Wednesday, September 22, 2010

BREAKING: City announces new HHA agreement saving 5 police positions

Office of the Mayor announces:


The Hoboken Housing Authority voted unanimously tonight to agree to a shared services agreement with the City of Hoboken to establish a Hoboken Housing Authority Bureau that will work in close coordination and partnership with resident patrols, community groups, development managers, and the HHA Executive Director to effectively reduce crime and aggressively target violations and other conditions that detract from the quality of life for residents in the Hoboken Housing Developments and the surrounding area.

“Over the last few weeks, a lot of work went into making this happen,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “I’m especially thankful to 4th Ward Councilman Michael Lenz for strongly advocating for the establishment of this Housing Authority Bureau which will improve safety for Housing Authority residents, save taxpayers money, and save five police jobs.”

One Police Sergeant and four Patrolmen will be assigned to patrol the Housing Authority area during peak activity hours between 8pm and 4am. Previously, through the volunteer OEP program, off-duty police were paid overtime to patrol the area. This agreement will replace the existing $540,000 OEP program and will not cost the taxpayers of Hoboken anything. By establishing a consistent presence of assigned personnel, the program will improve safety by allowing officers to build ties with the community.

This is exactly the kind of cooperative approach I have been advocating for, and I commend Mayor Zimmer, Director Garcia and their teams for getting it done,” said 4th Ward Councilman Michael Lenz. “It just didn't make sense to lay off some police while paying overtime to others, and this agreement addresses real human concerns while saving money and ensuring public safety.”

The agreement also calls for the creation of a Public Safety Resident Council made up of a cross-section of Housing Authority residents who will meet regularly with the Authority’s Executive Director and provide community feedback on police and security issues. In addition, the City will also install a direct telephone line in the office at 4th and Harrison Street for use by Authority residents.

“By empowering residents and giving them a role in improving the quality of life in their community, this agreement will make our City safer while cutting costs,” said Councilman Ravi Bhalla, Chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

The plan includes accountability measures, performance indicators, requires that patrol squads be no larger than 2 officers, and, among other responsibilities, calls for walking patrols, vertical building sweeps, and monitoring of the Housing Authority’s surveillance cameras.

“This was truly a team effort,” added Mayor Zimmer. “I want to thank Public Safety Director Alicea for developing the plan, Police Chief Falco for his active support of this initiative, and Corporation Counsel Tabakin and Housing Authority Director Carmelo Garcia for working closely to iron out the details.”

The agreement is subject to approval by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the City Council. Mayor Zimmer has agreed to delay the layoff of five patrolmen pending the approval of this agreement by the City Council on October 6, 2010 and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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Talking Ed Note: Mayor Zimmer sent out a twitter Wednesday evening saying, "Thank you HHA for helping save 5 Police jobs and taxpayer money with the approval of the city's proposed interlocal agreement.

Hoboken Budget Workshop Live @ 6:00

Part 1:

Part 2:

The Hoboken Budget Workshop for the 2010 transitional budget should be available for viewing at 6:00. Uncensored chat is also ready to go.

This is the second meeting and should have some good detail for those who wish to better understand the turnaround in rebuilding Hoboken's fiscal integrity.

Correction: Please note the correct time for the workshop to begin is 6:00 not 7:00 tonight.

Western Edge Respac

Hoboken is chock full of nuts loaded. Here's the Western Edge Respac.
It will be presented to the City Council next week for introduction before then going on to the Planning Board.

Revisions that come back from the Planning Board go back to the City Council for review and approval.  There's a lot of work ahead for this.

Another mysterious telephone poll is circulating and has confused people that it's a done deal.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  One member of the public who showed up at the City Council Budget Workshop was allowed to speak on the Western Edge and stated they had the wrong information.  It's possible he got it from the same bad telephone push poll that was circulating in Hoboken today.

Who do you think was behind that telephone push poll?


Here it comes - NJ Transit's big unveiling

From the desk of the Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force           

Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force Encourages Community To Attend Mayor’s Forum on NJ Transit’s Proposed Property Development Plan

Hoboken, NJ – Sept. 22, 2010 – On Monday, Sept. 27, from 7-9 pm, Mayor Zimmer will host a meeting in the historic Hoboken train station waiting room for the community and City Council members to see NJ Transit’s latest development proposal for a small portion of its 52-acre property on Hoboken’s southern border.
The Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force, a group of concerned community members who are working together to help ensure an open and community-based approach to developing this important piece of land, encourages everyone to turn out at this event. “It’s important for residents to show New Jersey Transit that we care what happens at this historic site and gateway to our city,” says task force member Diana Davis.
The rail yards along the southern edge of Hoboken have served as a highly efficient transportation zone for more than a century. The terminal itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. New Jersey Transit and FX FOWLE, a planning company hired by the previous city administration, presented a plan in September 2008 that was roundly criticized by many citizens. “The plan was a wake-up call for many local voters, who viewed overdevelopment as one of the issues of the 2009 political debate,” says task force member Terry Pranses. While the Mayor’s administration has undertaken initial steps for community-based planning for this by soliciting proposals from leading urban planning firms, NJT appears to have developed a plan, at least for a small portion of the site.
“The Rail Yards represent 8 percent of the city’s territory and serve as a key entrance point to the city from the east, south and west,” says Pranses. “They will set a tone for Hoboken’s quality of life. The Rail Yards could be Hoboken’s next great neighborhood, or an alien zone that changes the city forever.”
We strongly urge citizens to attend this important meeting and to view, along with Mayor Zimmer, New Jersey Transit’s proposed plan for a portion of the Rail Yards.
About the Hoboken Rail Yards Task Force
The Task Force was formed in the wake of the third public meeting held by the City to present the NJ Transit Rail Yards redevelopment plan, when it was made clear that the designated planners, FXFOWLE, had incorporated none of the feedback expressed by members of the community at the previous two meetings. The group advocates development of the rail yards in a scale and manner that complements the larger community it will be joining.  New development at this crucial site will impact Hoboken for many generations. For more information, contact Diana Davis at 201-927-8395.

HUMC Board Meeting - new time - 6:00

Agenda download for tonight's board meeting @ 6:00!

Agenda embed

Office location:
312 Clinton Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030

Telephone: 201-418-2038


Star-Ledger Study: NJ (and Hoboken) Police earn most in nation: $90K plus

The Star-Ledger published a detailed analysis on NJ Police pay and how it compares across the nation.  Their conclusion:  NJ Police are the best paid in the nation, especially in the northern part of the state and it has nothing to do with the local challenges of crime and everything to do with the individual township.

Hoboken fell full square right in the median, the number of officers who are paid above and the number paid below coming in over $90,000 per year.  But other nearby towns pay more, most clustered in Bergen County.

Violent crime is also measured in the statistics across the state and weighted for pay.  Here too the data shows higher crime rates have nothing to do with compensation for police officers.  Areas with serious crime such as Newark, Camden or Irvington are paid lower on average than other areas of the state with far less crime.

Hoboken is charted with data taken from 2009.  Compensation comes in a bit higher as measured in Hudson County $90,082 vs. $90,208.  Thirty percent of the force is making $100,000 or better.

Not Just Salaries

The article details the cost for police are higher than what the public typically imagines, breaking down the pension costs contributions from towns:

Police pay more into the pension fund than civilian public employees do: 8.5 percent of their salary, rather than 5.5 percent. But they also cost municipalities more. For every dollar a town pays a police officer, it owes 31 cents to the pension fund, Neely said. By comparison, towns pay 11 cents for each dollar paid to civilian workers.

Big Bang Costs to towns
There’s much more to police compensation than just salaries. L. Mason Neely, East Brunswick’s longtime chief financial officer, said a police officer making $100,000 a year may cost a town twice that when benefits, pension payments and other expenses are considered.
Overtime is one of those major expenses. Police are paid extra to work outside of regular hours, such as attending court hearings or pursuing long investigations. There’s also overtime when working holidays or covering shifts for sick colleagues.
Hoboken's police unions are facing their first ever challenge at reorganization.  They have not publicly stated their position on raises as arbitration looks the likely route, but other Hoboken residents have urged they construct a solution to save the jobs of younger members.  From the article, the state PBA spokesman says it should work toward saving jobs:

Jim Ryan, spokesman for the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, said the union has encouraged its local chapters to go without to save fellow officers’ jobs.
"If they’re going to lay off officers, and you’re going to make concessions to keep these officers, make concessions," he said.

Hoboken is scheduled to make layoffs by Friday.  Half of the 36 layoffs will come from the Hoboken police's bottom ranks of service due to PBA bumping rules if no agreement is reached with sufficient retirements to offset the announced layoffs.

The City has earlier stated retirements would be taken into consideration and be a tool to offset any need for layoffs.  The Hoboken police unions have stated the city surplus of $12 million makes any layoffs unnecessary.  (video below)
If you are interested in the full article, it can be found here:

Star Ledger editorial:

Update on 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove

City of Hoboken announces:

The City of Hoboken is making progress on two park and open space projects in Northern Hoboken, 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove, and will soon hold public meetings to solicit community feedback on the design of the parks.

“The residents of Hoboken deserve more parks and recreation space,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Starting more than a decade ago, concerned residents fought to preserve this area for open space, and thanks to their efforts, we will soon have these two new parks which will add an additional 4 acres of open space for our community.”

Because the projects had been stalled for years, the City risked losing grant funding due to inaction.

“I’m proud that my Administration moved quickly to preserve more than $1 million in site remediation funding that would have been lost if we had not acted by the end of 2009,” added Mayor Zimmer.

1600 Park is located north of 16th Street between Willow Avenue and Park Avenue, while Hoboken Cove is east of Park Avenue and north of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway just north of the Hudson Tea building. A related HudsonCounty project, Weehawken Cove, is an 800 foot stretch of Hudson River Waterfront Walkway adjacent to the Hoboken Cove area that will connect Weehawken to Hoboken and include a kayak and boat launch. The groundbreaking for Weehawken Cove took place on Monday, September 20th.

Environmental cleanup of 1600 Park is nearly complete and has been contracted out for Hoboken Cove. Concurrent with the environmental remediation of Hoboken Cove, the City will develop designs for both parks. A Request for Proposals which is due by October 13 has been issued for a firm to design both properties “as a comprehensive, cohesive park.”

Once a design firm has been selected, multiple public meetings will be held in the fall to solicit community input on the designs for both parks.

“I look forward to working with the community to develop plans for this much-needed park space,” said Mayor Zimmer.

The planning process is scheduled to last through the fall and winter, and bidding for a construction firm is planned for early spring.

To complete the design and development phase, the City has a $1 million Green Acres grant for 1600 Park, and Toll Brothers is required to contribute $1 million per a developer’s agreement. An additional $1 million Green Acres grant will go to fund Hoboken Cove, along with a $700,000 Green Acres loan which may be forgivable and approximately $200,000 from a Hudson County open space grant.

Residents interested in receiving updates about the 1600 Park and Hoboken Cove projects can email Communications Manager Juan Melli at

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