Wednesday, February 21, 2024


Cape May Says It’s Dealing with Misuse of COAH Funds

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By Vince Conti

CAPE MAY – At the Nov. 15 Cape May City Council meeting, Robert Dreyfuss, publisher, Cape May Sentinel, used public comment to press officials for information on the $100,000 in affordable housing funds allocated to end-of-year bonuses for six employees, including the outgoing city manager, who issued the bonuses. 

Almost a year since the new city administration took office in January, the issue of the payments made in 2020 still lingers. 

The state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) reviewed the transactions and said they represented a violation of the city’s spending plan for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, but the agency added that it had no jurisdiction over the inappropriate use of the funds. 

The Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office then reviewed the matter following the DCA’s determination of a violation. The Prosecutor’s Office determined that no criminal charges were warranted. 

The New Jersey Fair Share Housing Center, a nonprofit given standing by the courts as a representative of affordable housing consumers, demanded that the city make the trust fund whole or face litigation. 

Through it all, city officials have told the public very little. While this is not unusual in a situation that involves employees and potential litigation, the message from Dreyfuss was that the public has a right to know that the city is acting on the issue. 

Council member Shaine Meier argued that very little wrong occurred and that Dreyfuss, through his publication, made the issue more than it is. 

Both Mayor Zack Mullock and Deputy Mayor Stacy Sheehan explained that they only learned of the checks when the city discovered the issue early this year. They said they had not been made aware of the issue when the bonuses were being paid in 2020, even though they were sitting council members.  

Meier, who was also a sitting council member then, declined to say whether he knew of the bonuses in 2020. 

City Manager Michael Voll said he was actively dealing with the situation and expected a resolution soon. City Solicitor Christopher Gillin-Schwartz said the issue “has not fallen into the abyss.” 

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