I was fortunate enough to attend a Borough event where I could ask our mayor questions that had been on my mind. The public asked questions on topics which ranged anywhere from shared services opportunities; to the Mayor’s convictions on 4 ethics violations. However, there was one question to which the answer was particularly troubling.
My final question of the evening was for Mayor Budesheim which stemmed from a question that was asked earlier in the meeting. I asked Budesheim if he felt it was right for him to vote for a 33% pay increase for himself in 2013; especially in an economy where an increase over 3% would be considered generous. If you are not familiar with the procedure, pay increases for Borough employees or elected officials must be approved by the Council. This is done by adopting a written resolution by a majority vote of the Council Members. If the vote ends in a tie, the Mayor can choose to vote to break the tie or abstain. In this case, Budesheim did not abstain.
Though I certainly question using his tie-breaking vote for his own financial benefit, what has concerned me more was Budesheim’s response to my question. No less than 6 times did he deny that he ever voted on his salary and, in fact, he denied that a vote like I described ever took place in 2013. The Mayor challenged me as to my source, to which I explained it came directly from the “Minutes of Meetings” page on the Borough website. Listen below as he responds to my question.
Although the minutes were clear, Budesheim’s vehement denial was so convincing that I felt I needed to verify my information. What I found was the particular resolution in 2013 where he indeed was the tie breaking vote to grant himself the extravagant raise (see below).
As you can see by this official Borough document, on August 19th 2013 the Council was indeed split, 3 in favor and 3 against, enabling Budesheim to break the tie and approve his own raise. What was odd was that this particular resolution was conveniently missing from the Borough Website while all other resolutions from 2013 were present. In fact, I had to make a special request to the Borough to acquire a copy.
What was really disturbing to me though was not the extravagant raise, nor the missing document from the website; it was how comfortable he was sitting before a roomful of residents, lying about the entire thing. No shame, no remorse, just what he wanted us to hear and believe. If you listen to the recording you will hear him say that he is being paid now exactly what he was being paid in 2010. As it turns out, he was again deliberately misleading the public. In 2010, though is income may have been similar, he was receiving salaries for 2 different positions. One of those was for the position of OEM Coordinator, which he has since resigned. This is the same position for which the Department of Community Affairs found him guilty of 4 separate ethics violations for appointing himself to the position then continuing to collect the salary for it after resigning.
His flagrant act of dishonesty has destroyed the integrity of the position of Mayor in the Borough of Riverdale. Because of this selfish act, we as residents are now tasked with having to question everything from Budesheim’s campaign for re-election to the Office of Mayor. Each pamphlet, each letter, and every statement from him MUST now be scrutinized but we, the residents and tax payers, deserve the truth.
Is this what we should expect from our leadership? Is this who we want to represent us?
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