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GAMING THE PENSION SYSTEM FOR POLITCAL GAIN
How Your Tax Dollars Got Used To Buy Political IOU’s

Dan Cahill, a retired Ventnor Fire Chief, has been quite vocal in recent weeks, with regular letters to editor of local newspapers which are both critical of the Kelly Administration and supportive of former Mayor Kreischer’s bid to return to elective office.

Mr. Cahill has repeated the claim by Kreischer -- apparently without any independent investigation of his own -- that Mr. Kreischer left behind a legacy of a $1Million budget surplus to his successors in office.

BIG LIES* (imaginary surpluses) sometimes get trotted out when there have been BIG FAVORS. Was there anything "special" in the relationship between the ex-Mayor and ex-Fire Chief? Looking back to the time when he was approaching retirement, Mr. Cahill received a salary of over $100,000 a year as Chief. He also got a salary as Fire Inspector. Cahill also was given "farewell money" of $210,000 for Comp time upon retirement, and as Chief, he himself generated the memo calling for that retirement payout. In an obvious move to set up even more “cushy” numbers for Mr. Cahill’s retirement and its pension calculation, the Fire Inspector job description got some tinkering.

Mr. Kreischer ordered a 250% retroactive increase in Mr. Cahill’s pay as Fire Inspector to qualify Cahill for a "bump up” in pension pay.

This order was memorialized in writing by former City Administrator Andrew McCrosson -- a convicted felon now serving 30 months time in federal prison for embezzling $458,000. The city documents which show what happened can be viewed here.

Spreading his favors, Mr. Kreischer, a Republican, helped out another friend with our tax dollars when he listed Jim Whelan, a Democrat now running for office, as a full-time employee as "Secretary to the Mayor." In fact, Whelan was largely a no-show part-time eminent domain consultant on the flopped Redevelopment scheme in Ventnor’s North Beach. But it helped Mr. Whelan’s pension qualifications to be a fictitious “full-timer” -- adding as it did to the time counted for his pension after he no longer held pension-qualifying elective office in Atlantic City. WeLoveVentnor unearthed the W-2’s through OPRA several years ago, but it took Whelan’s opponent Vince Polistina to dig even deeper to file an OPRA which revealed the job description and how it had been characterized as a full-time position.

Mr. Whelan endorsed Mr. Kreischer in the last election. Obviously, Kreischer called in his IOU from Whelan. Mr. Cahill is now endorsing Mr. Kreischer in the current special election. Kreischer is calling in yet another political IOU from Cahill, thanks to the favor of the inflated pension he ordered for Cahill.

We taxpayers PAY while conniving politicians PLAY with our money.

The surplus did not exist in any meaningful way by May 2008 when Ventnor had a regime change. The new administration not only discovered Ventnor’s lack of any surplus, but a dire cash position that was so weak the city would NOT be able to meet payroll for city workers. In an effort to brag in his failed ’08 campaign about how low he had kept Long Term Bonded Debt, Kreischer had used General Tax Revenues needed to meet current budget to pay millions for the Capital Improvements on the pier. Moreover, grant money for the pier was not released by DEP because DEP had never been paid its $700,000 billing to Ventnor for the earlier 2003-04 AISPP “dunes” project. A recapitulation of the Kreischer Administration’s municipal spending budget (red ) and the Kelly Administration’s municipal spending (green) is laid out below.

Year
Municipal (1)
Year-Over
Year IncreaseI
Total (2)
Year-Over
Year Increase
2004
$13,065,558.25
$30,604,218.09
2005
$12,873,898.90
-1.47%
$32,583,955.97
6.47%
2006
$13,668,318.25
6.17%
$35,654,401.22
9.47%
2007
$15,169,865.32
10.99%
$39,276,125.15
10.16%
2008
$17,885,895.45
17.90%
$42,495,141.32
8.20%
2009
$17,772,658.58
-.63%
$43,244,846.02
1.76%
2010
$17,772,508.00
-0008%
$44,566,689.75
3.06%
2011
$18,330,278.00
3.14%
$45,685,787.27
2.51%

(1) Municipal Spending is most directly controllable by a Commission
(2) Total is calculated as Municipal + County + Schools taxes

Since elections find candidates playing fast and loose with the facts, the facts are laid out as a service for voters who care to read up and determine the truth for themselves.

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*BIG LIE: MORE ABOUT THAT $1 MILLION SURPLUS. In fact, a substantial 3Q2007 “emergency” tax hike to cover an unexpected revenue shortfall discovered earlier in that same year and a “surprise” medical insurance chargeback to the city also finagled a $1M surplus. But that created-at-the-Eleventh-Hour-of-2007 surplus -- the year when Kreischer earlier sent out July “estimated” tax bills -- was used as a plug number. Kreischer immediately turned around and fed it into 2008 budget, so that the year-over-year spending increase from ’07 to ’08 would not be even worse than the 17.9% spending increase which is documented in filings at DCA in Trenton.