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Republicans Fire Back Over Sweeney's Criticism on Eagle Point Deals

The Republicans defended what the state Senate President called a rushed settlement with Sunoco and Coastal/El Paso.

West Deptford Republicans opened up the war of words Wednesday, firing back at state Senate President Stephen Sweeney over remarks the senator made to the Gloucester County Times this weekend about over property tax disputes at the .

In two separate statements, one from Mayor Ray Chintall and committeeman Sam Cianfarini, and the other from acting local party chair Denny Forte, the Republicans threw down the gauntlet, challenging Sweeney on his assertion the settlements were rushed.

“We were forced to act and act quickly in order to ensure the interests of all West Deptford Taxpayers were met,” Chintall and Cianfarini’s statement reads. "We negotiated in good faith with both companies and came to the current settlement agreement through hard work on the part of the new administration, recognizing that taking this appeal to court would be devastating to West Deptford Township."

Sweeney, in an article published in the Times' Sunday edition, said the Republicans on the committee, who approved the deals in a party-line vote last week, moved hastily, echoing the sentiments expressed by Democratic committeewomen Denice DiCarlo and Donna Szymborski, who voted against the settlements, citing insufficient information on the deals and a rush to finalize.

“They’re leaving millions of dollars on the table, and they’re saying they got the best deal,” Sweeney told the Times. “Prove it to me and to the taxpayers of West Deptford.”

But Forte accused Sweeney of being disengaged from the process and said the senator’s criticisms ring false.

“It is one thing for Steve Sweeney to play Monday morning quarterback after one Sunday, but after 24 years of Sundays, his comments are just political posturing,” Forte said in his statement.

Sweeney should get involved directly in the process if he wants a say, Chintall and Cianfarini said.

"We challenge Senator Sweeney to stop hiding behind his baseless press releases and statements to the press and actually attend a township committee meeting for once," they said in their statement.

And given the drawn-out length of time on the tax appeals—the settlements cover disputes dating back to the 1980s—it was well past the due date for the settlements to get done, the Republicans said.

"It has been going on for 24 years, and we are proud to be providing the leadership needed to move our town forward with the best deal possible for the taxpayers," Chintall and Cianfarini said in their statement.

The Republicans have previously said than either a likely court outcome, which could cost the township around $55 million, or a worst-case scenario, which could hit the township for up to $90 million.

Though the deals have passed initial muster, there are still steps in the process. The state Local Finance Board has to OK the up to $33 million in tax refunding bonds the committee approved as part of the settlements, which could come at that board’s May 9 meeting.

From there, the committee will have to vote final approval on the bond ordinance, either at a special meeting in late May or one of the June meetings, which would require a four-vote supermajority—something that, as of right now, isn’t there, given the two Democrats’ no votes.

And lurking behind all that is a potential trial date on June 4, should the settlements not come to fruition.

diane young April 26, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Do you think they are taking the money out of the democrats lawyers hands by settling. If anyone thinks 90 million is a better deal that 33 million,you should be residing in ancora.Now if the dicarlo or donna vote no,looks like another victory this year for the republicans.residents do you want this to end or continue and have our taxes raised to $900.00 more a years.be a lot of 4 sale signs going up in the township
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Mr. Sweeney, In the Sunday article in the GC Times you said, “They’re leaving millions of dollars on the table, and they’re saying they got the best deal,” he said. “Prove it to me and to the taxpayers of West Deptford.” I believe they have backed up the deal with real figures under three scenarios. If you believe they have left millions on the table, what scenario do YOU envision that backs up this statement of yours? Back it up with numbers, sir, and a scenario of just how what you are proposing would play out in a settlement or court room. You (and Donna and Denice) keep referring to some ephemeral option, but have yet to demonstrate any actual scenario.
J. Smith April 26, 2012 at 01:09 PM
This is about our tax dollars, not politics. Sweeney and DiCarlo are right to question this quicky settlement. Where are the appraisal expert reports that justify refunding over $30 million to the oil companies? As taxpayers, we should demand solid proof that this really is the best course of action for the township's taxpayers.
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 01:16 PM
What "quicky" settlement??? It was scheduled for trial!
My Town Too April 26, 2012 at 01:25 PM
J. Smith- they do have professional advice. The same professionals Denice & Donna VOTED YES to pay!!!! Solid proof? If your mommy told you everything in life is guaranteed, she lied.
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 01:32 PM
J. Smith, Again I say, if Mr. Sweeney knows of some tax assessment magic beyond what the tax attorney (who has been involved for years) knows, by all means, for the sake of the taxpayer, reveal it, SPELL IT OUT, so that this self-same taxpayer might encourage our township committee to choose another option.
Ken April 26, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Why are we going to let Sunoco pay taxes for the next years at a rate based on 100 mil. when the property is , correctly assessed at 153 mil? That is why they are questioning the settlement.But hey whats 53mil between friends.
diane young April 26, 2012 at 02:20 PM
where was the bally hoo in the past years when there was no settlement.You sit in your living room every night and you could really care less what they settle for.If your taxes increased by a $1000 a year are you gonna bitch then.Come on quit being stupid.As previously stated Donna & Denise don't have any proof to back their claim.Sometime I wonder why I answer such imbecilic people on here when they don't have a clue.Just another bunch of monday night quarterbacks.
Joe Montana April 26, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Diane, the correct phrase is monday morning quarterback. Have any of you republican lackey's had a formal education. I've never seen so many illiterate people in one spot. Sam and Ray are hiding something just like the judge said.
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Gee, Joe, perhaps you should not be the person casting the illiterate stone. It should be lackeys (plural), not lackey's (possessive). Grow up and stick to the subject.
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Ken, how do you know that $153mil is a "correct" assessment? Regardless, if we potentially owe them $47.5mil (and could potentially be looking at a $50mil valuation) wouldn't the decrease in assessed value to $100mil from $153mil (which, by the way is only locked in until the end of 2013), be a way for us to pay back more of what we owe without hitting us all at once in our cash flow for the current year? So we'd pay back $15mil in cash (through the bonds) this year and slowly “pay back” more over this year and next, by using a lower assessed value. And it’s not $53mil total, it’s $53mil in assessed value times the tax rate that we’d actually be paying back this year and next.
Ken April 26, 2012 at 04:50 PM
153mil came from the county per an independant firm, 313mil that was being fought was a state figure given by whitman. And at the end of 2013 they will sue again saying its only worth 50mil so we'll settle at 75mil. lets make them pay this year on the 153mil and settle at 100mil next time. IMO. or lets see the minutes from the meetings between sam, ray and sunoco and see what was really discussed.
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 05:09 PM
But then, they could come back and demand that we give them, for example, $20mil this year and keep the assessment at $153mil. What leverage do we have to demand an even greater settlement? Are you implying that the best deal available was not negotiated? And if that is what you are implying, by all means, spell out what you think is the "special deal" worked out. Give us an idea rather than coy insinuations.
John Hayden April 26, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Does anyone know how much we've spent in legal fees defending this for 24 years?
John Hayden April 26, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Were you demanding proof that we were getting our money's worth, as taxpayers, for 24 years of legal fees? Not for nothing, but if my lawyer couldn't produce results after 1, 5, or 10 years, I think I'd have to find new representation.
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 05:22 PM
And, Ken, you may get your wish eventually (but maybe not in this case) if S-1451 and S-1452 (Revising the OPRA and OPMA acts) get passed, which will require all executive and subcommittee meetings to produce minutes. Let that be a warning to ALL politicians who use back room deals.
Another voice April 26, 2012 at 05:25 PM
The "accounting software" only allows them to check back the last 10 years. According to the township's presentation, it amounts to $3 million in legal and professional fees over the last 10 years.
Bryan Littel (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 05:28 PM
And roughly $1 million of that is for their special tax counsel alone.
Ken April 26, 2012 at 05:56 PM
sorry i should have made it a question, not a coy insinuation. i don't know if the deal could have been better. i only question is it the best, i don't know.3 mil over 10 years has been the best deal so far, can we continue that for anther 10 years? this does seem to be the best settlement we've seen, but then again NO ONE in this town ever bothered to come out to a meeting or ask about how it was going for the last 24 years. i think it's a good thing people from both sides are questioning everything the committee has brought up.it's refreshing to know people care. just one guy's opinions.
General Ray April 26, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Chintall & cianfarini have now sent out a memo that no employee can have any communication with friends, family, etc. while they are at work. This town is quickly becoming a communist empire under this current regime. Another violation, this time the 1st amendment. Have a great day comrades.
Peace-loving Hippy April 26, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Ancora is a facility for individuals who have a serious chronic mental illness. Please stop the stigma!
Ken April 26, 2012 at 08:20 PM
not because he's republican, because it's the way he was raised at his last job, STATE POLICE GESTOPO MENTALITY, it'll get worse. we'll just have to grin and bear it for a while.
jason young April 26, 2012 at 09:24 PM
KEN! isn't that Barbie's boyfriend doll.but in this case SWEENEY"S doll.You really don't know what you are talking about.I'm sure you don't have a degree in finances and tax assessmnets.oh by the way Montana Diane is my wife and we are independent.I assure you I would definitely not affiliate myself with any one party. I noticed it's always the same people on here.about every morning i give my regards to mr. sweeney at heritages before he goes to rw for his morning workout. He could care less about the residents of this township,just drive away in that bright new shiny cadillac with the ss license plate that my and your taxdlooars pay for.PATHETIC.
WDNeedsHelp July 18, 2012 at 05:05 PM
General, When I'm paying an employee through my tax dollars I do NOT expect to see them standing around talking on a cell phone. My streets are in horrible shape, the playground in my town looks like one abandoned in Camden and my leaves sat out for well over a month in the fall. Yes it's time for a good ol commie butt kicking in this town if you as me.
WDNeedsHelp July 18, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Time for Steve Weeney to pack up and move out of OUR town. I frankly have had enough of this idiot and the crap he is doing here and up in Trenton. Texting bans and Gay Marriage laws when NJ is billions in debt because to the Corzine Dems and all the ones he proceeded. Highest taxes in the Nation with no relief in sight. Thanks Steve you're doing a bang-up job for us.

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