Special City Council Meeting 3/10/2010

3/11/2010 Update:

The financial footing of the City of Hoboken has a lot in common with the collapsing soccer field. Both were front-and-center at last night’s two-item Special Meeting.

Guess what your “Tax Cut” is now?

– Remember that 47% tax hike?
– Remember how Dawn Zimmer and her Council slate promised a 25% tax cut?
– Remember how Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi backed Zimmer up just days before the election?
– Remember how the introduced budget by outgoing Finance Director Nick Trasente included an alleged 8% tax cut?

Now with less the four months before the end of the fiscal year there’s a new set of budget amendments. Guess what the tax “cut” is projected to be now?

Hoboken tax cut in FY2010 Budget is meaningless 2

The new proposed tax cut? 0.54%!

No, not 54%. Not even 5.4%. That’s Zero-Point-Five-Four percent. One half of one percent, and even that could disappear before the fiscal year is up. It also means that if you weren’t among the many Hoboken taxpayers who successfully appealed your tax assessments last year, your taxes are going up! Feeling sold up the river? Your chance to complain comes next Wednesday night when the council holds it’s official Public Hearing on the $97.2 million final budget, which includes a $59.9 million property tax levy. You can’t say you weren’t warned. The budget amendments passed by a 7-1 vote, with 2nd ward Councilwoman Beth Mason the only dissenting vote. 1st ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano did not attend the special meeting.

$12 million dog and pony show

The first item last night was a Bond Ordinance that would authorize the $12 million dollars in borrowing to repair the Sinatra Park soccer field and the Castle Point waterfront walkway. Companies itching to grab a piece of that pie were on hand to answer questions from the council about why they advised Mayor Zimmer to propose the $12 million in borrowing, but the public was not allowed to ask them anything. Instead, Council President Peter Cunningham decided to allow public comment only before the presentations, leaving members of the public to speak without hearing from he “experts”. Many of them complained about this arrangement, and at one point even 4th ward Councilman Michael Lenz agreed it may have been out of order, but Cunningham overruled him and continued on his charted course.

Speakers ranged from those who said the city can’t afford this blank check-style bond ordinance for a non-emergency, to a number of soccer moms imploring the council to fix the field no matter the cost. The fix was in even before the meeting, and ultimately the vote was 7 to 1. Mason again the only dissenting vote, saying the bond ordinance was premature. Mason also expressed concern about Hoboken’s growing debt in the face of the unresolved Hospital and Municipal Garage situations, which are more pressing concerns than a soccer field which may be out of commission for at least two more seasons.

Read the original preview, watch the video, and read the chat AFTER THE JUMP – and above all don’t forget who has been telling you the truth about the Hoboken Budget from the very beginning.

3/10/2010 Update:

Sinatra Park Pier Collapse Hoboken NJ 12 million dollar bond

$12 million bond and new Budget Amendments ahead

Hoboken special city council meeting march 10 2010 smThe Hoboken City Council will hold a special meeting tonight at 7pm, but you won’t find notice of it on the official city website. Nope, nothing at all about the Special Meeting to borrow $12 million for repair of the Sinatra Park Soccer Field, or the fact that the the official Amendments to the FY 2010 budget will be introduced.

The lead story on the official Hoboken City website is the announcement of a public meeting that took place Monday night for input on what color to paint the new downtown pump station. The pages that hold council meeting info are also without any mention of tonight’s meeting.

City Clerk Jim Farina posted it up on his bulletin board at City Hall, but the website controlled by the Mayor’s office has no mention of the meeting.

Finance Director leaves before budget is adopted

Hoboken Finance director nick trasente quits jobFinance Director Nick Trasente is getting out of the kitchen just as the heat is about to be turned up.

Trasente was hired unilaterally by State Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi, whose tenure appears to be winding down following the changing of the guard in Trenton. Tripodi hired Trasente at $125,000 and also brought in Tax Collector Sharon Curran to replace Louis Picardo.

Tripodi doesn’t attend council meetings, so Trasente ended up being in the line of fire. He’s been hired as the Chief Financial Officer of Middletown Township.

Being a CFO carries more job security than being a Finance Director.

Should Hoboken have a Finance Director?

Councilman Michael Russo – whose Uncle George DeStefano is Hoboken’s CFO – is calling on Mayor Dawn Zimmer to eliminate the Finance Director position (saving money) and focus on handing those responsibilities to the next Business Administrator.

Hoboken hasn’t had a BA since Dick England resigned from the position. Tripodi has been acting as BA since she came to Hoboken. Even going back as far as a year ago there were rumors that, if elected Mayor, Dawn Zimmer would name Michael Lenz to be her Business Administrator. With Tripodi winding down, watch for wheeling and dealing that could place the appointed 4th ward Councilman in either the BA or Finance Director’s office ahead of the November Special Election.

Meeting on the big budget items starts tonight at 7pm.

Video Archive and Chat Transcript

Until next week!

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Friday, March 12, 2010 12:53 pm

One troubling trend out there is the many tax appeals that have been approved, which just this year were costing the city about $3 Million. Judy Tripodi recommended that the city bond to pay for it. That is reval for those who can afford it and it has become a niche-market for lawyers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 12:02 pm

My tax bill went up this year. I didn’t file a challenge to my assessment so I’m among those getting screwed. I didn’t believe Zimmer and her team when they promised to cut taxes 25%, but I expected a lot more than nothing, which is what we have now. If I were any of these people I’d be ashamed to face the public. Maybe that’s why I’m not a politician, and they are. No shame.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:14 am

An old saying “A reformer is only an out trying to get in.” In any event, we have an elected mayor and governing body that will soon regain the power and authority that is rightfully theirs if they can pass a budget that will be approved by the state. It is us, the citizens to hold them accountable and responsible and the power of the people is in the ballot box. However, we should become civically active, get to know the issues and do whatever is clever for our well being. It is our job to keep them in office or vote them out.

Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:08 am

Reformers they are. Anytime in Jersey that you see al elected body voted in under the slogan of reformers, they always scream the same thing. Lower taxes, cuts in staff, more transparency. And with most of them, once they are in, none have experience as governing,they think they are still reformers or activists and these administrations fail quickly. This administration is being faced with many allegations of conflicts of interest and forwarding personal agendas. The only thing I read in the papers weekly is that this administration wanted the police audit and now they want to adhere to it. Any cuts to public safety will bring a reduction in quality of life. I hope we as residents never have to experience that reality.

professor pinetop
professor pinetop
Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:42 am

political strategies and power acquisition seem to trump reform or even simply serving the people as the true agenda of the lenz/zimmer/kidsfirst troika. after starting their careers as reformers they are mired in the same kinds of issues as their predecessors (who were deemed as both corrupt and incompetent for the same sorts of conflict of interest issues). many of their actions suggest that they are trying to emulate the degise/healey/hcdo troika on a small scale. the literary analogy is that lenz and company are like tolkien’s saruman to degise’s sauron.

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