Have you heard the stories about the government spending six-million dollars on a roll of toilet paper?
As funny as it may sound, it’s no joke. It happens daily and it has been for decades.
This true story de-mystifies the riddle, although remember, we are talking about the county government, so don’t expect it to make much sense.
Let me first explain that there are two types of government funds:
- Use it or lose it funds, which are your taxes. Commonly referred to as “The Budget”.
- Dedicated funds, which are typically grants from state or federal agencies, or private entities, such as business.
The use it or lose it fund/ budget is hashed out between the freeholder board and the county administrator. Each county department is studied to determine what it costs to operate, and that’s what your taxes pay… Or at least, that’s how it should be.
Simply put, if Atlantic County needs $100 a year to run, and there are 100 residents, then each resident pays $1 a year for taxes.
So why is this dubbed “use it or lose it”? Because if there’s any money left un-spent, then they have to give it back to us and they won’t get it the following year.
Enter the six-million-dollar role of toilet paper.
Using our previous example; a $100 annual budget, but the county administrator only spent $80 to run the county this year. If we find out that there’s $20 left over, then we’ll want it back!
But there’s little chance of that happening, because Public Works just needed to buy a roll of toilet paper, and coincidentally, it cost $20. Coincidence indeed.
So now what about the dedicated revolving fund? Well that’s easy… It’s exactly what it sounds like.
Funds go into it, but whatever Atlantic County doesn’t spend, carries over to the next year and continues to accrue. So why is it such a big secret?
Because the money is obtained from numerous sources, under the condition that the Atlantic County Government will use it to provide services to the community, which they don’t, and therefore, the fund grows at an alarming rate. Then, when the county gets audited, this fund shows as an excess budget, so it appears as though they’re doing a good job.
Here’s an example; the State of New Jersey gives the Atlantic County Government $100 to buy mosquito equipment, but the county doesn’t buy it. That $100 stays in the county’s account, so it looks like the county has a lot of money left over in their budget.
The problem is, that money can only be spent on mosquito equipment, which will never actually be purchased… So it’s useless to us as a community, but it’s a rare and powerful means for our elected officials to deceive us.
How does Atlantic County get away with it? They hire a constituent accounting firm, who only looks for what they tell them to look for.
If you’re wondering how then all of Atlantic County’s audit results are outstanding, it’s because:
- The county is hiding the money from the accounting firm.
- The accounting firm is a constituent, so isn’t really looking for any discrepancies.
- The accounting firm doesn’t know state and federal regs. So, they have no idea that the county isn’t allowed to keep funds, for work which was never performed.
The following is a true story.
An employee went to Deputy County Administrator Diana Rutala; and requested that she purchase a piece of equipment, so that the county could participate in a statewide task force.
Rutala did not buy the equipment, so Atlantic County was the only county in the State of New Jersey, which was not able to participate.
When questioned why she didn’t buy the piece of equipment, Rutala replied, “this is a long and involved process, which requires our finance people to review all of the departments in Atlantic County, in order to determine who has an excess”.
The officer asked, why don’t we just use the $700,000 that the State of New Jersey gave us to protect the community with?
Rutala replied, because we need to take the money from a department with an excess, or we’ll lose that money next year.
As a result, our community was deprived of protection and services, which the State of New Jersey had already paid for, using non tax dollars, and all because it didn’t serve the agenda of Levinson and Rutala.
To add insult to injury, Rutala eventually purchased the equipment, using an Atlantic County tax budget excess instead. She also purchased it several months after it was no longer needed… making it a total loss on all accounts.
Rutala isn’t having difficulty balancing the budget because there’s not enough money in it… She’s having difficulty balancing the budget, because she has to hide so many things from the tax payers, the accountant, the freeholder board, the media, and the state and federal govt.
So the next time we hear Levinson bragging about his “habit of promoting female employees”, let’s ask “Who”, and then take a closer look at their qualities and why they’re being promoted.