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Cimino: $4.5 Million Disappeared in RiverWinds Golf and Tennis Project

There's no accounting for nearly half of a nearly $10 million loan, according to the township's counsel for redevelopment.

More than $4 million from the project went missing at some point during construction, and the bankruptcy of former redeveloper Namwest left West Deptford taxpayers on the hook for the entirety of a nearly $10 million loan, redevelopment counsel Mark Cimino revealed Thursday night.

Closing documents obtained by Cimino showed the golf course and tennis center were to be built for a total of $5.4 million, but there’s no accounting for where the balance of the loan, somewhat more than $4.5 million, went at this point, Cimino said.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of that,” Cimino said. “I would be remiss if I didn’t dig deeper…unfortunately, the township is now on the hook for the $9.945 million.”

The money could have gone almost anywhere, Cimino said—he referenced the common problem of cost overruns—and said he’s hoping to find at least some of the lost millions by checking through progress payments from the bank.

“They don’t give you all the money at once,” he said.

In the meantime, Cimino said, the loan balance has cost taxpayers about $3 million since 2008, thanks to a lack of principal payments before Namwest’s bankruptcy.

Exacerbating those issues is the deal West Deptford’s previous Democratic administration made with Ron Jaworski Golf Management, Cimino said, citing potential problems with the long-term lease that started in September 2010.

One of the biggest is the value of the property—while the contracts originally show the golf course cost $2.9 million, and appraisals pegged it as being worth as much as $2.5 million, Cimino said, the lease was for $2.1 million with a $1 buyout clause.

That falls into something of a legal gray area, Cimino said, citing a state Supreme Court ruling that spoke to protecting the value of public resources, like the RiverWinds golf course.

“You just can’t give away property to get an increased tax revenue,” Cimino said.

Some of the question of the value comes in what the township was able to make in profits while West Deptford was running the course, which Cimino said were between $79,000 and $157,000. That makes the buyout clause questionable, he said.

The buyout clause hasn’t been activated, though, and the township—as confirmed by tax records—still owns the property.

There isn’t much incentive for Jaworski to plunk down that dollar and take ownership of the course, Cimino said.

Because the township still owns the land, he’s able to get a liquor license for a roving beverage cart, Cimino said. If Jaworski took ownership, that license would disappear, and he’d have to try to buy his own license.

There’s also a serious issue with a Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program agreed to and being paid on right now, Cimino said—it doesn’t actually exist. The township committee never formally adopted the PILOT program, he said.

“In all fairness, the lease…talks about a PILOT being entered,” Cimino said. “The details of that have never been completed.”

The schedule of payments ramps up from $42,000 to $63,531 per year over a fifteen-year, as outlined in the 90-year lease, but Cimino said the full-value taxes would be around $386,000. Technically, in the absence of a PILOT agreement, that full tax bill applies, Cimino said.

All of that adds up to a need to completely review both the appraisals and the deal with Jaworski to make sure the township’s getting as much as possible out of the golf course, Cimino said.

“We need to negotiate both the purchase price and the PILOT,” he said. “We’re going to try to get the best deal we can.”

Partisan BS June 15, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Here we go again with a bunch of nonsense from the republican attorney and political activist Mark Cimino. This seems like some kind of ploy by Janet & ken Vogt to get rid of Jaworski and take over RiverWinds since it's a much better course.
Occupant June 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Now your talking nonsense... You cant compare the two. At Riverwinds there's not a tree on the course. It's on dredge spoils and they don't even have a clubhouse. Jaworski is all promises and no product.
arnold p June 15, 2012 at 02:08 PM
compare attendance westwood overwelms riverwinds now the excuses will be coming out.democrats in the township screwed up again everythings coming out of the woodwork that queen anna and her royal entourage created and didn't want to say anything no wonder she resigned early. i'm an avid golfer I wouldn't play on riverwinds golf course even if it was free. be realistic jaworski is doing what he did to the eagles nest he don't care about this community whatsoever. keep digging the burial will be shortly
Cyndy VeteransWife June 15, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Attention Ron Jaworski - come to Woodbury!!! We have a 100+ year old golf course waiting for visionary entrepreneur - you!!
Cyndy VeteransWife June 15, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Keep up the good work redevelopment counsel Mark Cimino! Query: Will anyone lose their pension or be prosecuted for what appears to be theft of the public's funds?
Samantha McCall June 15, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Wow, you are an idiot!
W.D.78 June 15, 2012 at 02:59 PM
someone or more should be locked up for the 4.5 million missing, maybe its because so many township big shots got and still get to play for free there.Just another example of how they rip the taxpayers of the township off every chance they get.I would have taken the coarse over for a dollar wouldn't you. And if Ken and Janet had the chance to work with riverwinds it would be awesome because Westwood is in great shape all the time.Only complaint is the greens are on the slow side but the coarse is always green and plush.We have no twp. values anymore and the twp. morale is at an all time low because of the back stabing of many of there residents as we watch twp. officials get fat and the taxpayers get hammered every chance they get. I BLEED GREEN HOW ABOUT YOU
Atlas June 15, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I'm sure much of the funds will be accounted for in the end. I will not be surprised, however, to discover that some pocket lining occurred. It seems to be democrat policy.
WDNeedsHelp June 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Is anyone really surprised money is missing under the watch of Sweeney, Docimo, Daws, Cobb, Szymborski, Garrison and Shields. This is what the what happens when the Democrat Party bosses up at the County do when they are allowed to run amok. Thank God, whe now have intelligent people in there draining the swamp. I expect there to be many more "bodies" buried there rising to the surface.
WDNeedsHelp June 15, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Spoken like a true party line County Dem... Caught red-handed and you put blame on someone else....Oh wait it was George Bush's fault......yea....just like Nobama said...If you weren't so pathetic you would be funny.
Bill Bondar June 15, 2012 at 06:35 PM
One thing to note, Westwood is a private course that is not a drain on the taxpayers and pays its own way. Riverwinds, aka Jaworski, doesn't.
Sandy Wagner June 15, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Bryan, did you stay until the end of the meeting, 11:00 p.m.? I don't see any mention of the auditors report which was shocking. I would be interested in knowing when the last audit was done. How could this township run with such a lack of proper bookkeeping. As the last man to speak, who summed everything up said, "This town is ripe for fraud with the way the books are handled." This meeting was a real eye opener.
fred June 15, 2012 at 06:41 PM
where is the money ?
Bryan Littel (Editor) June 15, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I was there until 11:30, Sandy. It'll be a while before I finish going through all the notes from last night.
ThomasJefferson June 16, 2012 at 02:03 AM
And today the bank provided all the documentation of the 4 mil. Sooo do we have to still pay Cimino for his windstorm of lies . These audits have tuned up nothing so now they are making stuff up to try to fire people.
WDMARY'S SISTER June 16, 2012 at 11:06 AM
wd mary gets your facts straight bank didn't turn up anything. one thing for sure bye bye treasurer juliani. ANOTHER BITES THE DUST.SCARED LITTLE RABBITS
Clam Shells June 16, 2012 at 12:10 PM
They authorized the township auditor to spend 100k on this audit that will be a wild goose chase. Supreme incompetence being shown by the three stooges Chintall, CIanfarini, and Kilpatrick
Walter Frockmorton June 17, 2012 at 04:06 AM
Yeah, how dare they ask questions about the last administration regarding the people's money. Everyone knows that they were on the up and up and every penny was accounted for. Who do they think they are asking for accountability with the rec program's budget too? They shouldn't ask questions like that in a public forum. Feelings might get hurt. They should do that in the back room before the meeting and rehearse what they are going to say. Why not, the last administration did.
Ernest Kraus June 23, 2012 at 08:21 PM
How did it cost just under ten million dollars to build a golf course and tennis center when the land was previously paid for?
WDNeedsHelp June 26, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Still not answered..."WHERE IS THE MONEY?" Time to call the State Attorney General and DEMAND an investigation!!! http://www.nj.gov/oag/phone.htm

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