Mayor Zimmer & Council President reply to Fiscal State Monitor Judy Tripodi’s ‘Unilateral’ action

This statement just went out to the media from the Mayor and City Council President:


Mayor Zimmer & City Council President Respond to Fiscal Monitor’s Actions
City of Hoboken, February 10, 2010 – We have learned, by reading Mile Square View, that the State Fiscal Monitor, Judy Tripodi, has unilaterally reversed an action by the City Council at its last meeting that eliminated $1.5 million dollars in emergency appropriations.  Ms. Tripodi’s rationale in reversing this cost-saving measure by the City Council was the “potential” ratification of labor contracts with one of the police unions.
Ms. Tripodi’s action is extremely unfortunate.  It is incumbent upon all of us to conduct ourselves in a transparent and fiscally responsible manner.   At a minimum, the request for the appropriation was premature.  The Finance Director had already advised the City Council that without the $1.5 million appropriation, all projected expenses were covered through the end of March 2010.  Temporary emergency appropriations should only be used to cover actual expenses for a limited period of time until a final budget is adopted.  They are not intended to pre-fund costs of an unapproved labor contract that would in any event not be payable until after the period covered by the requested resolution.  
The collective bargaining negotiations are ongoing and we have made our concerns known to Ms. Tripodi.  As far as we are aware no agreements have been executed.   Any necessary temporary emergency appropriations could be made at a later date, after or contemporaneously with the approval of any agreements by the City Council. 
Yesterday, the State Legislature unveiled a series of proposed reforms aimed at public employee pension and health benefits at the local level.  One of the reforms – which is expected to pass both houses of the Legislature this month – would require all municipal employees in Hoboken to contribute 1.5% of their base salary towards health care costs.  This reform, if signed into law in the coming weeks, will result in substantial costs saving for Hoboken taxpayers, and must be incorporated into all current and future labor contracts with the City. 
In light of the State’s ongoing failure to release its public safety audit and the State Legislature’s pension and health benefits reform measures, it is imprudent and unnecessary to fund temporary appropriations related to labor contracts that have not yet been settled.  We pledge to continue to work in tandem with the Fiscal Monitor to reach a resolution to labor contracts that is fiscally prudent, takes into consideration the findings of the State’s audit, and incorporates any reforms that are adopted by our State Legislature.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer & City Council President Cunningham

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