Councilman Peter Cunningham on the 2019 Hoboken budget
As many of you know, City Council passed the budget last Wednesday which cut the Mayor’s proposed tax increase of 2.8% to 1.7% ($670K cut). It is the responsibility of the Council to review and pass or amend and pass the budget. This year, members of the Council reached out to members of the Mayor’s administration (public safety in particular) to ensure a thorough and collaborative process and a fair, fiscally responsible result.
Specific problems focused on the increased number of hires in the Mayor’s office including an Office of Constituent Services and three aides in his office. Although the Council supports the Office of Constituent Services, we did not support the increase in his office staff. He awarded these individuals double-digit salary increases well above and beyond what the market calls for, especially civil servant employees. Mayor Zimmer’s office operated without this additional unnecessary overhead. Remember that the Mayor made the choice to take a second job. Perhaps he doesn’t have the time necessary to perform the functions of his first job? Thus, the need for additional personnel at your expense. These expenses are the fat cut from the budget.
It is also extremely important to note that the Mayor has severely depleted the City’s surplus which helps support our credit rating. While our rating has been affirmed – one notch below triple-A, given our surplus depletion, and wasteful spending, this is an administration that needs to be watched and kept in check very closely!
Let’s be clear, the City Council supports 99% of the Mayor’s agenda (mostly a carryover from Mayor Zimmer), with the exception of the recently passed e-scooter program. We challenged the Mayor on the budget spending issue which was the right thing to do and maintained city services while cutting back on unnecessary waste. In fact, the Mayor specifically called out the Hoboken Police Department. The HPD response in short to budget cuts was “there wasn’t an urgency” and the reduction in Other Expenses will be managed by working with the Administration.