City Council Meeting: 5/5/2010
See video archive of city council meeting after the jump…
The only Hoboken preview you’ll ever need!
A new trick to hide the real cost of Hoboken’s ever-expanding budget, nearly two and a half million dollars in spending shifts, and another two million bucks in borrowing to build a place to handle the city’s fleet are the highlights of tonight’s city council meeting agenda. Read on for the original (and always champion) Hoboken411 preview…
A new Municipal Garage… but WHERE?
Which neighborhood will be next to suffer through the endless comings and goings at all hours of the day and night of garbage trucks, snowplows, and other heavy equipment? The most closely guarded secret at City Hall these days is where Mayor Dawn Zimmer plans to relocate the Municipal Garage. Will it be YOUR neighborhood?
Tonight a public hearing and final vote will be held to bond $1,980,000 to build a prefabricated steel building for a new garage. Nowhere in the bond ordinance does it say where this two million dollar building will be built. Why the secrecy? Because Zimmer wants the prefab garage built on the new site before the neighborhood in question has a chance to mobilize against it. If your neighborhood has a decent sized piece of open land, it could be you.
Mad rush to move $2.4 million bucks
Just weeks after adopting a budget the City Council was asked to add dozens of “special items” not included in the original spending plan. Now the Zimmer administration is shifting $2,424,986.00 from overfunded line items to underfunded line items within the budget Finance Committee Chair Michael Lenz claimed was “fully funded” just two months ago. It’s the same kind of end-of-the-fiscal-year money moving that former Mayor Dave Roberts used to do, and former “regular citizen” Lenz used to complain about. Oh, the irony.
New Zimmer budget gimmick: Change the budget year!
It’s the latest in municipal chicanery sweeping New Jersey, and now it’s coming to Hoboken. How does a city front-load all it’s state aid money and push the next budget battle well beyond the spring 2011 ward elections? By changing the budget schedule, of course! Currently Hoboken’s budget year starts on July 1 and ends in June. Now the Mayor wants to dump the “Fiscal Year” budget system and move to a calendar year. Why make the change now? Politics, and Hoboken’s never-ending election cycle, of course.
Just the latest attempt to lull the public to sleep
Hoboken411 has obtained a memo from State Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi spelling out why the administration should consider the move. Tripodi says:
That’s right. A full year of State aid totaling $11,113,035.00 would be spent by Zimmer in just 6 months from July to December of 2010. According to the city’s financial consultants, this would allow Zimmer and Lenz to use the state aid to claim they cut taxes ahead of the November 4th ward Special Election, even though they only used a 6-month budget gimmick to do it.
But wait, there’s more… No budget battle before spring
Remember how Zimmer pushed the budget introduction past the last election? That’s what this move could do as well. Changing the budget year changes the timing of the introduction, hearing and adoption to beyond the May council election, giving Zimmer’s choices a leg up on the competition. Same playbook as last year: claim you have a big tax cut coming, but delay the budget until after the election.
So, how will the Zimmer team sell this?
They’ll point out some of the minor but legitimate reasons for changing to a calendar year, like making it easier to explain to people too dumb to understand what a Fiscal Year is (a top priority for sure).
They’ll also claim it will save $30,000 because they won’t have to mail an additional bill. Tripodi notes West New York, Guttenberg, and Kearny are doing it, so why not Hoboken? Lenz and Zimmer will go along with the plan to boost their chances of maintaining control of the council. Of course, they’ll call it “reform.” What will you call it when there’s a giant mess to clean up in the future?
See the full agenda here. The resolution pack is so messed up this week it will only confuse you. Much of what’s in the pack is not even on tonight’s agenda, and several items that are on the agenda are missing from the package the Mayor’s people posted on the city website. By design, incompetence or both? Hard to tell these days.
Video archive after the jump…
(Hoboken City Council Meeting of May 5, 2010 video)