Mason seeks cooperation
Like I’ve mentioned before, if any elected official wants to send Hoboken411 their press-releases, please do!
Mason addresses calls for cooperation on budget
In response to calls for cooperation on the Hoboken Municipal budget in light of the city’s budget problems, Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason issued the following statement.
Cooperation in government is a buzzword we hear a lot about, mostly as an antidote to partisanship. But too much cooperation leads to laziness and capitulation when what is called for is confrontation. Effective democracy demands confrontation – a challenge to the status quo.
The City Council was presented with a budget that was out of balance. The administration’s budget plan was and remains an unsound financial document. Since the budget’s introduction, some of us on the council have tried to do our jobs and have asked tough question about the budget. We asked about the mayor’s plans to sell the city garage, for instance, and about the ultimate cost of the mayor’s proposed early retirement plan. We even asked about how much the city spends on cell phones and who has them. We have not received satisfactory answers.
Read the rest of her press release after the jump
I cannot speak for the entire council, but as an elected official I believe strongly in having the facts before I make decisions or cast votes. I do not and will not rely on vague predictions or assessments that are made without documentation. The Roberts Administration has excelled at providing little or no information, or information that is, at best, misleading or incomplete.
The fact that the city is less than 45 days from the end of the current fiscal year and a city budget has yet to be adopted is not the fault of the council – nor is it the result of 2009 election politics. The fault rests with the administration and those who have supported delay after delay in the formation of a RESPONSIBLE budget. The council needs to make decisions based on facts and historical data. I did seven years of budget research and I knew the mayor’s budget was a phony when it was given to us.
Irresponsible spending, stop gap borrowing, fiscal gimmicks over the past seven years have brought Hoboken to the brink of a fiscal crisis, which the administration fails to recognize – or deal with. There has been no real, rational spending plan since the mayor was elected. Money is spent freely without thought of the future. The administration is top heavy with overpaid directors, who enjoy hefty raises that are unjustified based on performance. We continue to give tax breaks to developers, while our rank and file employees are forced work with outdated computers and the police department has to contend with broken down cars and radios that are held together with duct tape and chewing gum.
At this point the council is being asked to approve a controversial, and perhaps illegal, $3.7 million bonding scheme to close a budget gap for a fiscal year that ends on June 30. With a new fiscal year beginning on July 1, the council has been given no information about how big a deficit the city faces. We have no knowledge of the administration’s fiscal 2009 spending plans. Predictably, months will pass before a new budget is presented and it too will likely be filled with gimmicks.
The era of crisis management must end in Hoboken. The city can no longer spend more than it takes in. The council is finally saying enough is enough. The city can no longer depend on Trenton for bailouts. Trenton is broke and deeply in debt. And Hoboken is heading in that direction.
When editorial writers mention that Mayor Roberts has a “spending blueprint” I must ask – what blueprint? A blueprint implies a framework for current and future spending; the establishment of spending priorities, and identification of potential budget cuts. We have seen none of that.
The city needs a real budget with an honest assessment of spending priorities. We need a five year capital improvement plan that addresses our crumbling infrastructure problems and the needs of our community. We need parks – instead of glossy brochures. The city can’t continue to approve gimmicky spending plans and pass one year’s budget problems on to the next year.
Government cooperation? Yes cooperation is important when warranted. But Hoboken got into this financial mess because there was too much cooperation and not enough people interested in asking tough questions. Far more important than cooperation is fiscal integrity and government transparency. They seem to be lacking in city hall.