Mayor and council: Please stop politicking and do your job

Mayor and council: Please stop politicking and do your job
03/28/2005 "Letter to the Editor"

Dear Mayor Roberts and Hoboken Council members:

We are Hoboken homeowners concerned about the path of the current budget crisis. We understand why things have reached this point but are dismayed by the lack of responsibility all sides are taking to resolve this matter quickly and fairly.

Both points of view are valid. The Mayor's rationale for having proposed a sale-leaseback for the Observer Highway municipal garage and now, alternatively, seeking to simply sell the property, in order to close a nearly $8 million budget shortfall. We also understand the city council minority's rationale for voting against the sale-leaseback proposal on grounds that this approach is not the soundest way to close the gap because one should not sell such use a valuable asset unless there is a dire emergency. However, we are deeply troubled by how your own political self-interests have allowed this situation to snowball into a city shutdown.

Below we explain why the proposal from the City Council minority to increase the municipal portion of the residential property tax is unfair and unjust, we offer alternatives to the the Mayor's garage proposal (whether as a sale-leaseback or as an outright sale) for closing the permanent budget gap.

First, the City Council minority's proposal of increasing the municipal portion of the residential property tax to close the budget gap is completely unfair and terribly short-sighted.

Second, there are numerous other ways to help fill this budget gap. Consider the following alternatives:

- greater efforts to impose and collect fines - in particular, Hoboken could pass a new, stronger noise pollution measure (quiet from 11pm to 7am);

- cuts to unnecessary or duplicative programs, staff, and services;

- levy additional taxes on businesses;

- levy a City sales tax on consumption or use;

- levy a City income tax so that non-property owners pay their fair share;

- and other options that you as elected officials have an obligation to determine.

Third, criticizing steps taken so far. Your handling of the budget shortfall has been lousy and too politically calculated to give us comfort that you are doing right by homeowners, especially in light of Monday's shutdown.

The Mayor supposedly raised the budget gap issue back in July 2004 and gave his proposal of the garage sale to fill it. Some members of the City Council immediately expressed opposition, suggesting the unfair alternative of raising the municipal portion of the residential property tax, a step the Mayor does not support in light of the May 2005 election. Knowing that you each had suggestions for solving the budget shortfall problem that the other side opposed, did you ever bother to spend quality time from July 2004 (when the budget shortfall issue emerged) until now (when a City shutdown has occurred) exploring alternatives and working toward compromise?

It seems like all you did was play politics by digging your heels in deeper in favor of your side's solution while 8 months quickly passed you by. That's outrageous!

In sum, the Mayor and City Council MUST work together IMMEDIATELY to solve this budget gap crisis. We did not elect you to play games with each other. We elected you to make fair, just, diligent, rational decisions.

Please do your job.

Thank you,
Two concerned Hoboken Taxpayers

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