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DEP losing money on State land leases

August 3rd, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Oil & gas companies, luxury boats/Marina’s subsidized while Park Visitor Fees Increase

Today’s Asbury Park Press and Morris Daily Record are reporting that the Department of Environmental Protection’s management of leases, easements, and concessions is in disarray, and losing lots of money.
This news comes after Governor Corzine threatened to close state parks and raise parking and entrance fees:
State loses money on leasesDEP’s lease program disorganized — but at what cost?
Tenants know how it works: Rent goes up every year, and if it’s not paid they get evicted.
But for years when lessees did not pay New Jersey for using the state’s parklands, they didn’t even get a slap on the wrist. As the value of the land they occupied went up, some kept paying the same rate.

The DEP has 232 leases currently on file — which include family homes, education centers and utility lines — but no complete list is available. Staffers currently are combing through state park files to find the total number, which they estimate to be upward of 300. A review of records from the State House Commission, the state panel that oversees such agreements, shows at least 10 agreements approved since 2006 that are not included on the list.
…Raising park user fees may wind up plugging the park’s budget hole, but Wolfe says the state is going after the wrong people.
“(Gov.) Corzine’s willing to raise park user fees, but he’s not willing to say the corporations who are using these lands have to pay up,” Wolfe said
Look DEP – in case you can’t find it in your files. This is an easement – Texas Eastern Pipeline across D&R Canal State Park

Texas Eastern Gas Pipeline crosses D&R Canal State Park just north of Lambertville
  1. nohesitation
    August 3rd, 2008 at 14:07 | #1

    test comment

  2. unprovincial
    August 3rd, 2008 at 21:44 | #2

    No surprise here. At DEP, the people put in charge of billing and invoicing are often given the positions because of who, not what they know. Take Site Remediation for instance. It was reported to staff months ago that some Responsible Parties had not been billed for staff time to review and supervise remedial work going back to the 1980s!!! How can that happen? No one had an answer but I think we all know the truth: no one cares to go after the money because it goes to Treasury anyway. I bet they would be more proactive about getting the polluters to pay their invoices if the money went directly to DEP. But that doesn’t excuse the mismanagement and bad accounting. The problem is that DEP puts people WITH NO ACCOUNTING BACKGROUND into positions normally held by accountants in the private sector. Sometimes they are people who simply got tired of their technical or clerical job and if they are connected to some rising star, then they hang onto their coat tails. It’s the DEP way.

  3. nohesitation
    August 4th, 2008 at 08:24 | #3

    unprovincial – you speak from experience.
    I wish the press, public, and legislature understood how much money was involved – the last audit of DEP RTK and SRP programs found something like $10 million in uncollected fees and fines.
    Did that audit consider the oversight costs you are talking about?
    If not, why isn’t DEP subject to comprehensive audit?

  4. unprovincial
    August 5th, 2008 at 19:24 | #4

    What is disturbing is that although DEP is now spending the time (and money) to recoup some of those back fees, they are unrecoverable in the case of a Responsible Party dying or going bankrupt. Lost opportunity. And of course there is no interest on all that money that remained with the Responsible Party for up to 20 yrs because it was DEP who dropped the ball. And is anyone held responsible? Of course not! This is government! The only thing that MIGHT happen is that those who let it happen before will be promoted “out of the way” to a higher paying position.
    As for the audit, I think it was comprehensive but I don’t know. One thing Corzine has done (or those he appointed) was more audits. However, instead of changing how the billing is done and who is doing it, it’s pretty much business as usual. There may be a change in who is in charge because there are new suckups for a new administration but no heads will roll…………and these mgmt types aren’t in the union. Their only protection is what it has always been: their friends and family in high places.

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