Tax group asks: Where do Hoboken candidates stand on the issues?

Tax group asks: Where do Hoboken candidates stand on the issues?

February 21, 2009

The Hoboken Tax Reform Coalition ( has come up with a questionaire for potential mayor and council candidates for this May.

1. Objective: Drive a significant reduction in property taxes without compromising the safety and soundness of Hoboken.

Question: Do you agree that the annual operating budget for Hoboken should be reduced?

What do you think the appropriate budget for each of the next five years should be? Do you have a detailed plan to accomplish this? If so, what are the significant initiatives you will support to reduce the annual operating budget?What is the timeline to implement the plan?

Please explain any calculations of savings that may be included in your plan.

What concessions, if any, will be necessary in the upcoming Police and Fire contracts in order to achieve the target budgets you propose?

What revenue-enhancement opportunities do you see?

2. Objective: Set standards for smart PILOTs that improve the fiscal condition of Hoboken.

Question: What are the specific quantifiable criteria that should be used to determine if a proposed PILOT brings “value-added” to Hoboken?

How do existing PILOTs fare against your standard for evaluating new PILOTs?

Have you conducted any analysis of existing PILOTs to determine whether the terms of the agreements are being met and whether the city is obtaining the correct revenue stream based upon the current contracts? In light of such analysis, what proposals, if any, do you have for modification or elimination of existing PILOTs upon expiration or through negotiations?

Do you have a plan for transitioning PILOTs when they cannot be legally extended?

3. Objective: Remove the taxpayer guarantee to the Hoboken University Medical Center.

Question: Are you fully informed about the financial status and quality of care of the hospital? Do you think that Hoboken should continue to own the hospital or do you think it should be spun off back into a free-standing, not-for-profit institution by the end of 2009, free of the City bond guarantee or other financial support?

If not, what is your understanding of the taxpayer exposure in the event that the hospital should fail? What plan would you put in place to protect the taxpayers?

The hospital lost $11 million last year ($4 million operating loss, plus necessary accruals for long term capital repairs). The portion of the $52 million bond that was allocated for operating expenses has been fully used. How do you see filling the gap if the hospital continues to operate at a loss?

4. Objective: Force the initiation of a property revaluation, as per current law.

Question: Do your support the immediate initiation of a revaluation for Hoboken with a set date for implementation of January 2011?

If so, what specific proposals do you have in this regard?

If not, what is the justification in light of State law mandating identifying triggers for periodic revaluations?

5. Objective: Act as a fiscal watchdog/public advocate for the taxpayers of Hoboken.

Question: How will you increase fiscal transparency and accountability in Hoboken?

How will you involve the public more in the policy-making process and financial oversight?

How will you make City Council meetings more inclusive? Do you believe that the five minute public comment rule is appropriate?

6. Objective: Downsize county government to provide only essential non-duplicative services.

Question: What specific duplicative and/or unnecessary county services would you publicly campaign to close or eliminate?

What services could be regionalized rather than provided separately in every Hudson County town?

7. Objective: Explore a change in the form of Hoboken government to one which is more transparent, accountable and responsive.

Question: Have you considered whether a different form of local government, authorized under the Faulkner statute would provide more transparency, accountability, austerity and responsiveness?

If so, what form of government, if any, do you think could better achieve these goals and why?

Would you support initiating an immediate change to that form of government?

If not, why not?

8. Objective: Increase the Board of Education’s fiscal accountability and measure improvements in performance.

Question: How would you make the BoE fiscally accountable to City Hall and the public?

Question: How would you benchmark and measure student, teacher and administrative performance?

Question: Would you support and institute an investigation to determine whether any unapproved non-Hoboken resident students are enrolled in the Hoboken school system?

Question: Would you support consolidation of schools as a means of reducing administrative costs?

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