Reader Mail: Politics and the Budget
Unsure if the local paper would ever publish her letter to the editor, one Hoboken411 reader also sent me her feelings about the “posturing” that councilmen Peter Cammarano and Ruben Ramos displayed in a recent letter.
I won’t vote for you
I was happy to read Councilmen Ramos and Cammarano’s lengthy letter regarding the budget crisis. Now we know where they stand. Although I agree with with their statement that drastic cuts must be made with no sacred cows, it was their vote to waive the cap on the budget that proved to the taxpayers that they remain the status quo. Yes, it is shameful for the City of Hoboken to surrender the budget process to State, but the shame lies with the incompetent administration that has squandered and manipulated without regard, the taxpayers money. With their vote, Ramos and Cammarano were requesting to put the budget process right back into the hands that have dealt us this mess. To insinuate that their fellow council members have put us in a dangerous situation is sheer political posturing. In both scenarios, the end game is the same – heavy, unexpected tax hikes without apology or explanation. Frankly, I am relieved that the budget has gone to the State for review. While they are at it, perhaps they will take a closer look as to what else is wrong with this picture. As for Ramos and Cammarano, thank you for showing your colors so early in the game. Your vote has already eliminated you from my list of future candidates.”
Read the letter in question after the jump…
(politics and the budget, continued…)
From Peter Cammarano and Ruben Ramos:
During the past few weeks much attention has focused on the financial woes of the City of Hoboken. The City Council continues to address issues arising from fiscal mismanagement by the Administration and its consequences. We believe some accounting of this complicated process is in order.
Very simply the City has spent more money in this fiscal year than is permissible under State law. The largest share of blame for this lamentable state of affairs resides with the Administration, which is ultimately responsible for creating the budget as well as all hiring and purchasing decisions. However, no matter where the blame rests, this hole has been dug, and the City Council has a critical role to play in removing the City from its predicament. The first step that must be taken is to allow the City to acknowledge its overspending and ask the State for permission to pass a budget that is legal.
During a special City Council meeting last Sunday, June 1, a majority of Council members voted to not allow the City to ask the State for permission to pass a legal budget. We did not vote with the majority of the City Council on this question, and we consider the action taken by the Council to have been unwise and dangerous for the taxpayers of Hoboken. If the City cannot ask the State for permission to pass a legal budget at this point, then the State itself will pass the City’s budget. This will almost certainly involve the immediate raising of taxes in the fourth quarter to cover the Mayor’s $11.7 million shortfall in the budget. The State’s intervention in this process will likely result in a 50 percent increase, on average, for the Hoboken taxpayers’ levy compared to the last quarter. We voted to avoid this outcome but we could not convince the majority of the Council to join us.
It is shameful for the City of Hoboken to surrender to the State of New Jersey its ability to influence the municipal budget process. It is folly to cast a vote that could pave the way for an exponential increase in property taxes. And while we certainly share the other Council members’ intense frustration with the Administration’s reckless spending and lack of candor, we consider it irresponsible to purposefully relinquish our statutory duty to pass the City budget.
We are committed to support any measure that will lessen the impact of the fourth quarter tax levy, but we must act promptly as time is short. Any Council member who assumes that the State will pass a budget that is sensitive to the taxpayers of Hoboken is making a hazardous bet with other people’s money.
Going forward into next year’s budget, all options must remain on the table regarding consolidation or privatization of services, cuts in goods and services, and even reductions in personnel. There can be no sacred cows if we are to restore our fiscal house to order.
The need for swift action and resolve is urgent. While political theater has unfortunately been rampant during this process, it is imperative that this dire budget situation be addressed now before the residents are harmed by a State-imposed tax increase. The welfare of Hoboken’s residents and taxpayers remains our highest priority. We will never vote to jeopardize their interests or forfeit the City’s financial fate to outside forces.”
Yours very truly,