Monday, June 10, 2019

City Council President Jen Giattino: "The truth about the Budget"

Official release:


 

Hello Friends and Neighbors,
 
I had planned on sending out an email this morning celebrating the reductions the City Council made to the introduced budget but instead I am being forced to discuss how the Mayor is happy to raise your taxes, keep his friends in positions we don't need, and use taxpayer funded staff and Nixle communications to send out politically driven emails that define "petty politics." Because the Mayor comfortably uses Nixle for political propaganda please forward this email to your friends and neighbors to help get the truth out.

The majority of the City Council put much thought and time into a fiscally responsible budget that affords Hoboken with a smaller tax increase (1.7%) than the Administration’s introduced budget (2.8%).  Councilwoman Fisher and I went to Trenton and met with the Department of Community Affairs and went through all of the changes to ensure they were statutorily compliant.  On June 5, 2019 the Department of Community Affairs emailed "Please be advised that the budget amendments dated May 1, 2019 and June 5, 2019 are approved. You may proceed to the final adoption this evening."  The City Council adopted this approved budget that evening.

The details behind the amendments are below and please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Related, the emails sent out by the Mayor last week regarding the budget that you may have received have many fabricated and misleading statements in them that I would like to clarify for you:
  • The Department of Community Affairs did not reject the City Council budget amendment.  They approved both budget amendments submitted by the Council on May 1 and June 5 as noted above.
  • The City Council cannot fire employees (except for certain Directors and it requires six votes).  It can only appropriate money to line items in the municipal budget.  It is the Mayor who determines how to spend the funds allocated by the Council including who to hire and how much to pay (as long as it falls within the Salary Ordinance).  
  • The City Council supports the Office of Constituent Services and made no changes to the budget introduced by the Mayor. If the Mayor decides to remove this office that is solely his choice.
  • The adopted special counsel budget line is $1,020,000, this covers the legal costs of the City.  Year to date we have spent less than 30% of that line. There is sufficient money to pay for Monarch, Union Dry Dock, a tenant advocate and all of the other issues the city faces.  Historically the special counsel line item has been over budgeted to generate surplusOur Mayor has shown that he needs to have his purse strings kept tight and that is what the majority of the City Council decided to do. 
  • The Mayor increased the Salary and Wages in the Mayor’s Office by 80% since Mayor Zimmer left office in 2017, while reducing the responsibilities of his office by creating a seperate Constituent Service Office.  He made a campaign promise not to take a second job, but then took one a month into his first term and has required taxpayers to pay for staff ever since.  The City Council has amended this line item to be closer to the cost of Mayor Zimmer’s office in 2017.  The Mayor also has the ability to reduce the salaries of his staff, instead of reducing headcount, staff which he uses as part of his political operation with YOUR tax dollars. His staff are the only department to see raises between 10%-28% while the majority of our City employees are lucky to get a cost of living increase.
The Mayor is clearly frustrated that the City Council is doing their job in looking out for Hoboken taxpayers.  He made the decision to hold a second job and the residents of Hoboken should not be picking up the bill of his bloated staff and taxpayer money should not be used to run his political machine.  The mayor continuously fundraises, but by using taxpayer money in this way it allows him to use more of the political contributions he receives from across the country for his own political purposes including funding other campaigns. 
 
My job has always been and always will be, to look after the residents of Hoboken. That is the number one job of a reformer and I will not change that.

Again please feel free to reach out with any questions,
-Jen
 


 
CY2019 Amended Municipal Budget
 
The rationale behind the first amendment (May 1) and the second amendment (June 5) to the CY2019 introduced budget.   
 

Department: Environmental Services Other Expenses
May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $220,000
Reason: Amount carting contract came in under budget net of increased recycling costs.

Department: Corporation Counsel Other Expenses

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $125,000
Reason: Reduction in special counsel costs; still $990K total and 9% more than historic average spend.

June 5 Amendment
Addition: $30,000, net change of $95,000 to $1,020,000.
Reason: Adds back $30,000, to ensure tenant advocate.  Amended amount is 9.9% higher than the 5 yr. historic average and the City’s year-to-date spend is only at 29.5% of this amended number. The 5 year average for Special Counsel Costs was $927,969 (source audited financial statements).

Department: Mayor’s Office Salary & Wages

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $115,000
Reason: Restore costs of mayor's office to 2017 levels - up 115% in 2 yrs. and included salary increases of 10-28%.

June 5 Amendment
Addition: $29,995, net change $85,005 to $329,945.
Reason: Salary differential between 5/1/19 and 6/5/19.

Department: Police Acquisition of New Vehicles

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $75,000
Reason: Delay purchase of new motorcycles.

Department: Environmental Services Other Expenses / Streets & Roads Other Expenses

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $75,000 in Environmental Services.
Reason: Use of "snow & ice removal trust" (currently at $196K) to offset current year budget of $90K.

June 5 Amendment
Department: Environmental Services
Addition: $75,000, net change to $0.
Reason: Incorrect budget line item; should be Streets & Roads
Department: Streets and Roads
Reduction: $17,400
Reason:  Use of snow trust; amount limited to 10% of total line item.

Department: Business Administration Salary and Wages

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $50,000
Reason: No re-hire of assistant business administrator.


 
Department: City Clerks Other Expenses Elections
May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $40,000
Reason: Reduce amounts proposed for run-off elections.

June 5 Amendment
Reduction: $7,500, net change $47,500 to $125,500.
Reason:  After reviewing the history of this expense in more detail and being conservative we wanted this line funded for 6 runoffs in the 2019 elections.  This revised amount of is 226% of the amount spent in 2015 which is the last year there were ward elections (2015 also included a primary election).

Department: Municipal Court Other Expenses

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $35,000
Reason: Reduce excess budgeted amounts relative to historical averages in Municipal Court (2.5% of total).

Department: Police Other Expenses

May 1 Amendment

Reduction: $30,000
Reason: Reduce excess budgeted amounts relative to historical averages.

Department: City Engineer
May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $25,000
Reason: Expected allocation under new Water Utility.

June 5 Amendment
Addition: $25,000, net change $0.
Reason: Not reducing for the proposed water utility that has yet to be established.

Department: Tax Assessor

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $15,000
Reason: Reduce excess budgeted amounts in Tax Assessor OE (still 20K over 2018 act).

June 5 Amendment
Addition: $7,500, net change $7,500 to $211,725.
Reason: Ensured budget compares favorably with 5yr average costs.

Department: Corporation Counsel Salary and Wages

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $14,000
Reason: Reduce proposed salary increases of 6-20% to 3%.

June 5 Amendment
Addition: $4,900, net change $9,100 to $377,567
Reason: To give the Mayor more flexibility to give raises.

Department: Zoning Salary and Wages

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $9,000
Reason: Reduce proposed 4-10% salary increases to 3%.

June 5 Amendment
Addition: $3,150, net change $5,850 to $200,453.
Reason: Gives the Mayor more flexibility to give increased stipends.

Department: Planning Salary and Wages

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $5,000
Reason: Reduce stipends in planning to 50% of proposed.

Department: Revenue & Finance Salary and Wages

May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $5,000
Reason: Reduce excess budgeted amounts in Revenue & Finance.

June 5 Amendment
Addition: $1,750, net change $3,250 to $714,040.
Reason: Gives more to pay overtime.

 
Department: Senior Citizens Other Expenses
May 1 Amendment
Addition: $2,000
Reason: Restore Seniors Budget to 2017 for additional programming and classes.

Department: Capital Fund

May 1 Amendment
Addition: $6,000
Reason: Down payment for new Senior ADA compliant van at est. cost of $60,000.

Department: Fire Salary and Wages
 
 
May 1 Amendment
Addition: $90,000
Reason: Increase for new Fire Chief salary and firefighter/OT - TBD by Fire Chief.

Department: City Clerks Salary and Wages
June 5 Amendment
Addition: $15,000
Reason: We want to ensure the Mayor has the funding to give raises for step and responsibility increases.

Department: Public Defender
June 5 Amendment
Addition: $4,300
Reason:  Due to bail reform Public Defender needs to be available an additional day. This happened between the 2 amendments.

 
 
Hoboken Parking Utility CY2019 Budget

Department: HPU Other Expenses
May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $63,000
Reason: 2019 OE budget of $3.4M is fairly flat to 2018 and 2018 underspent budget by $664K; Proposed reduction reflects only a 1.9% decrease in total which should be able to absorbed within estimates across many items.


Department: HPU Salary and Wages
May 1 Amendment
Reduction: $40,000
Reason: HPU has operated at ~85% staffing levels; this is a small reduction of only 0.85% of total S&W which can be absorbed in a $4.7M budget.


Department: HPU Investment in Property
May 1 Amendment
Addition: $7,000
Reason: Down payment for new HOP at est. cost of $70,000.


Department: HPU Surplus Contribution to Municipal Budget
May 1 Amendment
Addition: $96,000, equal to net reductions above.
Reason: Increase use of HPU surplus from $3.2M to $3.296M (historically above $4M) funded by net reductions above.