Municipal Budget

Ex-Hoboken finance aide pleads guilty to stealing 10G from nonprofit bank account

Kathryn Kinney

Kathryn Kinney, who was employed by Bayonne accounting firm Donohue, Gironda & Doria and assigned "full-time" to the Hoboken Finance Department as a financial specialist, pleaded guilty in Monmouth County Superior Court for stealing more than $10,000 from a nonprofit organization.

Before working for Hoboken, Kinney, 42, was working as the executive director of the Poricy Park Conservancy in Middletown.

Theft allegation hits ex-Hoboken finance aide

A woman who worked as a financial specialist for a firm the city used was arrested this week for allegedly stealing more than $10,000 from a nonprofit she worked for in Monmouth County.

Before she worked in Hoboken, Kathryn Kinney, 42, was working as the executive director of the Poricy Park Conservancy in Middletown.

She is charged with stealing $10,219 from the nonprofit organization, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. Kinney allegedly took the money to stall foreclosure proceedings on her home in Bridgewater.

Kinney, 42, is charged with third-degree theft and third-degree misapplication of entrusted property.

Hoboken's budget blunders released, pols exposed

U .S. Rep. Albio Sires of West New York attended the Hoboken St. Patrick's Day dinner on Feb. 22, and he brought his own leprechaun who had no pot of gold for the Mile Square City.

Yet, as transcripts of the June 6, 2008, state Local Finance Board meeting reveal, the panel's chairman and sprite, Richard Turner, who also doubles as mayor of Weehawken, had offered the Mile Square City council members something better than a pot of gold. He gave them priceless advice - approve the municipal budget already. Unfortunately for Hoboken taxpayers, it was ignored.

City Council members Beth Mason, Dawn Zimmer, Peter Cunningham, Michael Russo and Theresa Castellano were all present, according to the transcripts released by The Jersey Journal's HobokenNow blog. After reading the transcripts, you come away wondering "what were they thinking?"

Where are investigations heading? Fiscal monitor may stay another year, gives updates on money mistakes

Six months ago, state fiscal monitor Judy Tripodi came to Hoboken to oversee the city’s finances, in the wake of the City Council’s last-minute budget passage. Since then, she has uncovered some problems and errors in City Hall’s financial initiatives that the taxpayers may have to pay for.

As the May mayor/council election approaches and city officials jockey for attention, several city officials said last week that Tripodi may be asked by the state to extend her stay in Hoboken from August 2009 to August of 2010.

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

Councilwoman Beth Mason filmed meeting, but refuses to release the video

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.

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

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?

Roseville plans to write more of own tickets and keep all the money

Tickets for running a stop sign or ignoring a "No U-Turn" sign soon may be less expensive for drivers in Roseville but much more profitable for the city.

It's all part of Roseville's plan to encourage police to write tickets for certain types of moving violations under the city's municipal code, rather than the state vehicle code.

The plan would put conservative Roseville shoulder-to-shoulder with Berkeley and a few other cities. But the plan doesn't sit well with the insurance industry.

The difference for offenders? A lower fine – $100 instead of $146 for first offenses – and a driver's record without added "points" that can lead to higher insurance premiums or even a revoked license.

City says It was a mistake

An extensive investigation into several current and former city employees who were incorrectly receiving city health benefits has turned up some interesting names and little explanation from the administration.

State-appointed fiscal monitor Judy Tripodi confirmed the names of five individuals – including two former members of the City Council – who were sent letters by the city in October and November stating they would be removed from municipal benefits because they are no longer qualified. The city gave the individuals 30 days to object, and none did.

Both Tripodi and Mayor David Roberts blamed the situation on “oversight,” and Roberts said this sort of thing happens in every city. “One division didn’t know what the other division was doing,” he said. “I don’t want to minimize this. This and every issue will be taken seriously and handled accordingly.”

Step 1 to fix Hoboken's budget, layoffs

In a move to streamline Hoboken's budget, the city announced yesterday that seven provisional municipal employees have been laid off.

The layoffs mark the first stage of a workforce reduction in the city under the control of state monitor Judy Tripodi. The city is expected to reduce its workforce by 65 employees, or 10 percent of all full-time municipal workers, throughout this year.

Shakeup at City Hall

The city’s financial firm of the past three years is out, as is controversial Tax Collector Louis Picardo.

Due partly to the mile-square city’s precarious financial situation and to scheduled retirements, several top Hoboken officials and consultants retired or were replaced in the past few weeks.

The city’s state-appointed fiscal monitor, Judy Tripodi, has hired a new full-time financial director, Nick Trasente, at $125,000 per year. She hopes he can help lead the mile-square city out of its financial difficulties, which led to a 47 percent overall tax hike this year.

The financial firm of Donohue, Gironda, and Doria was under contract to handle city finances for the past three years, but their contract recently expired and was not renewed by the city.

Finance director for Hoboken

HOBOKEN - In the continuing effort to pull the city out of its financial quagmire, state monitor Judy Tripodi yesterday announced she is bringing in a new financial planner.

Nicola Trasente is a former administrator and CFO of Highland Park and a municipal auditor for New Jersey's Division of Local Government Services' Distressed Cities Team.

Hoboken's tax jump: 47 percent

HOBOKEN - Already hard hit by the tanking economy, there's no letup in sight for taxpayers in the Mile Square City.

To correct the problem of a budget that hasn't been fully funded, property owners can expect to be whacked with a 47 percent municipal tax hike - $646 more for a home assessed at $250,000 - for at least the next two quarters, officials say.

City officials said they expect to send out the next tax bill within a few weeks and taxes are due 25 days later.

Hoboken has 3 choices for a state monitor -- Really???

Former Local Finance Board official Judy Tripodi appears to be the DCA's choice for Hoboken"s monitor.

The state was supposed to give Hoboken three candidates to choose from for the "monitor" who will be overseeing the city's finances as part of the city's punishment of state "supervision" imposed after Hoboken failed to pass a budget.

And the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs did give Hoboken three choices, one who would charge $130,000 a year and two that would charge $500,000 a year. Hmm, I wonder who the DCA is backing?

Officials failed to do their duty

Last week, the state Local Finance Board put Hoboken under "supervision," a polite term that sounds better than a limited takeover. This comes two months after the city failed to approve a balanced municipal budget.

While the mayor and the City Council will be able to propose and vote on municipal business, Susan Jacobucci, director of the state Division of Local Government services, will have final approval on all fiscal matters (expenditures above $4,500), union contracts and the hiring and firing of employees.

State takes over Hoboken's finances

The state Local Finance Board voted unanimously today to take control of the fiscal affairs of the deficit-ridden Hoboken government where the mayor and council have been entangled in political bickering for the past year and have failed to act on a new budget.

The government will be under the strict supervision of the state Division of Local Government Services for one year and while Mayor David Roberts and the city council will continue to have the power to vote on municipal issues, Susan Jacobucci, the division director, said she will have final approval on all decisions involving fiscal matters, union contracts and the hiring and firing of employees.

"In my opinion, there is no reason why Hoboken should be here today,'' Jacobucci told Roberts and three council members. "Hoboken is and should be a vibrant city. This is because of the inaction of local officials. To come to this point today it is a sad state of affairs for a city like Hoboken not to pass a budget.''

Layoffs loom, parking meter increase could return

DECISIONS, DECISIONS – Mayor David Roberts is trying to avoid massive layoffs by creating as many new revenue ideas as possible. Last week he criticized the City Council for tabling many of the proposals.  
Mayor David Roberts is taking the necessary steps to ready the city for layoffs, demotions, or other reductions in force, he said last week.

The City Council may have to make serious decisions at their meeting this Wednesday.

The city has an $11.7 million deficit to make up, due to a financial hole that widened in last year's budget.

Before any city workers lose their jobs, Roberts says he will ask the City Council to consider the few revenue-increasing options he has proposed.

Some city-proposed revenue ideas were put on hold by the City Council at their last meeting to further examine their feasibility or necessity.

Among them are controversial matters designed to increase revenue, including forcing local businesses to pay recycling fees - a measure the city attorney has said is very hard to legally implement.

Since it is uncertain whether the city will save money in other ways, the layoff plan is already in motion, according to Roberts.

Roberts met with the city's unions last week to discuss other ways to save money, as well as the effects of layoffs.

He said layoff notices will likely be sent to municipal employees in October.

City Attorney Joseph Pojanowski, who was sitting in last week for Steve Kleinman while he was on vacation, said that once notices are sent out, the city has 45 days to act, by law.

A dose of reality on Hoboken woes

Last week, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts came up with his proposals for a spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, one that faces a $10.5 million deficit.

Of course, any fiscal blueprint for Hoboken will have to be approved by the state Department of Community Affairs, which is actually running the show in the Mile Square City. The state has assumed control of the city's finances after the municipal government failed to approve the last budget. This newspaper believes the failure was a combination of inept administration and City Council political grandstanding, a fatal combination for local taxpayers.

Mayor Roberts' 2009 spending plan

Selling the automated garage, laying off municipal workers, more parking meters -- Hoboken Mayor Dave Roberts introduced his plan to patch up Hoboken's broken budget today.

Roberts said he will introduce his Spending Plan for Fiscal Year '09 at tonight's City Council meeting. He'll need the state of New Jersey's approval before passing anything.

"Anything that I'm presenting needs the state of New Jersey's approval and needs the municipal council's approval as well," said Roberts. "We're not arrogantly ignoring the fact that the state is involved. We understand that all of this will have to be ordained by the state of New Jersey but there's no harm in rolling up our sleeves and creating some new ideas."

What are some aspects of Roberts' three-part spending plan?

Mason requests more transparency from the DCA

Councilwoman Beth Mason

Mason requests more transparency from the DCA

July 12, 2008,

2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason is requesting more transparency from the state of New Jersey as they review Hoboken's budget.

Mason says the DCA is only talking about Hoboken's financial health with the mayor -- she wants the City Council in on the conversation, too.

After the jump, read a copy of a letter Mason sent to Susan Jacobucci, Director of Local Government Services for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, this past Thursday. Mason is basically asking the DCA to keep the City Council in the loop regarding their financial takeover of Hoboken.

Hoboken is embarrassing thanks to these people

Dear Editor:

Hoboken. A national embarrassment in its administration of its police department. A regional embarrassment in its administration of its finances.

So after almost two complete terms as Mayor, and over a decade on the City Council, Dave Roberts has the gall to blame Beth Mason? And to use quotes from such distinguished (Ha!) Hudson County Mayors as Joe Doria and Richard Turner to defend himself?

Did Dave Roberts follow a rabbit through a rabbit hole to some Alice-in-Wonderland place to use fellow Hudson County pols to defend his incompetence? Let's review the facts:

DCA warns Hoboken not to hire public employees, consultants

HOBOKEN - State supervision is definitely underway.

Two hours before Wednesday's City Council meeting, Susan Jacobucci, director of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, sent a letter to Hoboken Mayor David Roberts and City Clerk James Farina telling them not to hire any employees or consultants until the Division of Local Government Services completes its review of the city's finances.

The DCA took over Hoboken's finances on June 23 after the City Council failed to adopt a spending plan for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Finally, on June 30, the City Council passed a budget crafted by state officials that sloughed off dealing with a $10.5 million deficit to the fiscal year that began July 1.

Botched budget finally approved. Now Hoboken knows what to spend... for last year

The  Hoboken City Council passed a budget this week after a rocky end to the fiscal year. The budget went from $87 million to more than $100 million during the course of the fiscal year. See timeline below.  

This past Monday, the city of Hoboken passed a budget for the fiscal year that actually ended on the very same day.

The 2007-2008 fiscal year budget is far from perfect; it is short $3.6 million in revenue, and it excludes $8.1 million in expenses that will be paid for next year instead. That makes the total shortfall $11.7 million. It also includes more than half a million dollars in unpaid bills. But it has the state's blessing nonetheless.

The approved budget is $92.6 million, but the actual total expected spending from the previous fiscal year is $100.7 million, which does not include a separate budget for the $13.4 million operations of the Parking Utility.

Hoboken may face 50 percent tax hike

The city's taxpayers could be hit with a 50 percent increase on their next bill, unless the city council comes up with another way to close an $11.7 million budget gap.

During a heated meeting Wednesday night, council members were livid they had not been given precise budget numbers, which they requested last week and believed would be provided at the meeting.

Business Administrator Richard England responded he did not realize he was supposed to bring the information but promised the administration would provide it the next morning - which it did.

Council sitting on Hoboken's budget

The administration proposed to increase a loan that would use the municipal garage as collateral from $13.9 million to up to $19 million. That loan would also need to be secured with a $3.7 million bond sale.

Faced with the choice between a tax hike or de facto borrowing to bridge a several-million-dollar budget gap, the City Council Thursday night voted to do neither, opening the door for the state to take over the city's finances.

Officials have described the budget gap as between $3.5 million and at least $8 million, and several council members said they couldn't vote on a fix for it until they had clearer numbers to work with. Others said they did not trust the administration's budget numbers and would welcome state intervention, accusing Mayor David Roberts of hiding overspending, a charge he denied.

Hoboken, developer get June court date in garage site battle

A court date has been set for the lawsuit over the sale of the municipal garage site to a developer who plans to put up residential housing.

In January, MDK Development LLC filed a lawsuit against the city and developer S.Hekemian Group, which won the right to buy the property, charging that the city's bidding process was "arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable," and violates the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

City Hall Shutdown, Can it Happen Again?

"The train has already left the station" said Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer in response to attempts to make major financial cuts "eight months into the FY2008 budget year."

How ironic...  Almost three years to the day that Hoboken City Government "closed down" back in March, 2005, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts and the City Council are once again battling over the City budget. 

Deja vu.  And even more remarkable is that the City finds itself with another budget funding shortfall and once again must rely upon a cash advance (LOAN) on the sale of the Municipal garage complex.    

Thus far, budget years FY2005, FY2006, and FY2007 have all relied upon cash advances from the sale of the Municipal garage and “budget magic” to balance the City’s budget.  This past November, the Roberts Administration introduced the FY2008 budget.  The $ 87M spending plan relied upon a $ 4M cash advance from the sale of the garage and the potential for a 2.5% tax increase.

City Hall Shutdown?  Can it happen again?  YOU DECIDE! Read this five page report with two News4 videos on the 2005 City Hall shutdown.

City Council Meeting Excerpt Report for March 19, 2008: City Budget FY2008

Life in the fast lane. City asking State to approve another $ 7M "cash advance" on the Municipal Garage sale to balance this years budget. Lawsuit to overturn Garage Sale filed by unsuccessful developer and a private citizen.

The March 19, 2008 Hoboken City Council meeting lasted almost 5 hours. The hot topic of the night was the $ 93M AMENDED FY2008 BUDGET, a $ 16M INCREASE over last year's $ 78M budget.

City administrators are awaiting State approval of several revenue items, including a $ 7M upfront cash loan against the proceeds of the $ 25.5 M Municipal Garage sale. To date, the City currently owes a finance company $ 13.5M that was used to offset previous year's budget deficits.

Hoboken City Budgets

Hoboken Special Interest Groups

The proposed AMENDED FY2008 Hoboken City Budget has a $ 94M price tag and represents a $ 16M increase over the FY2007, $78M spending plan

FY2008 Budget Report: Efficiency, Economic and Quality of Life Recommendations

Richard Tremitiedi's report on the FY2008 City Budget

To:  Honorable Mayor David Roberts   Report
From:  Richard Tremitiedi, Special Advisor

Date:  March 17, 2008

Subject:  Efficiency, Economic and Quality of Life Recommendations

Relative to my role as a special consultant to the mayor and after attending council meetings, budget workshops, and select discussions with professionals, administrative and elected officials, please be advised as follows:

Tremetiedi sees only massive MONEY, not massive building

I am writing in response to Richard Tremitiedi's letter which appeared here on February 10. He summarized the controversial history of the Municipal Garage. He bemoaned that the City has opened itself to another lawsuit and has "left $4.6 million on the table" in its recent selection of a Garage site developer.

I agree at least with the early assessment in his letter. In 2005, it would be generous to describe the City's deficit-plugging sale and lease back of the garage as merely short-sighted. The resulting $120,000/month interest payment (for the past 18 months) is a testament to the wisdom of that decision. Beyond this, I cannot agree with Mr. Tremitiedi.

Not so fast! Developer and resident file joint lawsuit against city over sale of municipal garage

At the December 13, 2007 Hoboken City Council meeting, Hani Ahmed warned that the Hoboken Municipal Garage deal would be challenged in court.

During a meeting last August, Developer Michael Kasparian, the owner of MDK Development, which previously placed two bids to purchase the city’s Municipal Garage site last year, questioned the city’s planning consultant Gordon Litwin over why earlier bids were disregarded by the city. MDK filed a lawsuit against the city earlier this week in which it alleges the city’s actions in the bidding process to be in violation of the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

THE GARAGE – Hoboken’s Municipal Garage, at the corner of Willow Avenue and Observer Highway, is costing the city $102,000 every month to lease, and if the current agreement survives the lawsuit, will one day be home to a 12-story, 240-unit residential complex.  
Just over a month after a divided City Council designated a developer to build housing on the Public Works Garage Site on Observer Highway, a competing developer and a Hoboken resident filed a joint lawsuit challenging the city's bidding process and choice of developer.

Developer MDK Development LLC, which bid $5 million more than the winning bidder for the site, is asking the Superior Court of New Jersey to order Hoboken to undertake a new RFP (Request for Proposals) process and force the city to return any bid security it has received from the chosen developer.

Chop, chop, chop. Council proposes $2M in cuts to $87M budget, but finance director says they're not all feasible

In an attempt to curb spending and reduce a proposed municipal tax increase, Hoboken's City Council Revenue and Finance Committee introduced a plan at Wednesday night's council meeting that if adopted, could reduce the proposed $87 million city budget by approximately $2.4 million.

The budget is now six months late, as local budgets often are, as mayors grasp at revenue deals in order to hold off politically unsavory tax increases.

However, this time, the council, members of the public, and the administration have suggested specific cuts.

It's Sold - 12- and 8-story buildings will replace Observer Highway Garage

(Click image to hear HANY AHMED's comments to the Hoboken City Council regarding the garage sale)

If all goes as planned, Hoboken residents will soon become accustomed to a new, 8- to 12-story residential complex stretching from Newark Street to Observer Highway as a result of the council’s decision to approve the sale of the Municipal Public Works Garage during Thursday evening’s special session.  

After five years of discussions and setbacks, the City Council finally approved a resolution Thursday night to accept a $25.5 million bid for the city's 1.1-acre Observer Highway Public Works Garage.

In return, a developer will be allowed to build a 240-unit residential structure that will rise to eight stories along Newark Street and 12 stories along Observer Highway.

Proposed city budget soars to $87M. Expect 2.49 percent property tax increase; public hearings Wed, Thur

Mayor David Roberts introduced the city’s proposed 2007-2008 Fiscal Year budget of $87 million to the council this past Wednesday, the largest spending increase in many years. The city plans to hold two public meetings about the budget in the coming week.

Prepare for one of the biggest city spending hikes in 14 years - with a tax increase as a result. At this past Wednesday's council meeting, Mayor David Roberts introduced the proposed city budget for July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. If approved at a future meeting, it will see a spending increase of $8 million from last year, to $87 million.

Included in the budget is a 2.49 percent tax increase, which for the average homeowner is an increase of $221 per year for every $250,000 of assessed property, according to Roberts.

Possible $86M budget is very serious business!

Dear Editor:

I accepted Mayor David Robert's appointment as an Advisor for $1.00 per year to provide advice and suggestions to help with financial planning and quality of life issues important to the taxpayers and residents of the City of Hoboken. At that time I was not aware that the 2008 fiscal year budget (yet to submitted) would rise to $86 million from the current budget of $78 million.

Hoboken cancels contracts

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.

Budget battle ensues at City Hall Possible amendments for the 2007 budget

At the heart of the current budget debate simmering between City Hall and 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo is the municipal garage on Observer Highway, which the city has been using to plug budget gaps for the past two years.

The anticipated revenue that the city expects to generate from the sale of the municipal garage on Observer Highway has been included as $3 million line item in the introduced SFY 2007 budget, which is approximately the same amount of money Russo claims to be able to save the city through his amendments.

According to the city's Business Administrator, Richard England, the only issue currently preventing the 2007 budget from getting the state's approval, which would allow the city council to make it official, is a contract involving the sale of the garage and a developer who would be required to provide $3 million to the city on or prior to June 30 of this year, which is the last day of Hoboken's 2007 fiscal year.

Part-time attorneys' pensions under fire Trenton seeks to restrict state retirement funds

Local government attorneys, who for decades have parlayed part-time political appointments into generous taxpayer-funded retirements, would be shut out of the state pension system under a variety of measures gaining momen tum in Trenton.

Trustees of the retirement system for state and local government workers have asked the Attorney General to review whether any part-time professionals should qualify for the state retirement program.

City Budget: Let's look at some things the City Council is doing

Dear Editor:
I say kudos to Lane Bajardi and Rick Kamber for rounding up their communities and constantly applying public pressure on City Council to vote in favor of what's best for their communities'.  We should further challenge the Administration and City Council to work harder in creating a balance between what is best for the City of Hoboken when it comes to public policy and the budget. You simply cannot just steam roll the public to fund a deficit!

It's August - Do you know where your budget is?

Four Hudson County towns are always late - and your wallet suffers
Hoboken approved their 2006 municipal budget 10 months late.  Jersey City was nine months late.  Bayonne was 11 months late, and Union City was also 11 months late.  Since the year 2000, late budgets in these four towns have cost local politicians their jobs, forced tax hikes, and in one case, shut down city government completely.

Observer Hwy bldg can rise 9 stories, not 12. Council votes against bigger maximum on old garage property

The Hoboken City Council voted down an ordinance Wednesday night that would have raised the allowable height for development at the city's municipal garage property on Observer Highway from nine to 12 stories.

But Mayor David Roberts said that raising the maximum would allow the city to sell the land for more money and use that money to buy park space elsewhere.

Muni Garage plan is sound, serving the needs of all in the city

As Chairman of the Observer Highway Redevelopment Advisory Committee, I would like to respond to last week's inaccurate letter by Hank Forrest.

Work on a plan for the Municipal Garage was not done in a "short time frame" as Mr. Forrest states. It began in April 2005 when the City Council proposed the creation of the OHRA Committee, later appointed by Mayor Roberts. The Mayor identified PPSA as the planning firm he wanted for the project -- the same firm Mr. Forrest often compliments for their work on the Master Plan.

Council rejects bids for garage. Now $5mil budget hole presents problem again

In the mad dash to plug a $5 million budget gap by June 30, a divided Hoboken City Council was left in a precarious position Wednesday night.

On the table were two bids from development groups that want to buy the city's municipal garage on Observer Highway and build high-end condos.

The council's lawyers deemed both of the bids - for $22.1 million and $18 million respectively - deficient. Yet, there were those on the council that wanted to approve the high bid as a way to instantly shore up the city's budget and reap a cash windfall.

Latest chapter in saga of fiscal irresponsibility comes to a close

Last night the Hoboken City Council closed the latest chapter in its saga of fiscal irresponsibility. The chapter started, as you may recall, last July 1 at the beginning of the fiscal year.

As the city overspent during the prior fiscal year they had to borrow $7.9 million and place a lien on the Observer Highway municipal garage. The garage land would eventually be sold to repay the loan. This started a dual process. On one hand the City Administration promised to create a realistic budget, which seemed possible since there are lots of new ratables (Condos) in town.

Hoboken's finance tricks backfire

If the past decade of real estate sales is any indication, what hotter place is there than Hoboken to acquire property and then develop it for a small fortune?

This must have been on the minds of city officials when they decided to buy the garage back from the Hudson County Improvement Authority and then sell it to a developer at a substantial profit to fill a $5 million budget shortfall in the 2006 municipal budget.

Hoboken garage site bids well short of expectations

HOBOKEN - It was a disappointing holiday weekend for city officials reviewing bids for the one-acre municipal garage redevelopment site on Observer Highway.

Prior to the deadline, before the close of business Friday of the Memorial Day weekend, only two developers submitted bids on the property - and both were short of what the city had been hoping for, said Fred Bado, director of community development.

According to Bado, the top bid of $22.1 million was submitted by Metro-Ran Garage Stop LLC - a partnership consisting of Robert Ranieri, Jr., Dean Geibel, and Louis Picardo, who is also the city's tax collector.

The lower bid of $18 million was submitted by Applied Development Company and Cali Futures LLC.

Compromise plan pitched for Municipal Garage. Council, community advisory committee propose 240-units, nine stories

The Hoboken City Council has unveiled its redevelopment plan for the Municipal Garage on Observer Highway. The proposed plan includes zoning for 240 units of housing that could rise nine stories on Observer Highway. The buildings would get lower and lower as they move toward Newark Street.

The property has been the center of controversy since the city announced that it wanted to sell the property in order to fill a budget gap and generate revenue.

City votes for Municipal Garage redevelopment. Budget depends on $5M from sale, debate over what to build begins

The Hoboken City Council unanimously voted Monday night to place the city's Municipal Garage on Observer Highway into a new redevelopment zone.

This will allow the council, which also serves as the city's redevelopment authority, to sell the property to a redeveloper for a sizable profit.

But some worry that the city shouldn't be basing development and zoning decisions largely on the need to fill a budget hole.

$73.2M city budget; $51M school budget

Hoboken residents will be able to speak at Wednesday's City Council meeting on the proposed $73.2 million Hoboken city budget, and they will be able to vote on April 18 on the recently approved $51.2 million school budget.

Both budgets figure into residents' property tax payments, along with the county budget to be struck in June.

Garage may be replaced by 12-story building. City moves to be able to sell Observer Highway facility to developer

The Hoboken Planning Board voted Monday to label the city's Municipal Garage on Observer Highway an "area in need of redevelopment." If the City Council accepts this recommendation at a special meeting Monday at 6 p.m., the council can choose a developer to build on the site and then sell the property to that developer for a needed cash infusion.

The city is already anticipating $5 million in this year's proposed $72 million municipal budget from the sale. A similar situation occurred last year, but a council minority balked at the deal, forcing the budget to be held up longer and city government to temporarily shut down. The minority did not want to be rushed into the deal. For the current fiscal year, a proposed city budget was introduced in December but has still not been finalized, even though the year began last July 1 and ends in three months.

Look at all of this escessive spending

Dear Editor:

After a holiday respite, I returned to reading about our municipal government in the local newspapers and found that, well, not much had changed.

First, the local daily reported a week or so ago that despite the fact that Hoboken is one of the smallest cities in Hudson County, the two highest paid municipal employees in the County are our Fire Chief, John Cassesa, and our Police Chief, Carmen LaBruno. In fact, according to the report, Mr. LaBruno is the highest paid police chief in the nation. That's a stunner. It would mean he earns more than, say, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, whose police force is at least a hundred of times larger and who is responsible for America's most important counter-terrorism efforts. I'm sure being police chief of any city is no easy job, but is Hoboken's police chief really worth more than Ray Kelly?

Second, I read that the School Board filled its soon-to-be-vacant business administrator slot with an assistant administrator earning more than $100,000 per year. One would assume that when a new permanent administrator is selected, he or she will earn at least as much as the assistant, saddling the taxpayer with more than $200,000 in executive salaries sitting atop the school system. In addition, I read that Patrick Gagliardi, the Superintendent, will probably be bought out of his contract, at the cost of several hundred thousand dollars. The School Board had just extended that contract this Spring, in the heat of the Mayoral and School Board campaigns, a decision that appears to have been politically motivated, was otherwise unnecessary at the time (since the contract was nowhere near expiring), and will now impose substantial severance costs on Hoboken's taxpayers. And then, as if that was not enough, I learned that David Anthony, a longtime Board member, is taking the Secretary's position, at a $37,000 salary, presumably to help the Board to keep track of all this spending, but that someone must have forgotten to check to see if the position was actually vacant. Apparently, it is not vacant, and so now we have two School Board Secretaries. With all of this money dancing around, is anyone paying attention to the interests of the students?

Lastly, not to be outdone, I read that our City's leader, David Roberts, at over $124,000, is the Hudson County salary king of mayors, earning $25,000 more than the mayor of Jersey City, one of the largest cities in our state. Mr. Roberts campaigned for re-election last Spring on a platform of fiscal responsibility. If, after five years as Mayor, his own salary level and those of other City officials are any indication, one has to wonder about that promise. Maybe he meant he'll be more responsible next year?

I think I'll go back to ignoring the newspapers for awhile. It's less painful that way, at least until the tax bill arrives.

Ricky Mason

City introduces $67M budget

MONEY MATTERS – On Oct. 19, the Hoboken City Council is scheduled to hold a

hearing on the 2005-2006 fiscal year budget.  

The Hoboken City Council has introduced a $67 million budget for the 2005-2006 fiscal
year that, while $5 million less than the year before, does include a possible 2 percent tax increase.

The budget can be amended with council suggestions (see sidebar) and will have a public hearing before the final vote, probably in October.

City budget approved 5-4. Taxes stable, final vote on garage pending

he Hoboken City Council has a budget. In many communities, that would be the end of the story, but not in Hoboken's turbulent political waters.

Budget talk will likely continue at least until the May 10 mayoral and City Council election.

On Monday, the council approved its $72 million 2004-2005 fiscal year budget by a vote of 5-4.

Mayor David Roberts praised the budget Tuesday and said he looks forward to moving forward with the business of the city.

How did it get this far? The full Story of why the city Shut down last week

To be fully funded, Roberts' budget relied on a plan to sell the city's municipal garage to the Hudson County Improvement Authority, a quasi-autonomous public agency, for at least $7.9 million. The HCIA would then lease it back to the city. Thus, the HCIA would be lending the city at least $7.9 million.

The garage property is really worth $10 to $20 million, so if the HCIA sold it later, it would give the profits to Hoboken.

Back open for business. After shutting city services, City Council passes temporary budget

ity services were re-opened at the end of last week after a stalemate over the city's $72 million budget had forced non-essential services to shut down for two days.

Since the City Council has not yet approved Mayor David Roberts' permanent city budget, which was proposed back in September, they have been passing temporary budgets each month to keep the city running. On Monday, four council members who have been opposing the mayor's spending policies (including two who are running against him for mayor May 10) voted against the latest temporary budget.

Garage sale fails. City must find $7.9 million or look to taxes, layoffs.

At a raucous City Council meeting Wednesday, the council was unable to pass Mayor David Roberts' proposal to sell the municipal garage to the Hudson County Improvement Authority, a quasigovernmental agency. The intent was to use $7.9 million from the sale to plug a budget deficit.

Wednesday's vote required six of the nine council members, but only five of them voted in the affirmative. Thus, the council must find $7.9 million in new revenues for the 2004-2005 budget. Options include making drastic cuts to the municipal workforce or raising the municipal portion of the tax levy by over one-third, all of which could be burdensome considering there are only about four months left in the fiscal year.

City Budget: Structural deficit creates budgetary challenges. Large gap filled by selling property and front-loading PILOTs

To fill the city's structural budget deficit last year, the city refinanced its debt at a higher interest rate for a longer term, which was not a particularly popular move. This year, to fill another large budget gap in its proposed $72 million spending plan, the administration of Mayor David Roberts is recommending that city sell off some of its property and front-load a number of Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs).

City Budget: Automatic parking garage to be sold. A look inside Hoboken's $72M budget

The good news about Hoboken's proposed $72 million budget is that the tax rate is staying relatively stable. The bad news is that instead of hiking taxes, the city will again need to raise money by relying on the sales of public facilities.

A sizable structural deficit, largely caused by $6.2 million in unpredicted overspending on health insurance increases and other matters, has prompted the administration to rely on several controversial one-time, non-recurring revenues. These include frontloading several PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes from tax-abated properties) and the selling of city owned land for the purpose of short-term tax relief.

Tell the council what you think. Budget and bond restructuring hearing to be held Wednesday

This Wednesday's Hoboken City Council meeting should be one of the more interesting and contentious meetings of the year.

The city's governing body is scheduled to hold a public hearing for the city's proposed $53.7 million budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Also, the nine-member board will hold a public hearing and a final vote on a controversial proposal by Mayor David Roberts' administration to restructure the city's debt.

City Budget: Mayor introduces $57.3M budget Is likely to include layoffs; tax rate stable

At a brief meeting of the Hoboken City Council Tuesday, the city's governing body voted to introduce Mayor David Roberts' $57.3 million 2003 to 2004 municipal budget.

The mayor's preliminary budget is significantly lower than the $62.8 million spending plan that was approved for the 2002-to-2003 fiscal year, which had been a big increase over the previous year. The new budget also is a couple of hundred thousand dollars less than Roberts' first budget in 2001.

City Budget: Open letter to the Honorable David Roberts

Dear Mayor Roberts:

The purpose of this letter is to summarize the consensus of the Advisory Committee that you convened to discuss with you the fiscal alternatives that the City of Hoboken is currently considering. The Advisory Committee represents a cross section of large and small business owners as well as policy-makers.

City Budget: New bond proposal will provide a win-win situation for our city

Dear Editor:

Soon, I will formally present a rough draft of my 2004 municipal budget to the City Council through a series of workshops. This is the earliest in years that our City Council will have the opportunity to review our spending plan and provide their recommendations.

While I would like to hold off on specifics until I meet with each council member individually, I would like to share some highlights that I strongly believe will be beneficial to our community. As I previously announced, the budget will be significantly lower than last year's and will maintain a stabilized tax rate.

City Budget: Mayor to present $55M bond issue; says layoffs are coming, but so is money for parks

BUSY LOBBYING - Mayor David Roberts is preparing to present a $55 million bond resolution before the City Council.  

In what is shaping up to be a defining moment in Mayor David Roberts' administration, he will likely present a $55 million bond resolution to the Hoboken City Council in the near future, but passage of it hinges on one vote.

City Budget: OK, let's look at what Roberts has done - and hasn't

In his letter in the Oct. 27 issue, Hoboken's Chief Financial Officer Michael Lenz asks that the we judge the Roberts administration "on what we do". I agree. Let's look at their fiscal record.

Councilman Roberts used to rail against high spending at the Board of Education. Yet in the last election, Mayor Roberts took no position on the budget? How should we view his silence?

City Budget 2003: $59.6M budget introduced Spending up; city hopes for $4M in aid

Mayor David Roberts’ proposed 2003 budget hinges on $4 million more in state aid.  

The City Council introduced Mayor David Roberts' 2003 fiscal year budget at a special meeting of the City Council Thursday night. According to city Business Administrator Robert Drasheff, the new budget is still a work in progress and could change before it is adopted.

City Budget: City proposes 2001-2002 municipal budget with 2-cent tax decrease

The City Council introduced a $54.8 million budget Wednesday night that cuts spending and taxes slightly. The plan covers the city's expected expenditures and revenues from July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2002.