Hoboken cancels contracts

Hoboken cancels contracts
Saturday, April 21, 2007 Jersey Journal

HOBOKEN - The City Council voted Wednesday night to terminate all professional service contracts, ratcheting up the tension between council members and Mayor David Roberts, who called the vote a "reckless act."

The council voted 7-2 to adopt sweeping resolution to immediately cancel all the contracts, citing budget concerns. Councilwoman Terri LaBruno and Councilman Michael Cricco were the two "no" votes.

After questioning from Councilmen Ruben Ramos and Michael Russo, Business Administrator Richard England said spending on legal and engineering services had exceeded the budget, with two and a half months left until the new fiscal year.

He said he was "hopeful" that transfers could be made within the budget to avoid a crisis, but might need to request an increase before June.

Russo said he was opposed to any emergency appropriations and proposed a resolution to terminate all legal and engineering contracts. Russo said the council can approve contracts on a "case by case" basis.

LaBruno urged the council to wait to see whether any emergency appropriations would be necessary before ending all contracts.

After the meeting, Roberts said that because of the way the resolution was worded, lawyers at City Hall were thrown into confusion as to whether the council meant to terminate all professional service contracts or just legal contracts.

Roberts also said the resolution had already affected business at City Hall and a judge had to enter an order permitting an attorney contracted by the city to continue a major trial.

"The council has gone from grandstanding to being reckless," said Roberts.

Russo insisted that legal work can be done in-house.

"There is legal representation for the city of Hoboken through the office of corporation counsel," Russo said. "We are not going to let Dave Roberts spend and spend and spend."

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