Hoboken Budget Hearing – Recap II

11/18/2008 Part II Update:

Interested in hearing what the City Council members said at last night’s Budget Hearing?

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Part 2 – The Council Speaks

You read some of the highlights of the public’s turn at the microphone here, so now here’s a look at some of the comments from the City Council. There was frustration that most city directors and financial personnel didn’t show up to answer their questions. Though the directors of Environmental Services and Human Services were there, others including the head of the Parking Utility and Public Safety Director didn’t show, making it hard for the council to get questions answered about some of the biggest parts of the budget.

Russo outlines his proposed cuts

Budget and Finance committee chairman Michael Russo says he has identified a combination of changes to Judy Tripodi’s $121 million budget that could reduce it by $25.8 million, including:

  • Firing all employees who live outside of Hoboken
  • Firing all recently hired provisional employees
  • Eliminating seasonal employee positions
  • Unspecified demotions

Russo said “81 employees could be let go immediately,” along with 23 seasonal employees. Others suggested a mass firing would lead to many lawsuits that could cost the city dearly.

See more council talk after the jump…

(Hoboken Budget Hearings – Part II, continued…)

Moving the Muni Garage to 1600 Park?

The 3rd ward councilman also repeated his call to relocate the Municipal Garage to city-owned land between the Willow and Park Avenue bridges to Weehawken. The city bought the land years ago with the intent to develop it into a park, but it’s remained empty like so many of Dave Roberts’ parks promises. Russo says the city received grant money to purchase the property, but never used it to pay down bonds issued to pay for it! The city bonded to buy the 1600 Park property. Millions of grant dollars for parks is apparently sitting in a city account somewhere unused. Russo suggests that money would be better spent now securing land for the SW6 Park in southwest Hoboken.

But why move the Muni Garage to 1600 Park?

Russo says that is the ideal location to build a multi-municipality facility that could be shared with Weehawken right on the border of both towns. The city currently pays over a million dollars a year on the interest from the multiple mortgages on the downtown Muni Garage, which has been used to hide the growth in Dave Roberts’ budgets. The faster the city moves the Muni Garage, the quicker it can sell the Observer Highway property to the winning bidder for $25.5 million and pay off the bonds Roberts and his council majority took out on the property to keep taxes artificially stable.

The Two Terrys weigh in

1st ward councilwoman Terry Castellano said she had several suggestions, but felt under the circumstances she should run them first by fiscal monitor Judy Tripodi. Terry LaBruno seemed frustrated by all the talk of job cuts and demotions (she has several family members on the city payroll) and pooh-poohed the cuts, calling them “a wish list.” Castellano countered that the council “has the true numbers for the first time in seven years” noting they submitted a plan for cuts last year that Roberts ignored. She added Tripodi has told her a final budget could be in the council’s hands sometime in January. Russo noted Tripodi is still going through last year’s purchase orders trying to make heads or tails of them,

Hard to suggest cuts without answers

5th ward councilman Peter Cunningham also noted many of the council’s suggestions were made last year and that bills from previous budget years are just now getting paid. He also cautioned Russo to consider what city services would be cut if Russo’s widespread non-resident firings were to take effect. 2nd ward councilwoman Beth Mason noted she had requested all claims, checks written, and payments in an electronic format and had yet to receive them.

Members of the public also complained that there was a lack of transparency in the budget documents. Mason added the council had “Been around this tree enough”, saying they offer ideas and the administration ignores them. She said the council is not getting answers to questions.

Other meeting notes

Council President Nino Giacchi didn’t make the meeting because he is away on vacation this week. Councilman/Assemblyman Ruben Ramos hardly made a peep the whole meeting, remaining silent when a member of the public called for the elimination of his mother’s Office of Constituent Services.

In all the budget hearing lasted about two hours, with no formal action taken. Whether any of the suggestions from the council and the public are actually worked into the spending plan is apparently up to Judy Tripodi.

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16 Comments on "Hoboken Budget Hearing – Recap II"

CreativeAngel
Member
CreativeAngel

[quote comment=”119837″]#14- those are tactile warning strips. Intent is to help blind persons determine the edge of the curb cut. I was wondering why they’re suddenly necessary, and why in that particular location? If there’s a good reason, then no problem here. Just seemed odd to suddenly pop up like that randomly.[/quote]

I agree with your random pop-ups point. But the strips were long overdue and are now on quite a few street corners in Hoboken. I think that they’ll make it to every street corner, eventually.

This is a progressive move that I wholeheartedly support! 😀

hobojoe
Member

#14- those are tactile warning strips. Intent is to help blind persons determine the edge of the curb cut. I was wondering why they’re suddenly necessary, and why in that particular location? If there’s a good reason, then no problem here. Just seemed odd to suddenly pop up like that randomly.

#13- basically, what this firm (or more precisely, guy) does is log on to a bunch of internet forums and post a barrage of marginally-true information about their candidate under a slew of different screen names, while misrepresenting themselves as ‘concerned citizens’, ‘uninformed newcomers who want to get involved’ or ‘old timers who know what’s best’. One has to wonder – if a candidate needs to rely on misrepresentation to get themselves elected, will anything really change once they’re in office?

Litteredboken
Member
Litteredboken

Apropos of budget, though very minor… I saw that on the corners of, at the very least, 4th and Washington, they re-bricked the corners, so now isn’t of all the bricks just being red, they are a contrasting brown diagonal pattern. I walk this corner almost every day and never saw any issues with the old bricks.

Now this is all fine and dandy, but isn’t fixing what doesn’t need fixing a waste of time, energy, and money? Can we not just spend the money on something useful, oh, say, PUBLIC GARBAGE CANS.

I know we all have our issues. but come on, why pretty the street corners and not provide basic cleanliness first. I live halfway down between Washington and Hudson, by McD’s. I see soooo much of their trash on the streets here because, given NO TRASH CANS, they are gonna be lazy and drop their trash, waiting for the Hoboken Manual Garbage Man Brigade to pick up after them.

I make the equation now, because in no world can it be more cost effective to pay the men to pick up trash instead of providing cans and reminders to citizens!

Can I solicit local businesses to sponsor a garbage can on a street corner, or is that something I need “city permission” for?

stevens32
Member
stevens32

[quote comment=”119751″]Cammarano’s Facebook entry and website are courtesy of the same internet political consulting firm that came to Hoboken411 to lead the online message charge for Chris Campos in the fourth ward election.

This is the work of White Horse Strategies. They will be painting a false picture of Peter Cammarano between now and the election hoping to fool as many new voters as possible. Be sure to let your friends and neighbors know about the real Peter Cammarano.[/quote]

In case any of you are curious about White Horse (from their website http://www.whitehorsestrategies.com):

White Horse Strategies is a cutting-edge communications firm specializing in strategic messaging, political outreach, dynamic design, online fundraising and netroots organizing.

We take pride in being at the forefront of political, messaging and technological trends to make certain you have the best advantage to get your message across – both online and offline.

We’ll help you develop fresh, creative ways to cut through the noise and communicate with those who matter most.

truth1
Member
truth1

Regarding Peter Cam. Here comes the Judge! (Judy or?) In any event you will be judged by the public as to how big a part you played to help cause this disaster. The budget was overspent for the last six years, according to Judy Tripodi (Fiscal Monitor)and you were at his side for most of this period. 💡

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