Hoboken: January 2009 Archives

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy For Hoboken?

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Well things are going to hell in a hand basket for Hobokenites. The HUMC (Hoboken University Medical Center) appears to be hemorrhaging money. Taxpayers are demanding union givebacks. People are clamoring for a property tax revaluation, claiming the system is uneven.

408 years ago, Shakespeare wrote "something is rotten in the state of Denmark", and I think the same could be said for our city today.

Rather than bore you with details, I will stress again, we need to analyze where Hoboken's money is coming from and where it is being spent. We need more transparency. We need to use national averages as a tool for negotiating contracts, not contracts that were written up behind closed doors by friends and family members on both sides of the negotiating table.

Taxpayers are concerned, and misinformation is rampant. I think we all need to realize that we are in a huge mess here and the old ways of doing things isn't going to work anymore. If we continue down this road, you know what will happen? Hoboken declares bankruptcy. The 'collective bargaining agreements' that the unions hide behind become moot, when old contracts can become invalid (a state judge decides this).

Vallejo, California voted (the city council did this, 7-0 by the way) to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy did this in September 2008 when police, fire and public employee contracts became a problem.

Remember, people. Its revenue versus income. If you are on the side of public employees, then we have to reassess our city property taxes for everyone. If you are on the side of taxpayers, then we have to analyze where the money is being spent - we have to ask how did our budget balloon to $121 million? Vallejo spent 74 percent of its $80 million general fund budget on public safety salaries, which was significantly higher than the state average.

I'm on both sides, even if my friends don't see it that way. I feel for those city workers who have families to feed. I feel for the taxpayers. But we can't continue down this road with the "same old" Hoboken philosophy. I don't think we are at the point where we need to declare Chapter 9. But if we keep doing nothing, then we will.

Haste

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Hoboken has a fiscal crisis. We went from a budget of around $50 million to around $120 million in a very short period of time. It's not like we didn't know this was coming.

This needs to be fixed.

What will fix it?

I'm not sure. I am not a member of city council. I'm not a fireman. I'm not a policeman. I'm not a city worker. I'm a taxpayer. I'm a homeowner that was paying his taxes last year for services and amongst the other taxpayers who are paying up to 84% more in taxes. We have to address this tax burden.

Something is wrong with that.

I don't know what the solution is, i'm not an accountant. But, I think it is in the best interest of everyone within Hoboken, from taxpayer to city worker, to analyze our current fiscal situation. Then, we need to come up with solutions that make sense for everyone. Everyone, being the taxpayers and the hard working employees of our town.

We need to review the following:

1. Are we taxing properly?
Are the city taxes (property, commericial, industrial) in line with where we should be in 2009? Or are taxpayers still getting taxed like it's 1979. We need to review this.

2. Are we utilizing our taxes properly?
We need to review where the money is going. To all departments and services. We need to use national averages and other cities as an example to get proper baselines for the use of our funds. We need to make sure there is proper use of our subsidized housing to ensure the right people are living there.

That's all. How this will affect everyone, from taxpayers to city workers, should be done in a fair, logical, but compassionate way. There are people, from taxpayers to city workers, who are rightfully concerned about this situation.

But something has gone massively wrong in our town that I have lived in for 14 years. We can't look at the budget today and think that a 100+% increase is normal. Something must be done.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Hoboken category from January 2009.

Hoboken: December 2008 is the previous archive.

Hoboken: March 2009 is the next archive.

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