Hoboken Budget introduced, cash surplus $5 million, police contract approved

Hoboken Patch filed a brief story noting the introduction of this fiscal year’s budget with a $5 million cash surplus dedicated to reserves as recommended on the low end of a 5-10% professional recommendation by municipal financial planners.

The Police unions and saw their contract including a $3 million payment for back pay approved. The amount represents one of the larger costs to the $14.7 million surplus among others expenses highlighted.

Last year’s transitional budget in the latter half of 2010 included a 5% tax cut and the mayor has proposed an additional 5% tax cut for this fiscal year’s budget.  Budget workshops are scheduled for later this month.  Last year, the previous council majority worked to deliver savings of over $300,000 in two weekend workshops.

Another $4 million has been saved in salaries mostly due to retirements and layoffs.

This City Council will have a steep hill to climb to match any of those efforts.  The new council majority under Beth Mason and Mike Russo have crowed about saving money but not named any substantial reductions anywhere.  Instead, they have expended a lot of air complaining about the mayor’s staff and the directors.

Most recently, Mike Russo’s retort to cost savings was to note City Hall is more top heavy.  But the actual numbers prove otherwise and the mayor’s office reduced it’s own budget cost more than 20% earlier.

When Russo’s former campaign manager Peter Cammarano became mayor, he created a new position: Chief of Staff at $125,000.  The mayor’s replacement cost a fraction of that and has been targeted along with the communications manager as an issue by political opponents.

The communications manager position replaces two former public information officers.  Both of those roles were eliminated previously although one is contesting the matter as part of a civil service action.

Talking Ed Note:  The updated pay-to-play ordinance passed last night but not before the public got to weigh in on the matter finally before the midnight hour.  The first speaker from the 4th ward discussed the disappointment in the anti-wheeling measure not being included, explaining his concerns and before the words wheeling barely escaped from his lips, he was interrupted by the chair, Beth Mason.

She tried to silence any use of the word “wheeling.”  Other council members interjected saying she was again attempting to regulate speech, but this time not of council members but the public.  Beth Mason attempted to make a case discussing wheeling on the pay-to-play ordinance was out of order.  The speaker noted it was easily part of the issue and others ventured afar on rent control concerns as he continued.

Beth Mason: don’t say that word.  Last night she attempted to silence the public from mentioning wheeling
during the public’s time discussing the pay-to-play ordinance.  The issue isn’t going away.

Later long time Hoboken resident Scott Siegel was incensed by that attempt to limit the pay-to-play discussion from any mention of wheeling, calling Beth Mason a dictator adding he would not allow her to censor his comments on the pay-to-play ordinance when she attempted to censor him as well.

MSV will be offering video on this.  People need to see for themselves.

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