In reversal State says local counsel may rule on temporary budget vote
Update: The Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) of NJ ruled it was permissible for local City Attorney to rule on the merit of a majority vote approving the temporary budget at last Wednesday’s meeting.
The City obtained an opinion from Florio Perrucci Steinhardt and Fader which stated a temporary budget required a simple majority vote for the resolution.
The passage of the temporary budget, a routine matter by State formula for hundreds of municipalities across NJ will be especially bitter for MORTe. Councilman Michael Russo aired lengthy and repetitive “concern” on individual line items having no bearing on the State mandate allowing up to 26.25% of the prior year’s budget applied toward the first quarter.
Councilwoman Beth Mason will be most unhappy with this development. Will her family launch yet another lawsuit? Here she is going off the rails last week after being called to account by Council President Peter Cunningham:
The stalemate in the Hoboken City Council was not long in happening to begin the year and so it got off to a thud with a failing 4-3 vote, one vote short of passing a temporary budget.
Councilman Michael Russo was the master of ceremonies expressing “concern” about the budget lines exceeding the State limit on a temporary budget. There’s only one problem. The line items he was concerned with did not impact the overall State statutory limit on a temporary budget for the first quarter.
No matter, like John Belushi in Animal House, there was no need to get caught up in the details about who bombed who at Pearl Harbor. It was grandstanding at its finest.
When the temporary budget appropriation failed in a 4-3 vote, (five votes are required for passage) Russo moved on from expressing his concern to whipping out his own temporary budget.
That quickly found its way going down in flames in another 4-3 vote where the reform council members refused to take the on the fly demands from Russo to alter the legal temporary budget.
Council President Peter Cunningham was particularly critical of the action to derail the legal budget presented saying the council minority was in essence hijacking the budget.
He wasn’t wrong.
Russo who complained he didn’t understand salary line figures and monies reserved toward a municipal employee settlement had no answer as to why he and his allies made no attempt to present their temporary budget amendment before the meeting and work with others in the Administration.
Some excuses were offered about the holiday and his busy schedule, which of course doesn’t explain why any of his allies didn’t make any effort whatsoever to contact anyone on an issue they said was concerning before the meeting.
Russo decides he wants to change numbers even though the overall budget meets the exact State guidelines. It’s all about a power move with Jim Doyle sidelined by MORTe’s legal maneuvering to block the swing vote on the council.
This is where Hoboken begins the year.
Talking Ed Note: It’s back to business as usual for the “council of no” the original three members who would obstruct City business at every turn. With Jim Doyle’s council seat vote on hold until the appellate court rules on the appeal, this is what Hoboken can expect.
Tim Occhipinti arrived very late at the end of the meeting in New Business.
The restraint fading the end of last year is all but gone now. It’s back to the power grab, an Old Guard specialty. It doesn’t have to look pretty, sound convincing it’s getting power (and the money) that matters.
If you spend tens of thousands in the hope of trying to keep a judge from making you vote on the open council appointment, it’s no fun unless you can muck things up. That’s the objective and all the legal contracts on the agenda were removed due to lack of funding.
If that should lead to more problems, where do you think Beth Mason, Michael Russo and Terry Castellano will be pointing the finger?