The ethics complaint filed against the former Sussex Borough attorney exposes “Team Parrott’s” agenda for the Borough and it’s water system.
Eric Obernauer from the New Jersey Herald described the ethics complaint filed against the former attorney for Sussex Borough John Ursin.
Working for the citizens of the Borough in 2001 as its attorney, Ursin attempted to collect more than $120,000 in past due taxes and utility bills owed by the Sussex Inn. The owner of the Sussex Inn was Chris Parrott, who was also the mayor of the Borough. (He is not to be confused with Jeff Parrott, who is Sussex County Clerk.) The complaint states that Ursin failed to disclose that at the same time he was employed by Mayor Parrott in his own attempt to collect money on which the borough also had a claim.
The audio clip below, provided by the New Jersey Herald, provides about twenty-four minutes of conversation from the April 5, 2011 meeting of the Sussex Borough Council meeting. In it, Sussex resident Linda Masson, who was elected to the council herself the following year, questions the council members on this matter.
In the recording (at 4:10) you can listen to Ursin deny his engagement by Parrott and strongly object to the question. Masson goes on to further allege that the Mayor received preferential treatment by the Borough, by allowing his overdue utility payment status to be changed from ninety-plus days overdue to zero-to-thirty days, on reports she had received. The Borough also kept the property away from having a Sheriff’s sale to recover the money owed.
In the discussion (starting around 12:30), Mayor Parrott states that he ran for mayor to serve his own interests, explaining that felt the water and sewer rates were too high to effectively run his business. His move clearly didn’t work. He entered into a payment plan for the overdue balance but failed to keep pace with the payments. In 2013 the Inn received $515,000 compensation from the State for its purchase of about one seventh of an acre of the property for the Route 23 expansion. That settled the outstanding balance, but the Inn quickly fell behind again on its tax and utility payments and is now almost $70,000 in arrears.
In December, current councilman Ed Meyer was nominated by the Sussex County Republican Committee to serve for ten days as mayor, filling the vacancy left by former mayor Jonathan Rose, who took a position on the Board of Freeholders.
His nomination was signed by the Republican committee members as “Team Parrott”. Meyer was busy in those ten days. Less than a day after saying he had no plans to veto two recently passed ordinances, he vetoed two of them. One required a referendum on any future sale of the borough's water utility. The second would have amended the borough's water fee structure for restaurants to include outdoor seating, protecting the Sussex Inn from paying additional water fees for its outdoor seating.