8/11/2010:

Taxpayers fleeced, massive slush fund uncovered

Are you sitting down?

Hoboken ended Fiscal Year 2010 with a surplus of nearly $20 million dollars.

That’s not a misprint. Ten days after the end of the fiscal year the city has to file a financial statement outlining any leftover cash, and what accounts the money is held in. Of the over $33 million “left over” from the year that ended June 30, $19,975,580.49 is money that is earmarked to NOTHING.

This state mandated document is public record, which is sent to the Department of Local Government Services in Trenton.

At the same time Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her council majority failed to offer any of their promised tax relief, they were administering a budget that ended the year nearly 20 million in the black. How? It’s largely due to Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi’s decisions to over-tax Hoboken citizens. When Tripodi came in she struck a tax rate that sent bills through the roof. She did this by throwing every known bill facing the city – and a massive, completely unnecessary contingency for delinquent taxes on top of it – into the amount of taxes raised. This was the infamous “47% Tax Increase” that had citizens rallying in the streets. Those non-recurring bills were paid, but the tax increase remained. Now those “Taxpayer Groups” are gone, and what’s left is a massive surplus and no tax relief.

Zimmer hikes kids fees, cuts cops with a $20 mil surplus

If you want your child to participate in city sponsored recreation programs you now have to pay a new Zimmer fee. In fact, the city even attached a Zimmer fee to registration for county kids programs, which the county is now demanding they refund. If you wanted to swim in the city-sponsored pool during the heatwave of June and July you couldn’t because “budget constraints” meant it wasn’t open until half the summer was over. All this while Zimmer was sitting on Tripodi’s $20 million dollar surplus.

Longtime city employees are being laid off under the banner of “belt tightening” when the budget is actually bloated by $20 million in un-encumbered cash. Maybe this is why Zimmer felt free to give her two closest aides massive raises the same week she was laying others off.

Whose money is it, anyway?

Un-elected 4th ward councilman Michael Lenz is the Budget and Finance Committee Chairman. During the budget process a few months ago he made it clear he felt Zimmer and her team were not elected to cut taxes, but to spend tax money differently than previous administrations. Here’s the video to prove it:

This should come as no surprise, as Lenz is a Hudson County employee who got his taxpayer-paid job via a legendary political patronage system. The question now: when did Lenz know he was supporting a budget that was stockpiling cash to the tune of nearly $20 million bucks? When did Zimmer know, and what will they do about it? How will Zimmer’s hallelujah chorus over at Hoboken Revolt react to news they were overtaxed? Will they demand their tax money back, or allow Lenz and Zimmer to spend it as they please? What do you think should be done with this Fund Balance?

Zimmer’s cuts had nothing to do with this

None of the layoffs Zimmer has announced have gone into effect, and won’t until the end of next month at the earliest. This is not a result of budget cuts. It appears to be caused by over-taxation and budgeting ineptitude.

Some Zimmer fans will claim the money is earmarked for something, but according to the city’s own documents it isn’t. They’ll claim 8 or 9 million is actually designed to pay off Dave Roberts’ overspending. That isn’t true because the city – including Zimmer – agreed to a 7-year plan to pay that off at $1.7 million per year. That money has it’s own line item. It’s not part of the Fund Balance.

How do you think the city should deal with this “surprise” windfall? Is the Mayor inept, deceitful, or both? Comment below on Hoboken’s most-read website by a landslide.

Hoboken NJ

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