Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hot News on the Municipal Garage

Office of the Mayor announces:


At yesterday's City Council meeting, SHG Hoboken Urban Renewal Associates LLC (“Hekemian”), the redeveloper for the site of the existing Municipal Garage, asked that the existing contract be restructured for the sole purpose of restoring Hekemian’s profits given the decline in the real estate market. One of the changes proposed was a $1 million reduction in the agreed upon annual PILOT obligation until “market conditions improved.” Under these terms, we would be giving Hekemian a $1 million tax break every year until the market “comes back,” which could be quite some time.
The proposal also included the elimination of the obligation to provide 24 units of affordable housing. Instead of a community benefit worth, by Hekemian’s own calculation, $1.8 million - $4.8 million, Hekemian is proposing a single $1 million payment.

The effect of these changes is to reduce the value of the sale of the property to the City by millions of dollars while officially stating that the sale price is still the agreed upon $25.5 million. In fact, since we don’t know how long the reduced PILOT will last, we don’t even know what the true value of the sale would be.

Last November, I was elected on a platform of achieving balanced development by insisting that developers give our community what it needs, not by asking developers what they want from us. I also made clear that I believed that future tax abatements (PILOTs) should only be provided if the City received clear tangible benefits in exchange such as open space or affordable housing.

As a Member of the City Council, I sponsored a resolution requiring that a financial analysis be conducted for any proposed PILOT agreements identifying, for every year, whether it will result in a benefit or cost to taxpayers compared to regular taxation. In cases where it would cost taxpayers more, the same legislation requires a clear statement on the benefits the City will receive in return from the developer.

The proposed changes might be in the best interest of the developer, but the dramatic price reduction requested is not what’s best for Hoboken and our taxpayers. I strongly urge the Council, as the redevelopment agency for the City, to reject these proposed changes.

My Administration is planning for all contingencies and making the necessary preparations, including vacating the garage premises and completing the environmental mediation, to close the sale of the property in accordance with the original agreement on August 13, 2010. We must, however, recognize that the possibility exists that the transaction will not proceed as planned.

In order to be prepared for this possibility, we need to make the necessary preparations to refinance the existing debt on the garage at the most favorable rate possible. That is why I have asked the City Council to approve a bond ordinance that will enable us to do so if this should become necessary. Timing is tight, and the failure to pass this bond ordinance in a timely manner could cost Hoboken taxpayers as much as $450,000 per year in higher interest payments. A meeting to consider the bond ordinance is scheduled for Sunday, June 13th. Failure to act will leave the City unprepared to reacquire the property should that contingency arise.

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Talking Ed Note: Da Horsey just finished another comprehensive interview with Mayor Zimmer, our second this year. The first was in February. There's some additional important information covered in the Q&A. Stay close.

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Hoboken Court produces more than justice

City of Hoboken announces:


As a result of a series of appointments made by Mayor Dawn Zimmer and approved by the City Council to the Municipal Court system, the City of Hoboken will realize significant yearly cost savings.

“My first concern is always to find the most highly qualified candidates for any job opening,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Without losing any services, our City and taxpayers will save more than $146,000 per year from these appointments.”

Via reduced salaries and the elimination of benefits, each appointment and reappointment for Chief Judge, Alternate Judge and Municipal Prosecutor will save the City thousands of dollars. A previous Municipal Prosecutor appointment resulted in similar savings. Combined, the four appointments will result in savings of $146,503 per year.

The new salary for the Chief Judge position will be $55,000, compared to the previous salary of $101,703 – a savings of $46,703. Similarly, both Municipal Prosecutors will receive a salary of $32,500 without benefits, compared to the previous salaries of $61,931 and $61,446 plus benefits valued at approximately $20,000. Each position will save the City approximately $49,000. A full summary of the previous salaries, new salaries and cost savings is below.

Previous Salary
New Salary
Chief Judge
Alternate Judge
Municipal Prosecutor
$61,931 (w/ben)
Municipal Prosecutor
$61,446 (w/ben)


'bout last nite - Council degenerates but moves ahead

Our colleagues at the Hoboken Journal and will have all the details  on last night's proceedings to watch, read and review the series of events in a very long evening that went to about 1:30 in the early morning hours, but here's an open thread for those who wish to express their feelings about the proceedings.

Considering there's no election in sight, the grandstanding and politics tossed in with little respect for other City Council members not to mention the public was in plain view.  Craven political ambitions, obstruction for its own sake and hatred for the emerging voting coalition has taken our visible government to some less than respectable places.  Frankly it's a shame but that very self-examination is sorely lacking.

Tantrums for political orchestrations going awry, votes moving the city ahead fought tooth and nail at all costs to avoid any victory for the town's residents has become the order of the day at many turns on various resolutions.  Sabotage of even the most sensitive matters with ongoing negotiations are not even beyond the pale.  Residents in the third ward have been and continue to be used as pawns in a political game even with obvious efforts clearly falling outside the scope of their fears in plain sight.  NIMBY is a powerful force even when not based in reality.  Part two of that saga was in evidence and Councilman Russo deserves a special award for demagoguery.  It's harder to imagine anyone with less couth representing any part of Hoboken but it is what it is.

Hoboken's Al Sharpton king of demagoguery - Councilman Mike Russo

Yet in the end much work based on the voting outcomes was the order of the day.  All the sabotage to stop Hoboken from maturely dealing with the municipal garage issue (among others) isn't working.  The potential for the Municipal Garage to even possibly remain in its current location is obviously in play.

If you focused on the grandstanding and ugly orchestration from the Council of No, you'd have missed out on the fact this may still be possible.  The rudeness of trying to speak over other colleagues, frankly bullying them when they are speaking should be met with something more than an admonishment from the chair.  And Mikie Squared wasn't the only one guilty of it.  At one point, Councilwoman Beth Mason exacted the same behavior against Corporation Counsel Michael Kates during discussion on the long delay over updating the town's rent control ordinance.  The Corporation Counsel pointed out he's been working on the matter for two months but the subcommittee held sway over the matter for the previous eight.  This is not the first time Councilwoman Mason has insulted the Corporation Council in the most unprofessional and partisan way either.  That began months back on her orchestrations surrounding the Condon contract, what she described as the "most blatant" conflict of interest.

Councilwoman Beth Mason at the recent Gov. Christie event in Hoboken. 
Shameful conduct unbecoming.

You could say they should be ashamed of themselves but they have no shame.  The naked ambition for power and sabotage has almost completely overtaken the City Council at times with some members of the public being taken along for the ride, some willingly and some less so.

Where does it end?

Related: Claire Moses posted a story surrounding the Municipal Garage for one location of resident's concern.