City Council – 4/2/2008 Preview
Has it been two weeks already? Yep. The Hoboken City Council meets again tonight with the budget tops on the agenda. Changes to the Fire Department table of organization, salary increases for highly paid employees, temporary emergency appropriations, and – if this wasn’t feeling enough like the Groundhog Day already – pedicabs are back on the agenda.
Budget Battle: Will Roberts show?
As the business world kissed a very hard first quarter of 2008 goodbye, the City of Hoboken entered the fourth quarter of its fiscal year still without an adopted budget. City Hall scuttlebutt says Mayor David Roberts will make an appearance at the meeting to continued to spin how his budget, which has gone from $52 million in 2001 to around $90 million today ($99 million if you include parking utility spending).
Roberts sat down with the Hoboken Reporter last week to “Complain about the Complainers” as the paper put it. Instead of focusing on how spending has skyrocketed on his watch, Roberts’ approach is to say “But we could borrow so much more now if we wanted to.” Let this be a lesson to you kids: as long as the pre-approved credit card applications keep coming in the mail, you can never spend too much money!
Looming: a $7 Million budget hole
At the beginning of the budget process Roberts again promoted using the Municipal Garage as a budget-gap filling piggy bank to avoid a tax increase. Roberts borrowed against the Muni Garage to fill a $7.9 million gap in 2005, $5 million in 2006, and this year suggested pulling another $4 million out of it.
The Roberts budget gap is now larger than first thought, and now the administration wants to borrow $7 million against the garage for this year’s budget. That would mean refinancing $20 million in borrowing against the value of the garage property to fill three years of budget gaps. The question is, who is going to lend that money in this environment?
Read more about the Fire Department, salary changes and the lovely Pedicabs after the jump!
(4/2/2008 Council Preview continued…)
Changes to the Fire Department
Public Safety Director Bill Bergin is responding to the problems in the Police Department by making changes to the Fire Department. Former firemen Bergin and Roberts want to change the Table of Organization in the HFD to:
- Reduce Rank of Deputy Fire Chief from 2 to 1, and eventually abolish the position (Deputy Chief Richard Blohm is the acting Chief while Chief John Cassesa burns accrued vacation time ahead of retirement)
- Increase the number of Battalion Chiefs from 7 to 9 (Councilwoman-At-Large Terry LaBruno’s husband has attained the rank of Battalion Chief)
- Increase the number of Fire Alarm Operators from 6 to 8 (How many people do you need to “Break glass here and pull handle?”)
- Create the position of Hazmat Captain
- Create the position of Arson Investigator/Captain (No wonder all those Delivered Vacant Hoboken fires went unsolved!)
- Rename the position of Fire Official/UFD Captain to Fire Marshal/Captain
- Rename the position of Training Officer/UFD to Training Officer/Captain
- Replace 2 Fire Prevention Specialist UFD titles with 2 Fire Inspectors
The Salary Ordinance is back
Remember back in November the council was supposed to pass a new salary ordinance to set the pay scales of city employees? It kept getting pulled from the agenda because (according to word on the street) the numbers kept coming in wrong. It turns the city was likely paying people more than the salary ordinance allowed.
The salary ordinance includes classifications and allocations for all positions not governed by a separate municipal contract. We don’t have the new ordinance up for a vote tonight because the city didn’t bother to post the updated version on the website. Instead, we can re-print the numbers from the November version with the caveat that some of these may be even higher in tonight’s version:
- Business Administrator (Dick England): $149,184.13
- Mayor (Dave Roberts): $129,895.39
- Corporation Counsel (Steve Kleinman): $129,796.40
- Parking Utility Director (John Corea): $114,265.83
- Construction Code Official (Al Arezzo): $114,265.83
- City Clerk (Jim Farina): $110,821.33
- Chief Financial Officer (George DeStefano): $110,821.33
- Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator (Joel Mestre): $97,614.59
- Secretary to the Mayor: $90,026.51
- Program Monitor (???): $90,026.51
- City Council Member: $24,129.29 and up
Pedicabs Pedicabs Pedicabs Pedicabs
The Pedicabs are back on the agenda. The latest 6-month moratorium on pedicabs is about to expire, so lawyers were paid to draw up a new version for tonight’s meeting. Apparently there was talk of introducing pedicabs in limited areas in town, but they weren’t limited enough for Council President Theresa Castellano who is once again sponsoring a moratorium.
City Council meets at 7pm at City Hall.