Frank Balles, Republican candidate for Atlantic County Sheriff, today called on Sheriff Jim McGettigan to justify — if he?s able — his use of the county-issued, taxpayer-supported gasoline credit card 72 times in 22 months to fill his vehicle at private service stations rather than use the county pumps and save money.
?McGettigan filled the tank of his county car nearly once a week for almost two years at private service stations in Somers Point, Linwood and Mays Landing rather than use the county?s pumps at considerably less expense to the taxpayers,? Balles said.
?It is this kind of arrogant behavior, abuse of privilege and fiscal irresponsibility that create taxpayer anger and frustration, and understandably so,? Balles said. ?They have a right to expect their elected officials to act in their best interests, particularly when it involves spending the public?s money.?
Records obtained under an Open Public records Act (OPRA) request reveal that between October of 2004 and August of 2006, McGettigan used his county-issued credit card at private service stations running up bills of more than $2,700 for nearly 1,400 gallons of gasoline. The records also reveal that he purchased gasoline at a service station in Washington, D. C., on one occasion.
Based on a five-day work week, he filled the tank once every six days, Balles said, and even based on a seven-day week, the fill ups occurred every nine days.
?Either way it?s calculated, it?s inexcusable,? he said.
Balles said the records reveal McGettigan used the credit card at a station in Somers Point 41 times; in May?s Landing 20 times, and in Linwood five times. The remainder were at scattered other stops.
Balles, a captain and 25-year-veteran of the Pleasantville Police Department, called on McGettigan to explain his refusal to use the county gasoline pumps for nearly two years while sticking the taxpayers with the bill.
?The taxpayers deserve to hear his rationale for failing to do what other similarly-situated county employees do; that is, use the gasoline they bought and paid for as part of the cost of government operations,? Balles said. ?McGettigan?s abuse of the credit card was the equivalent of charging the taxpayers twice — once for fuel purchased by the county and again for fuel he purchased privately at a higher cost.?
The county gasoline is less expensive because there is no tax levied on its purchase.
?McGettigan?s abuse of the gasoline card was so outrageous that his charge privileges were revoked in 2006,? Balles said. ?Despite that, McGettigan continued his arrogant behavior by continuing to patronize private service stations and paying the bills out of his Department?s petty cash fund — also supplied by the taxpayers — until he was ordered to halt that practice as well.?
?McGettigan?s fiscal irresponsibility is an insult to the taxpayers,? Balles said. ?His disregard for how the public?s money is spent was evidenced last year when, asked for the amount of his department?s budget, he was unable to do so.?
?While more than 6,000 felony warrants go unserved by his Department and supplemental patrols to assist municipal departments have been eliminated, McGettigan doesn?t know how much his department is spending or for what purpose, other than his gasoline purchases, that is,? Balles said. ?His dereliction of sworn duty is monumental.?