UNION COUNTY—Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority officials have spent thousands of dollars on parties while rates are rising steeply and citizens are losing their jobs and homes, according to Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce.
DeCroce released documents that show commissioners of the Rahway-based authority spent $4,198 for a holiday dinner at the Echo Lakes Country Club attended by 35 people and another $497 on 13 people at Ferraro’s in March.
“If a sewerage authority has money to burn on holiday parties held at an exclusive country club featuring Rock Lobster Tails, Lamb Lollies and Filet Mignon, then its rates are too high,” DeCroce, R-Morris and Passaic, said. “The spending at this agency is yet another outrageous insult to hard-working families who struggle with the nation’s worst tax burden that is aggravated by public officials who do not respect the public’s dollars whether they come from taxes or sewer rates.”
A detailed list showing questionable expenditures by the Authority and other public agencies such as the Atlantic City Visitors and Convention and New Jersey Sports and Exposition authorities, which has been uncovered by Assembly Republicans under DeCroce’s direction is available at www.njassemblyrepublicans.com.
Some of the findings include:
• $4,198 for the commissioners’ 2008 holiday dinner at the exclusive Echo Lakes Country Club, the “Hidden Gem of New Jersey Golf.” It included valet parking for all ($4 a person), a $450 disc jockey (who only accepts cash), Hors D’ouevres including Lamb Lollies, Tenderloin on Tuscan Toast and Shrimp on Sugar Cane Skewer, and entrees of Filet Mignon, Veal Marsala and Rock Lobster Tails washed down with $1,018 worth of beverages.
• $497 to celebrate one commissioner’s retirement at Ferraro’s with 13 people in March 2009. Bill included fresh fruit platters and nearly $150 worth of alcoholic drinks including Grey Goose, wine and a Bloody Mary with Ketel One.
• $1,812 for six employees to take the Acela Express business class to Washington DC in March 2005. There is no justification provided for why they did not choose a less expensive mode of transportation.
• The Weiner Lesniak law firm, of which Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) is a member, has represented the authority. Four randomly-selected vouchers show monthly bills ranging from $2,259 to $27,696.
DeCroce said the examples uncovered at the sewerage authority give more credence to an Assembly Republican initiative to combine the state’s duplicative auditing agencies, whose exposure of waste in government has often been ignored, into one Office of Auditor General, an independent elected position that would have the ability to recoup taxpayer dollars improperly spent and punish those responsible.
“Our existing auditing agencies are either beholden to those who appoint them or do not have the power to enact reform or justice for taxpayers when they unearth wasteful, fraudulent or abuse spending of public dollars,” DeCroce said. “We must give the public a powerful ally with the will to stand up for them against misuse of public dollars.”
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