Faced with pressing public need, Board of Fire Commissioners forced to adopt budget without quorum

fire commissioners offc tlsLast night, the Board of Fire Commissioners was forced to adopt the budget without a quorum after some Commissioners failed to appear.

“The Board was faced with a pressing public need to adopt a budget to enable the Fire District to continue to provide fire protection and fire prevention services to the residents and property owners of Lakewood,” Commissioner Meir Cohen told TLS. “The statutory deadline for adopting the proposed 2017 Fire District Budget, was last evening, January 24, 2017.”

The proposed budget has been approved by the Local Finance Board, after it was prepared by the Board.

Said Cohen, “However, despite knowledge of last night’s crucial deadline, and notice of the Special Meeting at which a vote on the budget was scheduled, Commissioners Glen Bradford and Ralph Portnoy failed to appear, or make alternative arrangements to enable them to cast their votes. Another Commissioner was unable to appear or participate in the voting due to serious health issues. Accordingly a quorum was not possible.”

The courts have permitted a public body faced with a pressing public interest without alternative jurisdiction available, to vote when a quorum is not achievable, Cohen says.

“The Board chose to use that alternative method to address the emergent situation. The budget has been returned to the Local Finance Board for its review and adoption, during which it will conference the matter with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.”

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  1. The taxpayers have again been ill-served by the current Board. In fact, the two absent commissioners received late notice, or no notice at all, of the meeting. Proper planning would have avoided the need for a special meeting.
    The two commissioners who did not attend would have voted against the budget, which will raise taxes and use a number of accounting tricks, without promoting public fire protection. The budget is stacked with frills and fluff.
    In addition, the vote without a quorum was entirely unlawful. No statute or court has ever approved formal action by a public body which did not have a quorum.
    I urge the taxpayers of Lakewood to examine the budget carefully, and to vote NO on all budget questions. Support the firefighters, not the wasteful spending in the proposed budget.

  2. Find it hard to believe that sitting member of the board does not know when meetings are taking place. I was friends with many past board members and remmember them being in daily contact with the office or other commissioners to keep apprised of any issues. With 99% of the population having cell phones how could they not know of the meeting. Sounds like they were not interesting completing their sworn duty or being used as a pawn in some fool’s game

  3. Actually, adequate public notice of last nights meeting was provided, both on the district website and in the newspapers as required by law.

    The firefighters deserve better. The people of Lakewood deserve better. I am running to join the Board of Fire Commissioners. If I am elected, I will work with the chief officers, the volunteers, the career firefighters, and of course the people of Lakewood to maximize the potential of the fire district.

  4. While Mr. Loigman expresses concern for the taxpayers of Lakewood, during his term as Fire Commissioner he hired additional paid firefighters without looking at the financial ramifications or renegotiating the collective bargaining agreement, a decision that costs the taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars a year in overtime.

    The two Commissioners who failed to vote on the Fire District budget Tuesday evening were supported by Mr. Loigman when they ran for the Board, and who apparently are in close contact with Mr. Loigman, as he indicates that he was aware how they would have voted, had they shown up. However one of these Commissioners has not participated in running the Fire District since the reorganization meeting held in March, 2016. The other has only attended the public meetings, and not the public workshop sessions. Their failure to vote on the budget knowing the likely impact that refusal would have on the citizens of Lakewood, demonstrates at best their indifference to the taxpayers, and at worst, their hostility.

    Again Mr. Loigman does not have his facts straight, as the 2017 budget is within the 2% cap established by the State, has been approved by the State, and the tax rate increase over last year’s budget is miniscule (.002 tax rate increase) which on a $350,000.00 residence is less than $0.50 per month!

  5. I do not know Mr. Loigman so I will not judge him by his comment. But he states ” the two absent commissioners received late notice, or no notice at all, of the meeting”. It seems to be stating a fact that he is certain of.
    The next comment by Moshe Zeines clearly states ” adequate public notice of lasts nights meeting was provided, both on the district website and in the newspapers as required by law”
    The statement by Mr. Loigman is one that the people of Lakewood would have to take him at his word, that he somehow knew that the two absent commissioners received no notice or late notice. Moshe Zeines however, said that the proper notice was given on the website and newspapers. His statement is very easy to confirm. We can check and see if the notice was provided. If it was, we know that Mr. Loigman for whatever reason, feels the need to mislead the community in order to gain their confidence and their vote.
    I also found it strange that Mr. Loigman seemed to know, as commissioner Meir Cohen pointed out, how the two absent commissioners would have voted had they actually shown up and voted.

    Another thing I found strange was how Mr. Loigman ended his comment. He said ” vote NO on all budget questions. Support the firefighters, not the wasteful spending in the budget”. Not once did I see him ask the residents of Lakewood to support him as commissioner so he can actually make a difference, if that is what he really wants to do. Moshe Zeines clearly asked for the people’s support so that he could do his part in helping the residents of Lakewood. Mr. Loigman sounds like he is using this forum as a tool to mislead and confuse, while Moshe Zeines sounds like he wants what is best for the residents of Lakewood.

    I am running in this election as well. I have been researching and looking into the fire department and all that they do to keep us, the residents of Lakewood, safe. The amazing work of the paid firefighters as well as the tremendous dedication of the volunteers is truly remarkable. Over the last two weeks there have been 3 structure fires, one in which a volunteer firefighter was injured.
    We all want the same things. We want a fire department that has the tools necessary to provide their lifesaving work and we also want the security as residents knowing that we can rely on our fire department to be there for us should we ever need them.
    I have spoken to many of my fellow residents and asked what they would like to see out of our fire department. What their concerns are. What hopes they have for the future and how I can help to bring about the changes they want to see. I also have a meeting scheduled with some firefighters to hear their perspective and what they would like to see done.
    There seem to be a few reasonable choices for commissioner in this election. Based on the comments above I do not believe Mr. Loigman is one of the reasonable choices.
    So I would like to ask for your support and vote in this coming election so that I can do my best for the residents of Lakewood.
    Thank you.

  6. It was fairly easy to ascertain how the two commissioners would have voted. One of them spoke at every previous public meeting about the many problems with the proposed budget, and voted no at those meetings because he said that the taxpayers’ interests had been disregarded. The other told me, in a telephone conversation after the “meeting,” that he was opposed to the poorly prepared budget.
    I am sorry that Mr. Shain (who did not attend any of the meetings of the Board of Fire Commissioners at which the budget was discussed) has bought into the inaccurate stories about the meeting notice. Perhaps he would be better informed if he had been present at one or more of the meetings, or had some background in fire protection.
    As to the comment by Meir about overtime, I’m sure that the taxpayers are smart enough not to be fooled. The proposed contract, which would have almost eliminated all overtime, was rejected by him a year ago. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary overtime has been paid only because of his refusal to negotiate in good faith (the contract still has not been finalized).
    The recommendations of the fire chiefs (who are veteran volunteer firefighters) have been constantly ignored by Meir. The public knows that a few additional firefighters were hired several years ago only after the fire chiefs implored the Board that it was needed to maintain public safety. At that time, every member of the Board voted to back the fire chiefs. The current Board, especially Meir and his two allies, do not support the fire chiefs.
    I urge the public to consider the impact this election will have on their own well-being. I am the only candidate with the background and experience to protect the taxpayers’ finances as well as their safety.

  7. I won’t spend too much time commenting about facts that are easily verifiable but if the public wants to see the truth for themselves, all you have to do is look at the archive of http://www.LakewoodFD.org or pick up the Jan 21st edition of the APP to see the notice of the meetings.

    As far as the claims that Mr Loigman enjoys the endorsement and support of the Lakewood Fire Chiefs, THAT COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! On the contrary, the Chiefs have said numerous times that they believe that all of the progress and improvement over the last 2 years is due to the new Board and when Larry was on the Board he spent all of his time fighting with Chief Macnamara and the others. Don’t take my word for it. Everyone has the right and ability to contact the Chiefs and verify the facts or you can check from the comfort of your own home by reading through all of the publicly accessible 2013 and 2014 meeting minutes on LakewoodFD.org and you will see how Larry never got along with the Chiefs or anyone else for that matter.

    Larry: Let me give you some strategic advice. If you really want to win this election and not lose by a 10-1 Landslide like in the previous two elections that you ran in, you have to start backing up your rhetoric with facts. The People of Lakewood are smarter than you think and they can see through all your smoke and mirrors. It also doesn’t help that you can’t run on your own record because your previous term as a Fire Commissioner was a complete and utter failure which set the Fire Department back and created issues that we are still dealing with 2 years later.

  8. Were those 2 only notified via the website and the APP?

    I find it hard to believe that for such a critical meeting – held on the last night possible, with a board of 5 members and one of them being ill, the others had to rely on reading the APP or your website to know that there was a meeting that night.

    Were they really not contacted any other way??? Do you not have their email of phone numbers? Hiding behind a notice in the APP and then attacking them fro not showing up is wrong.

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