Mason pushing for state meeting
6/5/2008 Press release:
Received the following note from Beth Mason’s camp this afternoon. As a reminder, all council members are openly invited to share their messages with the Hoboken411 readers.
Wants forensic accounting
“Following a recommendation of the city council last night, Mason is working today to arrange a meeting or conference call among the City Council and the State’s Department of Community Affairs, which oversees municipal budgets.
Mason said the council and the public needs a clear understanding of what exactly what the state can do and is willing to do to help the city correct its budget problems.
“We need to thoroughly understand what the state can and cannot do and what kind of decisions the council and the administration have to make in order to rectify our budget problems,” said Mason.
“There is significant distrust right now between the city council and the mayor over budget figures, And there is also concern about the accuracy of the administration’s statements regard the scope of the state’s intervention,” said Mason.
Mason is insistent however that the state’s intervention and any subsequent compromise by the city council on the budget, is not a one shot option. She says the state and the council must consider not just the 2008 budget, but the 2009 budget year, which begins July 1.
“The options on the table fail to address the core financial problems: excessive spending and borrowing. We need to start working on the 2009 budget at the same time as we address the 2008 problems.”
Mason has been asking the administration for weeks for 2009 budget figures and has floated the possibility of bringing in a forensic accounting team to help the council get a better picture of the city’s spending and borrowing problems.
“There is a limit to the guidance the state can provide for us,” said Mason. “The state is not going to undo years of bad financial decisions. The state may not have the resources to dig deep into the city’s financial problems.
“The city council needs to know where he state help ends and what we have to do then to pick up the pieces and move forward,” added the councilwoman.
RESISTANT TO BORROWING
Mason has resisted offers to extend the city’s borrowing to cover the 2008 budget gap to level out the city’s inevitable tax increase over five quarters.
“Borrowing more money now to plug a budget hole does nothing to solve the looming financial crisis that starts all over again in the 2009 budget,” said Mason.
“It would be deceptive to taxpayers if the council and the administration engaged in a borrowing scheme and then failed to tackle the structural problems that – left unaddressed – will lead to, not a one time tax increase, but a bigger tax increase down the road,” says Mason.