• VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance Thursday, Nov. 20 that would offer tax exemptions for certain property owners who make improvements or build anew.

    Officials are hoping a tax incentive would spur new construction that complies with new flood elevation standards and help the city improve its FEMA flood insurance rating, which would equate to discounts for residents on the cost of flood insurance.

  • CAMDEN – A federal court today issued a temporary restraining order to stop the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers shore protection project in Margate.

    The order came after Margate filed a legal suit in U.S. District Court to stop the state and Army Corps from building sand dunes on the city’s beach.

  • TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced Nov. 20 that Ventnor City would receive a $501,000 grant to restore historic City Hall. The building was one of four in Atlantic County selected for Sandy Disaster Relief Grants for Historic Properties to fund the preservation, stabilization, rehabilitation and repair of New Jersey historic structures that were damaged by the storm.

    Other Atlantic County structures awarded grants include Fire Station 3 in Atlantic City, which received $338,289, Fire Station 2 in Atlantic City $205,649 and Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point $102,400.

  • MARGATE – Local firefighters and EMS workers who routinely arrive at drug overdose calls are now carrying the life-saving antidote, naloxone.

    Chief Anthony Tabasso made the announcement at the Nov. 6 Board of Commissioners work session meeting.

  • MARGATE – City Clerk and Tax Collector Tom Hiltner will resign from both positions Jan. 1 and receive $260,000 payable in installments over the next two years as part of a settlement reached in his whistleblower lawsuit against the city.

    Under the agreement, the city will also give Hiltner $12,000 a year for the next eight years for health insurance, and pay $50,000 in attorney fees to Jacobs & Barbone, his attorneys.

  • MARGATE – Despite differences of opinion regarding the dunes issue, the Board of Commissioners Nov. 6 agreed to uphold the wishes of the voters and proceed with an effort to stop the state and Army Corps of Engineers from building sand dunes on the beach.

    Congratulating the advocacy group Margate Citizens Questioning the Beach Project, which lobbied to fight the dunes project, Commissioner Brenda Taube said she would join Commissioner Maury Blumberg and Mayor Michael Becker in support of voters who passed a nonbinding referendum Nov. 4 that asked if they wanted the city to spend up to $200,000 in legal fees to try to stop the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps from proceeding with the project. The unofficial vote count was 1,140 yes, 1,091 no. Provisional ballots are still being counted. Certification by the Atlantic County Clerk is expected Monday afternoon.

  • VENTNOR – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has awarded $230,000 in Post-Sandy Planning Assistance grants to help the city become more resilient to storms.

    Mayor Michael Bagnell said the grants will help the city plan for the future after several years of struggling with the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, which flooded the city in October 2012.

Commission considers settlement with Hiltner

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MARGATE – The Board of Commissioners met in a closed-door meeting Thursday, May 29 to review its options to settle a whistleblower lawsuit brought by City Clerk and Tax Collector Tom Hiltner.

Hiltner sued the city, Mayor Michael Becker and Commissioner Brenda Taube in April 2012 to expose what he claimed were violations of the state’s pay to play laws regarding the commission’s appointment of a new auditor, and harassment by Taube, who said there was a “pattern of misbehavior” in Hiltner’s handling of city business, including the loss of more than 3,000 beach badges that was found by the new auditor.

According to Solicitor Scott Abbott, who reported what happened following the hour-long meeting, the commission discussed settling the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in July.

“We discussed the upcoming trial and the possibility of settling the case. We were just updating public officials at this meeting,” Abbott said after the executive session.

Abbott said that although the city is being defended by David Rapuano of the firm of Archer and Greiner in Haddonfield, he was acting as a conduit to relay discussions about the possible settlement.

The terms of the potential settlement were not revealed.

Although the board took no action to settle the case, it did agree to ask its insurance carrier, the Atlantic County Municipal Joint Insurance and Municipal Excess Liability Fund, to review the case.

“The JIF has acknowledged some responsibility, but not full responsibility,” Abbott said, although he and Taube and Becker believe the city has good standing in the case.

Under the terms of the policy, the JIF could pay up to 50 percent of the cost of the city’s legal expenses up to $100,000.

The court and city would prefer to see the issue resolved rather than incur the expense of a full trial, he said.

Becker and Hiltner each declined comment for the story.

In an email Taube said she feels the case is highly defendable, but would consider a settlement if it were in the financial best interest of the city and if Hiltner retires.

The city has spent nearly $125,000 so far to defend the lawsuit, and costs would climb considerably if it goes to court.

Hiltner, 55, currently earns more than $150,000 a year as the city’s keeper of records and as tax collector. He is also enrolled in the State Health Benefits program.

He has more than 20 years of service and is eligible for retirement.

 

 

 

 

 


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