Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mayor Zimmer introduces budget - with tax cut after Hurricane Sandy

Office of Mayor Dawn Zimmer announces:

Mayor Zimmer Introduces Budget With Municipal Tax Rate Cut

** Includes Funding for Redesign of Washington Street and Sinatra Drive ** 

For the third year in a row, the Zimmer Administration is introducing a budget with a reduction in municipal taxes. The 2013 calendar year budget holds the municipal tax levy approximately equal to 2012, which will result in an estimated 2% reduction in the municipal tax rate due to an increase in the ratable base. The budget includes funding for the planning process for complete street redesigns of Washington Street and Sinatra Drive. 

“Without the responsible rainy day surplus that we fought so hard to maintain, the $10 million toll from Hurricane Sandy would have been devastating to the City’s finances,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Just as we need to build a more physically resilient city, years of prudent planning have made us more financially resilient. After all our residents and businesses have been through this year, I am glad that not only will we not have to raise taxes, but that we can provide a modest tax decrease while we make investments to improve our quality of life, such as the redesign of Washington Street and Sinatra Drive.” 

The proposed municipal purposes tax levy for 2013 is approximately $51 million, a nearly $7 million reduction since Mayor Zimmer took office in 2009. This represents a reduction in the municipal tax levy of approximately 12 percent. 

The municipal tax levy makes up approximately 35% of a Hoboken property tax bill. County and School taxes make up the remainder, along with Library and Open Space taxes. 

The budget will be presented at the City Council Meeting on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. If the Council votes to introduce the budget, then a series of public budget workshops will be held, and the Council can make amendments before adopting a final budget. 

Together with the budget introduction, the Administration is presenting a series of bonds for various long term capital expenses, including parks and pedestrian safety improvements: 

• Parks bond: $1.2 million to fund various parks renovation projects city-wide including Phase II of Church Square Park plus new slide equipment for toddlers, Stevens Park 
playground renovations & Legion Park upgrades. 

• Pier A Park bond: $2.5 million for structural repairs. The South Waterfront O&M board has agreed to pay for the payments for this bond. 

• Municipal equipment bond: $260,000 includes $50,000 for a high water vehicle for emergency purposes during flooding, a bucket truck for transportation repairs and maintenance, and a salt shed. 

• Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Flow Bond: $3 million towards ensuring safe crossing intersections near schools and parks and to alleviate traffic flow in Southwest Hoboken. 

• 9/11 Memorial Bond: $500,000 for a storm-resilient design.

For the third year in a row and even in the face of the enormous costs
from Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Dawn Zimmer has once again cut taxes.

Sign of the Times: Lepercon craziness, how about bringing back the parade?

Yesterday's statistical revelation of a second year of improvement in Hoboken from the weekend debauchery elicited typical reaction from the usual quarters.  As residents on the whole heaved a sigh of relief, others mourned the loss of the parade and some bars and eateries joined them moaning the parade should be brought back.

The disconnect in reality should end with the second year of a parade-less lepercon bar crawl proving Hoboken holding a weekend parade is akin to giving crack to a crack addict.  But this is Hoboken and as one councilwoman famously said excusing excess, "Hoboken is special."

Logic in politics is rarely a leading indicator in Hoboken.  Entrenched positions are the order of the day, exploitation of the public at large is often of no concern if a deemed entitled class is a special interest friend and the common good is ignored unless (or until) defeat comes at the polls.

Last year, Mayor Dawn Zimmer took a decisive step after witnessing first hand the raging out of control behavior at the 2011 St. Patrick's Day Parade.  Ruling out a future weekend parade, she came up against the immovable force in the Parade Committee which took the action of deeming a Saturday parade non-negotiable and calling her a racist.  The mayor absorbed the attacks with grace putting public safety of Hoboken residents first.

Would any other public official make that call?  None did.

The entrenched opposition to all things Mayor Zimmer in the City Council stood silent, for a year.  Then Tim Occhipinti began making noises in recent council meetings and Terry Castellano, Michael Russo and sponsor Beth Mason joined him voicing support for bringing the parade back.

The Old Guard council members didn't actually do anything (not even a meaningless "spirit" resolution) and certainly not in advance to give the time required to meet the Parade Committee's demand to have a Saturday parade but will earn the accolades (and political contributions) of bar owners everywhere in town: a Tim Occhipinti voter "base."  (Tim always sides with the monied interests against Hoboken people, be it bar owners, developers, re: NJ Transit, etc.)

While the lepercon event was contained to mostly downtown in the areas of Washington and First Street, one can expect the parade battle will continue.  The pro-parade contingent has vowed to see Mayor Zimmer driven out of office in the November election and Tim Occhipinti has staked out that political ground for his desired run for mayor awaiting sponsorship and wheeled monies by the Mason family with a the green light from other perennial funding powers.

A rumor coming from the comments section says Assemblyman Ruben Ramos is also staking out a pro-parade position, expressing this directly to bar owners as he seeks to raise money for his mayoral run.

A City Council meeting is scheduled Wednesday night and is one avenue for the public to voice their feelings on the event last week.  Sign-up is available by 7:00 and the public can address any topic of interest by 7:30 (estimated) in City Council Chambers at City Hall.

One reader late yesterday sent her Lepercon photo via email writing:

"Here is more proof as why we do not want this parade back. Taken Saturday. The girl was butt naked in the real sense: as in not wearing any underwear."

Two figures are clearly visible on a roof Saturday afternoon during Hoboken Lepercon.

A woman sits semi-naked on a roof with clothing discarded nearby.

The reader who sent in the photo said the man was working for some time to get the semi-naked woman to put on her clothing and come back inside from the cold.