Response to Mayor Bhalla’s 2019 budget and anti-business parking proposal – try again.
On Monday, Mayor Bhalla delivered his 2019 Municipal Budget to the Hoboken City Council. The budget included a 2.5% increase in appropriations and relied heavily on future parking revenue increases from his recently proposed Dynamic Pricing parking meter plan. But then, just a day later on Tuesday, Mayor Bhalla publicly announced his support for undoing the same parking meter increases that helped fund his 2019 budget. Creating uncertainties about underfunding and lack of confidence in the draft budget, this led the Hoboken City Council to choose not to introduce the budget at its council meeting last night, but rather asking the administration to take another stab at their proposed budget.
“Given the radical changes they proposed that would impact parking revenue, the Administration clearly needs more time to reconcile their policy views with their budget and we want to help give them that time. We want to see the Mayor sharpen his pencil in terms of cost-cutting and provide more transparency about how he plans to replenish the city’s rainy day fund (surplus) that has been depleted by almost $5 million.” Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, Chair of the Revenue, Finance and Infrastructure subcommittee.
The Mayor’s reversal on the dynamic pricing came in response to significant pushback from residents. However, his and Councilman Russo’s response was a proposed ordinance repealing the rate increases that also came with a concerning anti-business provision: allowing Hoboken residents to take up critical parking spaces in Hoboken’s central business district for free, for four hours. When Councilman Russo refused to remove this anti-business provision when asked by his council colleagues, Councilwoman Fisher introduced, and the City Council approved, a parallel ordinance which also repealed the prior parking rate increases leaving unchanged the free parking for residents citywide except at meters in certain business areas.
“We need to find the right balance that promotes our businesses that we all want to see succeed, that contributes to the growing financial and parking related needs of our city and does not penalize our own residents. No matter what, parking meter rates on Washington St. need to go up from $1/hr. This level disincentives turnover which is critical for our local businesses to survive. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on a new plan, and with the Mayor and his Administration on finalizing a 2019 budget we can all support.”