It's election season in Hoboken, and politicians aren't the only ones concerned about the budget or rather the lack of one. Although the fiscal state monitor, Judy Tripodi (pictured above) had a massive cleanup operation in year one, revealing all kinds of state of the art mismanagement and shoddy accounting practices, year two was thought and expected to be different. In fact, it's showing itself to be more of the same with higher spend rates and no relief for overburdened taxpayers.
At the last City Council meeting, an "emergency" funding measure for the half year of $55 million was presented for passage. Not having sufficient detail to gain five votes, the measure failed. Many of those nay votes were based on a mixture of political concerns (that election again) but also the sense of been there, done that.
Hoboken Revolt, a local grass roots, taxpayer advocacy and watchdog organization is sounding the alarm of concern on the budget and the current cost implications of the ongoing negotiations with the police and fire unions.
Kristina Hahn, a spokesperson for the group states "Based on the current monthly expenditures being brought to the city council for approval every month to keep the city operating (while we are without a budget) the city will spend $120 million plus this fiscal year. That is unacceptable to the taxpayers who have been demanding cuts since last October. We are looking for Judy Tripodi (the state appointed fiscal monitor) to allow the council and mayor to actively participate in the budget process so they can represent the demands of the taxpayers and make cuts. As we move into the second phase of being under state control, phase one being the clean up, there needs to be taxpayer representation."
It remains unclear if a budget will be available for review before the November 3rd special election. The timing is suspect, especially in looking beyond the local election to the statewide governor's race. Last spring Judy Tripodi injected politics into the race when layoffs were raised (but not completed) shortly before voters went to the polls. Will there be a repeat performance? Gov. Jon Corzine who is technically the boss of the State fiscal monitor desperately needs as many union votes as possible and along with it a large margin delivered on his behalf in Hudson County to win re-election. How does this factor in the negotiations with Hoboken's unions and who is representing the interests of Hoboken taxpayers?
In the spring, the budget consensus among the mayoral candidates was in the low ninety million range. What happened? No one, not even the Acting Mayor can say as there's no budget with its completion only coming behind the conclusion of union negotiations. As Judy Tripodi does not answer to Hoboken's residents and has declined to appear at any time on budget details before its representatives on the City Council, how do we know the best deal for taxpayers is executed until after the smoke clears and a fait accompli presented?
Wasn't there a war about this? I think it was in some history books, something about taxation without representation.
Talking Ed Note: Current negotiations with the unions are confidential and City Council members not legally permitted as a party, however the question remains who is representing the interests of Hoboken taxpayers in those negotiations and what political concerns are going to be factored with a sitting Governor seeking re-election? Looking at the track record across the state of New Jersey, it doesn't look good if you pay property taxes in Hoboken.
If any of this concerns you, Mile Square View suggests you contact Judy Tripodi's boss, Jon Corzine and ask him who is looking out for the taxpayer's interests? You can reach an aide to the Governor at his main office (609) 292-6000.
Some of you may recall, we've gone this route on another city matter last spring. Well there's no time like now, right before an election. Just do it.
Related: How Judy Tripodi found her way to Hoboken
Judy Tripodi photo courtesy: Hoboken Now/Amy Sara Clark.
Disclaimer: SmartyJones is not only America's most beloved pony but a participating member of Hoboken Revolt. Any opinions expressed here without attribution are solely and exclusively Smarty's.