Friday, April 5, 2019

Councilman Mike DeFusco: "Parking, Parks & Pub Crawls"

Official release:
Spring is in the air, and it’s a busy time here in Hoboken so I wanted to update you on several important issues being discussed by the City Council.

Last year, I was proud to vote against the mayor’s citywide parking meter hike, raising prices up to 260% as a way of plugging budget shortfalls.  I said at the time that raising these fees without first modernizing our existing transportation infrastructure, creating more garage spaces, or utilizing technology (like demand based pricing and real-time availability) is a back-door tax which hurts our residents and businesses.  Despite my concerns, the rate increase narrowly passed the City Council 5-4.
When the pricing took effect last month, the community rallied against this ill-conceived plan and we brought about positive change, together.   Thanks to massive opposition from thousands of Hoboken residents and business owners who spoke out against the rate hikes, the mayor acknowledged he made a mistake and called to scale back. Hoboken should be encouraging people to visit, shop and dine in our city and enjoy all it has to offer as opposed to creating even more obstacles for businesses to succeed.  I look forward to working with the mayor to develop and implement holistic solutions to modernizing Hoboken's parking and transportation infrastructure.  To read more on the repeal,  click here. 
On the same day Mayor Bhalla called to repeal the meter increases, he introduced his 2019 budget which not only proposes a sizable tax increase but also that we use the above meter revenue to cover rampant overspending. This budget proposes to raise taxes by nearly $2 million while allocating an additional $1.2 million in anticipated meter revenue to plug other holes in the budget.  Simply put, the mayor is relying on money that didn’t yet exist through questionable parking policy to pay for expenses already made — a buy first, worry later mindset.  Without the anticipated revenues from the meters, our budget is now nearly $3 million deficient and Hoboken taxpayers are being threatened with a significant tax increase.  
Residents should not be forced to pay for this mayor’s spending spree and do not deserve a budget that relies on backdoor taxes and gimmicks to compensate for overspending.
I am calling on Mayor Bhalla to work with the City Council to develop a fair budget with responsible spending cuts, starting with the bloated staff salaries coming from his office, luxury vehicles and contracts to politically connected law firms. These expenses are threatening Hoboken’s middle-class families and it is time for the Mayor to work with the City Council to ensure that we hold the line on taxes and maintain our AA+ credit rating.