City Council – 12/19/2007
For those wondering what happened last night, I’ll have the usual full Council Recap up later, but here is the abbreviated version to tide you over while that is in the works.
- The Budget Public Hearing was continued to the next meeting.
- The MOA’s with the Police Unions were approved, setting the stage for a final contract settlement
- Both bonding ordinances passed.
- The Taxi and Limo ordinances and the Insurance Buyout resolution were all pulled from the agenda before the meeting.
- The Mayoral Reappointments passed, along with the 1600 Park Items and first reading on the Open Space Trust Fund Ordinance, though Michael Russo tried to convince the sponsors to pull it and wait until the next fiscal year to pass it. Peter Cunningham and Dawn Zimmer refused, and the ordinance passed on first reading unanimously. A public hearing and final vote will be held in January before the Open Space Tax can become law.
That’s a brief rundown. Much, much more to come in the full recap.
I know what you are thinking, “Another city council meeting?” Yep, lots of them this month. This is the second regular meeting for December. It includes more budget talk, bonding for road improvements and the parking utility, as well as major changes to the taxi and limo ordinances. Contracts with the police unions are also on the agenda, along with first reading of the law creating an Open Space Trust Fund.
Budget Public Hearing
The agenda begins with the mandatory public hearing on the FY 2008 budget the council has been discussing in workshops for weeks. The public hearing may also be continued at future meetings before it is closed. Either way, the council will have to consider yet another round or “Temporary Emergency Appropriations” with the city close to entering a seventh month without an adopted spending plan.
The second reading, public hearing, and final vote on two bonding ordinances will be held. The first is for $2 million in borrowing for road improvements and other related expenses. This one has been kicked around for a year, and the work is already complete. The second is for $2.2 million to pay the bill from Unitronics to fix the 916 Garden automated parking garage. Some people believe the parking utility should pay for this out of its 5 to 6 million dollar annual surplus, but others are calling it a capital improvement eligible for borrowing so the surplus can go to plug the Mayor’s budget gap.
Taxi fares going up?
The city is also considering a massive revamp of the Taxi and Limo ordinance, including an increase in the fare to $5. The ordinance will also allow the city to reap more of the benefit from fines and licenses.
See what else is on the agenda after the jump.
Insurance Buyouts Rising
Following up on discussions during the budget workshop sessions, the city has prepared a resolution amending the section of the employee handbook entitled “Medical Insurance Buy-Out.” Any full time employee or elected official who is eligible for medical insurance coverage from the city will be able to opt out and receive a cash payment. The new schedule being considered would give people opting out of the city’s full health coverage an additional $10,000 cash payment each year on top of their salaries.
Those with Husband/Wife coverage would get $9750, Parent/Child coverage $6500, and Single coverage $3500. If the employees choose to opt out of the city’s prescription drug program, but keep the overall health coverage they would receive $2000 for family coverage, $1500 for Husband/Wife, $1000 for Parent/Child, and $850 for Singles.
Police Contract MOAs
The council will be asked to adopt a “Memorandum of Agreement” covering a contract with the Police Officers Association, and another MOA covering a new contract with the Superior Officers Association. No word on the details in these new contracts. The resolutions posted on the city’s website are vague.
Mayor David Roberts is asking the council for “advice and consent” on three appointments. The first is the reappointment of Cataldo Fazio as an additional municipal court judge. The second is the reappointment of Patleo Spaccavento to one of Hoboken’s three seats on the North Hudson Sewerage Authority. Patty runs Piccolo’s cheese steaks. Right your own sewerage joke here. The third reappointment is attorney Kevin Kramer to the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority board.
1600 Park Items
With the park plan for 1600 Park Avenue behind schedule, Mayor Roberts is trying to put a good face on the project by attempting to get some stopgap ball fields on the site. The city is submitting a grant application for remediation of the “hazardous discharge” on the site.
Speaking of Open Space…
The first reading of an ordinance to establish a “Municipal Open Space, Recreation and Conservation Trust Fund” is also on the agenda. This is the two-cent per $100 of assessed valuation the voters overwhelmingly approved on the November ballot. If the Council votes to approve this on first reading tonight, a public hearing and final vote will be held in January, and the new Open Space Tax placed on the first quarter tax bills.
The meeting begins at 7pm at City Hall. The “Public Portion” to discuss items not on the posted agenda will be moved to the beginning of the meeting.