Bad Policy

If you had a debt that was due on a stated date and on that date because of circumstances beyond your control and you could not pay (unemployed, medical, divorce proceedings, etc) and prior to this situation you always paid your debts and/or made arrangements so that the debt could be paid satisfactorily under an agreement between you and the lender, how would you feel if in as little as sixty days after the due date you found that your name was going to made public as a deadbeat? We are not talking credit reports here. The law limits creditors and lenders who have a legal right to such information, as to what they can and cannot do with that information once they have acquired it.

Your first reaction would probably be anger followed by embarrassment. How could they you would ask? What business is it of everyone else? Where do they get off?

Well if the new governing body takes up the former Mayor’s suggestion that if you owe a tax bill after December 31, your name will be made public, welcome to reality. At the December’s public meeting of our elected officials, the last for our outgoing mayor and 2010, Mayor DeIorio suggested that such a policy be given consideration. This policy which is in effect in Manasquan where he is employed as the Chief Financial Officer, and according to him, has given that municipality a bump in collections at year end.

Please keep in mind that this would be a policy and not an ordinance. Council members don’t have to vote on it and future members can easily deny that they agree with it and at the same time not get rid of it. So whose policy would it be anyway? Do you want your new mayor, who serves as the borough’s chief executive officer, allow such a policy to be in place?

Let me say this much about such a policy. It is simply wrong. Just like it is wrong for our elected officials to assume that the taxpayer wants big government. For the last three years we have been digging out of a recession which was caused by government regulations and policies. These actions had inflated property values and opened up the doors to predatory lending practices and eventually the collapsed of the banking system, equity markets, individual savings, IRAs and 401(k) plans. Many politicians, till this date, don’t see the connection between a 10% national unemployment rate and an equal amount of foreclosures and/or tax collection delinquencies.

During this same period closer to home, our local governing body, the Board Of Education, county freeholders and state representatives have all managed to find ways to increase our taxes. While on the other hand, most of the taxpayers are finding themselves with less working capital and are doing their best to make ends meet. So why would an outgoing mayor suggest to a new governing body to take up a policy that is sure to anger many taxpayers? Such a policy affects everyone, the working citizens, many with children in school, seniors on fixed incomes and/or social security, the unemployed who now worries whether their benefits will continue, and the disabled on disability that have nowhere to turn. Also do our elected officials think for one minute that should the names of our neighbors in trouble become public, this will attract potentially new homeowners to our community?

If anything, it will probably scare them into looking somewhere else and therefore having an effect on all our home values. Majority of Americans are not confident in the direction that our elected officials are taking this country on the national level and it would be equally unwise for this new governing body to fuel that anger to put such a policy in force when the taxpayer feels that they have lost a lot over the last three years.

I certainly hope that there will be no need to re-visit this topic again, but if it has to be, you will get it here.

– Kevin Murphy