Tale of the tape - DCA transcripts from when Hoboken was taken over by the state

Tale of the tape: DCA transcripts from when Hoboken was taken over by the state

February 22, 2009  - Carly Baldwin - Hoboken Now

Why was Hoboken taken over by the state? For not adopting a 2008 budget by June 6, 2008. We know, we know, the state takeover of Hoboken was a while ago. But we figured everybody should be able to read the following transcripts from when several Hoboken City Council people went down to Trenton last June to speak with the Department of Community Affairs regarding Hoboken's budget mess.

Here's the transcript of the first meeting. Beth Mason, Dawn Zimmer, Peter Cunningham, Mike Russo and Theresa Castellano all met with the Local Finance Board -- they say they can't trust the numbers from City Hall; Local Finance Board chairperson Richard Turner tells them they should have passed the budget anyway.

The transcript is long (47 pages), but makes for an interesting read.

Turner, who's also the mayor of Weehawken, basically tells the Council they should have passed a budget by June or face fines, a state takeover and an increased tax levy (yes, all of that happened).

Council members, like Mike Russo, protested that the Council didn't know what the true budget numbers were and that provisions the Council put in the 2008 budget were ignored by Mayor Dave Roberts.

But Turner disagreed, saying that "unless it's a gross error," the Council should have voted on the budget proposed by Roberts.

"You can't say we're never sure of the final number so we'll never have a budget," says Turner in the transcript. "You need a budget. You can't be so afraid of the world not to have a budget ... The fear is that, gee, there may be a wrong number some place. That's not how budgets work. There may always be a wrong number."

Turner added: "It's really unconscionable the amount of time that they (the Local Finance Board) spent on the city of Hoboken when they have so many cities that are really hard pressed against the wall and have no place to go." He cited places like Camden, which is also under state supervision.

And here's the transcript from the September 10, 2008 meeting of the Local Finance Board. Mayor Roberts spoke at that one, as did members of the public, including Hoboken resident Helen Hirsch.

"It is a sad state of affairs when a city like Hoboken can't even pass a budget," said Susan Jacobucci of the Local Finance Board.

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