Another ordinance challenged

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Group opposes two new city jobs, petition planned

WILDWOOD- A group of concerned citizens calling themselves the “Wildwood Watchdogs” is again petitioning against a city ordinance.

This time, they are going after the creation of the beach utility, which established two new city jobs: a beach utility director and manager.

The jobs are unnecessary and a result of nepotism, according to the watchdog group.

The positions have been filled by Chris Fox and Ryan Troiano, the mayor’s son. 

According to Mayor Ernie Troiano, this utility will oversee revenue generated from activities on the beach, as well as beach fees, if residents approve implementing them in a March 5 binding referendum. Commissioner Pete Byron presented the names to the commission to fill the positions, Troiano said, and the mayor abstained from the vote.

Commissioner Pete Byron said that neither Fox nor Ryan Troiano have received any compensation for their roles with the beach utility, and that both were appointed to the utility when it was originally created last summer. Besides beach fees, Byron said, the utility will oversee all activities on the beach, from beach bars to cabana rentals.

Mayor Troiano admitted that he was not in favor of his son having another position within the city government; however, he said his son “has spent thousands of hours trying to better the city.”

“I haven’t seen any of those people doing anything but throwing muck,” Troiano said.

Troiano pointed out previously that the “Wildwood Watchdogs” is the same group of citizens that petitioned his recall in 2009.

“You lost the election. Man up and run for the next one,” said Troiano on Wednesday.

Former Mayor Gary DeMarzo, who lost his seat to the current administration, is one of the group’s organizers. The “Wildwood Watchdogs” have previously petitioned the purchase of land on Pacific Avenue for a possible year-round ice rink and the 50-year lease of the boardwalk Monster Truck Building. The current administration rescinded both ordinances.

DeMarzo said that the petition will need about 200 signatures to force a vote on the city’s plans to establish the utility and positions. He said the group is already beginning to collect those signatures and there has been “no hesitation” from residents to sign it.

“Wildwood currently faces millions of dollars in budget shortfalls,” a release from the group states. “And now before voters have had their say it is being decided to once again spend our hard-earned money on the salary, medical benefits and pension of another high-priced friend of our elected officials.”

With the city’s budget issues, DeMarzo said commissioners shouldn’t be looking to create jobs.

“We feel they should not be looking internally to create jobs,” DeMarzo said. “Let the private market create jobs and work with the money being collected by the city.”

He also added that the group is against the implementation of beach fees. However, some residents have expressed support of the fees because they believe it will help lower their taxes.

The group, DeMarzo said, sees the creation of the beach utility and managerial positions as premature.

“Our position is: get your house in order first,” he said.

“Before a dime of revenue is ever collected from the outrageous plan to charge beach fees, the Commissioner of Revenue and Finance is attempting to put in place measures to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on salaries for a select few whom he has become indebted to,” a release from the group states.

To Mayor Troiano, however, the petition is a politically-motivated attack.

“This has nothing to do with being a watch dog,” Troiano said. “These are people that are just trying to be contrary.”

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