City Council 12/20/2006 – Recap
Lots discussed, little accomplished at the Hoboken City Council meeting. Debating how to let people block their own driveways took up more council member time and energy than the proposed St. Mary Hospital takeover, Southwest Parks, or the budget that is now six months late.
St. Mary Hospital $52,000,000.00 Bond
As expected, the bond ordinance was on the agenda, but not acted on by the council, which will wait to hear from the state Local Finance Board. There was new information about the deal from George Crimmins, who is on the payroll as a special consultant both to the city and the Municipal Hospital Authority. Crimmins told the council they were given new copies of the Hospital Asset Transfer agreement between the city and Bon Secours, who is looking to unload it’s St. Mary albatross onto the city.
They were also given copies of the management agreement with Harvey Holzberg, who is currently being paid by Bon Secours to move the handover along. Though Crimmins admitted these agreements are now public record, he offered no copies to any of the members of the public who wanted to see them. Typical.
Southwest Parks Update
The Southwest Redevelopment Plan was pulled from the agenda, so people walking into the meeting were surprised and concerned to see two easels with big colorful renderings of parks and high-rise buildings in the corner of the room. The drawings were apparently part of the proposal by the people who own the Academy Bus Company, including lots of property in the Southwest. The park looked better than what the city’s planners came up with, but had huge high-rise buildings in the background.
Councilman Chris Campos was trying to say that this was part of “his” plan for the Southwest, but according to a person active in the Southwest Parks Coalition, he was giving incorrect information about the Academy proposal, as well as exaggerating his role in bringing it forward.
Fiscal 2007 Budget
The budget keeps growing with every union contract the city signs, but its still not adopted by the council. For the first time there was some explanation why it’s been delayed. The business administrator said the state will not sign off on the Mayor’s budget because it has a $3,000,000 hole in it listed as “revenue from sale of municipal garage.” The city had a chance to sell it last year and balked.
Also, the city is trying to get one of its developers to “front load” a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes. Think of it this way: You owe the city $10,000 in taxes each year, but they make you an offer to pay $20,000 this year, but only $2,000 for each of the next ten years. Who gets the better deal? Now take that and multiply the numbers by a hundred and you have just figured out how David Roberts is taking money this year that we won’t have in years to come, leading to a big tax increase after he’s long gone.
Council members Michael Russo and Theresa Castellano voted against the “temporary emergency appropriations” because the city is now six months into the budget year, and may be spending money it might not have at the end of the fiscal year in June. Russo also complained his proposal to cut $2,300,000.00 from the budget is being ignored by the administration. Russo claims his cuts attack the fat in the Mayor’s budget without layoffs.
Municipal Garage Relocation
The city council moved ahead with a contract to appraise several properties north of the 14th Street viaduct for potential use as a new Municipal Garage. The city’s public works chief called the properties “90 percent vacant” but that’s only when the Academy busses that park there are on their rounds. The city attorney said the appraisals are a first step in a process that could lead to the eminent domain of the properties for the garage, which could take years.
Meanwhile, the there were some cryptic comments about the city moving forward to find a buyer for the existing municipal garage on Observer Highway (after the Mayor’s team botched last year’s effort to sell the property.) No details were given. Watch for this to flare up in the spring, if not sooner.
Archstone Hoboken Rent Update
Councilwoman Castellano is working with the city attorney on a resolution asking the state to remove the rent control exemption that allows Archstone to hike rents by 40+ percent at 77 Park. The resolution may be on the agenda as soon as January 3rd, and would then be referred to Hoboken’s state representatives for legislative action. Removing the exemption could be a huge blow to Archstone in its battle with the tenants, and an amazing victory for those that stood up against the corporate greed.
916 Garden Automated Garage Update
The Garage is closed, and in “a million pieces” as Unitronics tears it down to build it back up again. It will take months for the garage to be fully operational. There was talk of a grand reopening ribbon cutting in April, in time for photos in the paper ahead of the May elections. For nearly two million bucks, Unitronics better give us more than just another Dave Roberts Photo Op.
Parking in Your Own Driveway Tabled AGAIN
At the last meeting the City Council went back and forth about an ordinance that would allow people to buy permits to block their own driveways. Today if you have a driveway in Hoboken, and you block it, you can be ticketed and towed. The original plan would have allowed people to buy $15 permits to do this. Some council members wanted no charge for the permits, so the ordinance was voted down last time and referred back to committee. It came out of committee with no $15 charge for the permits, but council members then argued the people with driveways should be given this free parking without even getting a permit. After several minutes of debate, it was tabled again.
The next regular scheduled meeting of the council will be Wednesday, January 3rd. There is always the possibility David Roberts will call a special meeting between now and then to take advantage of the fact that so many people will be too busy with holiday activities to attend a special city council meeting. Keep checking Hoboken411 for the latest.
Read the original preview below:
Hoboken City Council Preview – December 20th, 2006
Just in time for the holidays, the Hoboken City Council is “slimming down” its agenda for the final meeting of the year. A multi-course, pre-holiday feast of controversy was originally on the menu, but most of the really big dishes need more time in the oven before the Council can sink their teeth into them.
St. Mary Hospital
The Second Reading and Public Hearing on the bond ordinance putting Hoboken Taxpayers directly on the hook for $52,000,000.00 in borrowing is still listed on the agenda, but is likely to be carried to the next meeting. The meeting agenda says “this ordinance will be on the agenda pending action by the Local Finance Board.” That is the State of New Jersey board that is supposed to keep politicians from bankrupting their cities with bad budget decisions. The Local Finance Board doesn’t meet again until January 10th, so this may be a non-issue Wednesday night.
Fiscal 2007 Budget
On New Years Day Hoboken will have gone through Six Months of this fiscal year without an adopted budget. Again the city council will be asked to approve “additional temporary emergency appropriations” and put off the Public Hearing on the budget… again.
Municipal Garage Relocation
A resolution authorizing a $20,000.00 appraisal of several properties in the industrial northwest portion of Hoboken is also on the agenda. All of the listed addresses are owned by companies and partnerships associated with the Tedesco Family and their Academy Bus Service. Of course, just because an appraisal of property is approved by the council doesn’t mean the Mayor is actually going to get it done. We are still waiting for the appraisal of properties identified as potential parkland in Southwest Hoboken. Speaking of which…
The redevelopment plan from the Mayor’s Planners is not listed on the agenda. The Southwest Parks Coalition spent weeks organizing to get a huge crowd to the December 20th meeting. The City Council knew they were in for a very long night if that item was on the agenda.
Of course, the Mayor can (and often does) put things on the agenda at the last minute when people aren’t looking, so still be sure to attend if you had any active interest. You never know! The caucus begins at 6pm, followed by the regular meeting at 7pm, including public comments.