Bemused by Hoboken budget

This weeks City Council meeting covered several topics, including the municipal garage, as well as the ongoing lack of a budget, and a pending resolution to trim the excess fat from it.

Here we have long time resident Helen Hirsch offering her viewpoints on the budget, and points out many other areas that are in need of examination besides what was proposed in the resolution. I’ve seen her speak many times at City Hall, and I hardly feel she ever gets a comprehensive enough answer back.

What are your thoughts?

From Helen:

“What follows is a statement I had prepared for the January 17, 2007 Hoboken Council meeting budget discussion. Unfortunately, an unannounced resolution, reopening the previously agreed upon disposition of the municipal garage, set aside because of irregularities in the developers’ bids, did more than raise my blood pressure. I had looked upon that agreement as a ray of hope in the continuously contentious and mendacious exchanges between the administration and Hoboken’s citizens. I trembled!

coffergold.jpgI did not spend much time with Councilman Russo’s suggestions for reducing the City’s red ink since I am sure he was constrained by the perceived need to avoid spooking Hoboken’s sacred cows. Also, ideas make more sense to the man in the street. I did not understand the explanation of “STRUCTURAL DEFICIT” which was offered at the last meeting. From what I have since learned, it is a con man’s way of saying: “We are bankrupt — financially and morally.” Universally, there is agreement that there are only 2 ways to eliminate structural deficit: raise taxes or spend less. Doing neither merely postpones the inevitable, meanwhile enabling the keeper of the war chest to say: “See, what a good manager I am? There will be no tax increase year!”

What is not even whispered, is that in order to continue this charade, city managers during the next hundred or so years will be deprived of all the funds channeled directly into the City coffers, without regard to needs of the school system or the County, because the civic minded developers will prepay their PILOTS now. Tomorrow there will be no dirt to sell; tomorrow there will be no way to pay off the profligate spending.”

“I did not hear Councilman Russo say anything about calling in the fleet of taxpayer financed automobiles, the need for which is even more questionable since it was officially declared that there is no need for parking spaces at the uptown multiplex theater because people can walk. How many additional taxi medallions were sold recently in an effort to dent the deficit? Why can’t the VIPs who won’t walk, patronize those dearly licensed taxis? A bonus would be freeing of about 20 privileged curb spaces for which meters could be installed. More income! Too, there would not be so many illegally parked vehicles in town which raise the blood pressure of ordinary folk who play by the rules. If some of our VIPs hit the sidewalks, they might get to see our fair city as we ordinary people do.

Was there a recommendation for the recall of a hundred or more cell phones, the records for which have been declared secret, for security reasons? Why so many and why is their apparent abuse not monitored critically?

I don’t think he detailed the outrageous redundancy of experts and consultants. The concept of hiring staff who are marginally capable of doing the jobs for which they are hired and then backing them up with layers of experts, whose advice is often ignored, can break any budget. This does not touch on the idea that job titles are created so that cooperative persons can be put on the payroll — never mind doing any job. When I mentioned some months ago that the City was advertising to replace a media consultant, to complement the 2 1/2 already on board, you reacted as though I were mad. I see no record of the fourth slot being refilled, but tax dollars are paying for public operations which seem to be engaged in spin, concealment or misinformation.

With the condo market softening, there will probably not be enough cooperating developers to bail out the City. There is not much left to sell — legally. I think the time is now to face the real world; to think and remember the pledge you took when you started this job.”

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[Way To Go Helen…Right on Target Brilliant

I’d Also Like To Know What The Unfunded Pension and Medical Liability is for Hoboken’s Employee Payroll and “The Hoboken University Medical Center”

II. Major Causes of New Jersey’s Property Tax Problem

1. Unsustainable Public Employee Benefit costs

Today, we face an $18 billion unfunded pension liability that is one of the factors that limits our ability to provide meaningful local aid.

Over the next four years, we can expect costs for the State Health Benefits Program to grow by more than 70% to over $3.6 billion. And we face an unfunded health care liability of at least $20 billion.
Enlighten New Jersey Monday, July 31, 2006

Hoboken New Jersey’s Enron by the Hudson] ]



Anyone who has been to a Hoboken City Council meeting has seen Helen Hirsh asking the hard questions to Councilpersons who rather not be held accountable for their actions.

Thanks Helen. Keep fighting the good fight.


— one last thing about developers. It seems to me like Hoboken government still thinks like it is 1978 and NO ONE wanted to build here.


My question is, why is it that the developers seem to get everything they want? I mean, we do live in a city with some of the most expensive real estate in the US. Don’t you think they should be begging us to build here? And don’t you think instead of the city spending money on street improvements, garage improvements, “pedestrian” improvements it should be FORCED on the developers to do so and pay for it?

I mean, all of the “Upper Grand” condos is destroying the roads. Why should Hoboken have to pay for it?

Does anyone know where we can get a list of all the employees in the city and there relations to other city employees or “mayors” or “council people”?

Ahh Hoboken – corrupt to the core. With all the wealth in this city you would think we would have TOO much money to spend.


Wow! Well said, Helen. The question I always have is why anyone is so proud of ending their suggestions for budget cuts with “without layoffs.” Any “business” that looks to cut expenses will look at layoffs (payroll), and ways to combine duties or responsibilities as a way of balancing the budget. Of course, with the elections approaching, who wants to be responsible for layoffs? It seems to be all about keeping jobs at city hall instead of finding ways to eliminate waste or streamline duties. I’m sure if you combed through the many positions at city hall, there would me more than a few jobs that could be eliminated. The hard part is, you might be talking about someone’s mother, cousin, sister or brother-in-law and thats where things get sticky.