• MARGATE – An engineer and attorney hired to represent the city regarding the pending dunes project have questioned the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.

    Margate Administrator Richard Deaney provided a written update to the Board of Commissioners Sept. 18 about the progress being made by outside counsel and an environmental engineer hired to represent the city against the dunes plan. Deaney said the city has received a revised edition of the engineering plans for the dunes project, which is slated to begin in November, and is being reviewed by the city’s engineer.

  • VENTNOR – An engineering consultant last week recommended ways the city can become more sustainable and resilient to storms in the wake of hurricane Sandy.

    Stewart Weiser of Remington, Vernick and Walberg presented his Strategic Recovery Planning Report to the Board of Commissioners at its Sept. 17 meeting. The report was funded with a $30,000 grant that was made available to communities in the nine counties most affected by the storm. To qualify, municipalities had to show they lost at least $1 million in ratables as a result of the storm.

  • LONGPORT – The Borough Commission Sept. 17 passed a resolution that approved all the necessary documentation to start the long-awaited dunes project.

    Mayor Nicholas Russo signed an authorization for a state aid agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to construct the Brigantine to Great Egg Harbor Inlet Storm Damage Reduction Project

  • VENTNOR – The City Commission, Planning Board and Planning and Zoning Department are considering changes to the zoning and building codes to address a number of issues.

    On Aug. 21, the commission asked the Planning Board to review zoning for the R-7 District, which is zoned single family. The commission is asking planners to consider allowing duplexes as a conforming use in the zone.

    According to Zoning Officer Jimmy Agnesino, the area was once zoned for multifamily dwellings, but in the 1990s the city rezoned it for single family only.

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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