative Code.

According to the report, the city had an over-expenditure of appropriations in the current fund appropriation reserves, which is not permitted by local budget law and local finance board regulations.

The city approved a debt service payment of “bond anticipation notes and capital notes in the current fund before verifying that there were sufficient funds available in the budget lines,” the report said. As a result, Costello said, the over-expenditures must be raised in the 2015 municipal budget as deferred charges.

Bank accounts were not reconciled in a timely manner and records were not available until the beginning of March 2015, he said. As a result, the annual municipal financial statement could not be filed on time as required by state statute.

The city’s master bank account reconciliation was inaccurately prepared and the city’s engineering escrow bank account was not reconciled at all in 2014, Costello said. Several expenses were unrecorded at year end as well as unresolved bank charges, inaccurate debt service payments and invalid encumbrances recorded.

There were several invalid purchase orders noted in all of the city’s funds.

The Brigantine Financial Report noted that some purchase orders were entered in duplicate, others did not have any support attached, and several could not be located.

Another finding said the fixed asset ledger was not maintained in 2014.

State administrative code requires the city to maintain a fixed asset ledger consisting of detailed property records for controlling additions, retirements and transfers of fixed assets.

The City Clerk’s Office failed to reconcile dog and marriage licenses in 2014, the report said, resulting in the state not receiving proper amounts. State reports were not signed or submitted on a timely basis, according to Costello.

The City of Brigantine was apparently unaware that the Police and Fire department post retirement dental benefits-liability had to be recorded.

 

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[…] Brigantine’s Mayor Guenther achieved even greater powers this week’s Nov. 8 election, as voters gave Brigantine’s elite a 6 to 1 council seat ratio. […]

Patrick Costello

Ten years ago, I published “Greenhead Politics”, which contained more than enough evidence of corruption and mismanagement in Brigantine to justify an investigation. The city government, headed by Mayor Guenther, turned its back on the subject and stayed silent until it blew over, which proved to be an effective tactic. At first, residents were outraged and demanded answers, but they were left to discuss it amongst themselves, since their elected government refused to comment on the contents of the book. Eventually, their underestimation of the public’s attention span proved accurate, and everyone just…forgot. 22 years of uninterrupted absolute power seem… Read more »

Lena booker

If it is all so bad and even illegal why doesn’t the State take action against the “rulers?”

Albert Zini

What to do about the blatant political corruption in Brigantine All concerned taxpayers, both residents and non-residents who are tired of the blatant theft of our tax-payer dollars by the Brigabilly cabal who run this town as if it is their own little private men’s club should do the following: 1. Inundate every newspaper both local and in your home town with phone calls and letters requesting that they investigate the nefarious goings-on in Brigantine—the Atlantic Press, The New York Times, the New York Post, The NY Daily News. The Trenton Examiner, The Baltimore Sun, the The Phila Inquirer, the… Read more »

Mark

Very impressive – manual accounting systems in 2015, not reconciling sub ledgers to the general ledger, easier to cook the books?? Are you clowns kidding me???? How long is this BS going to drag on? The local hillbillies think they can do what ever they want, while the second homeowners fund the vast majority of the annual budget….In the real world a CFO and Controller would be fired “the day” their auditors released findings like those reported in the local papers… Not in good old Brigantine where “nepotism” still is king. Every time we drive over the bridge another business… Read more »

knobbs

I think the correct terminology is Brigabillies not hillbillies.

Albert Zini

The problem is, that everyone on Brigantine’s monstrous payroll is complicit in this scam.

It is an all out conspiracy to steal as much money as possible from the non-resident home-owners who pay 77% of the taxes but have ZERO say (voting rights) in how their money is spent.

Right now, it is just blatantly being stolen by the old boys network that runs Brigantine.

Both the NJBI and the FBI should be notified

knobbs

Brig Business as usual
Brigantine Municipal Welfare System at work

I thought republicans stood against welfare, government handouts and entitlements?

Chris

We too had planned on retiring in Brigantine but the past couple of years has changed our minds. We are just waiting for that window of opportunity to list our house and go somewhere else to retire. I am tired of filling the wallets of Guenther, Simpson and all of the other “Old Boys Club” with our hard earned money. Elected officials represent, are responsible and should answer to the powers to be for their misconduct. Our dilemma is that Christie could care less and I guess Trenton has turned a deaf ear to what is going on in Brigantine.… Read more »

Lena booker

This will never happen because those who vote for this group rape the 70% and live great lives.

knobbs

Most Brigantine city hall accounting “systems” are manual. (to use the term systems is laughable) Most transactions were recorded single entry. Most of the records such as bank statements were “lost”. Most of the bank statements had to be obtained directly from the bank after the fact. (how can anyone reconcile without banks statements?) Most subsidiary ledgers were “misplaced” or never maintained. (millions of dollars worth of fixed assets and equipment!) Anyone that knows anything about fund accounting would say that the “systems” and “books” (sic) were as bad as they could be. There are fund accounting rules regulations detailing… Read more »

Don Castaldo

If all this is TRUE. Then please continue to investigate this matter. It just can’t continue and all residents should be concerned and getting this out in the open

knobbs

Residents must demand a forensic investigation with subpoena powers. END OF STORY!

mike r

AS I SAID MAN MOONS AGO WHEN IS THE STATES D.A. GOING TO GET INVILVED AND HAVE A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. HELP PLEASE GUENTER IWS FORCING US SENIORS TO ABANDON OUR HOMES

Donna

We always planned to retire to Brigantine but all this political nonsense and the crazy rising taxes makes us leary, Obviously so are all the other prospective bujyers since the same properties have been on the market since January. I’d really like to see some improvements in the way this community operates before we buy. I would also like to see some appreciation from the long term residents to the 2nd home owners and renters. They are the people that keep Brigantine afloat.

John B

So the 2914 city manager bluementhal who got votes of confidence from Lusa McClay and Rick Delucry proves to be incompetent

As a summer home owner since 2001 all I have seen is property taxes go up and the pride I had in purchasing a summer home on” the island you will love for life” become more and more the laughing stock of the south Jersey shore. When will the voting public of our island finally say enough is enough and take back our island. KICK ALL THE BUMS OUT and let’s start anew and build pride and accountability for all the citizens full and part timers. How can you full timers keep turning a blind eye to all the corruption… Read more »

Jim Dougherty

Let me know how I can get involved as a part time resident

Maria Stevens

He needs to GO……disgrace, embarassing.