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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.  
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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.

Ed Mecka's daughter is a smartie pants

Ed Mecka's daughter is a smartie pants

Saturday June 28, 2008, 11:16 AM
by Carly - Hoboken Now NJ.COM

Ever read EdMecka.com? It's a well-respected insider's Hoboken political blog, written by the eponymous Mr. Ed Mecka himself.

And this isn't exactly breaking news, but Ed's daughter, Lauren Mecka, e-mailed Hoboken Now to announce that she was recently inducted into the National Society of High School Scholars, recognition given to high school students who have achieved academic excellence. (Inductees into the National Society of High School Scholars are chosen by the Nobel family -- yeah, that Nobel family.)

Lauren is a student at the Hudson School in Hoboken. Congratulations, Lauren! Dad must be proud :-)

And check out what Lauren thinks about Hoboken's pooper scooper laws.

State police look into missing parking $$$

City Attorney Steven Kleinman confirmed on Thursday that the state police are looking into possibly missing money from the Hoboken Parking Utility's collections from parking meters.

The city may file litigation against the coin collection company, United Textile Fabricators, a Toms River-based company that allegedly misplaced as much as $582,352 last October that they counted for the city. The money was returned in installments beginning in November 2007, but without interest.

The owner of United Textile Fabricators is Brian Petaccio, former co-owner of Grayhound Electronics, who was indicted to state Grand Jury racketeering charges on March 7, 1991.

According to Kleinman, the company has since surrendered the funds to the city, but without interest. He said that the city has stopped using the company and is with holding payments until the matter is settled.

"The administration is looking at all aspects of United Textile Fabricators," Kleinman said Thursday.

HPU Parking Director John Corea had previously said at the Dec. 6 council meeting that his agency's most recent internal audit only showed $34.61 missing.

NJ probing Hoboken's meter $$$

The Hoboken Parking Utility is under investigation by the New Jersey State Police, say sources with knowledge of the investigation.

"It is accurate that the city is currently reviewing issues involving the Hoboken Parking Utility," Hoboken Corporation Counsel Steve Kleinman confirmed yesterday. "There is a law enforcement aspect to this matter, however, (so) I am constrained from commenting further at this time."

Kleinman said the investigation is related to United Textile Fabricators, the company that collected the revenue from the city's parking meters from December 2005 until a few months ago. Last October, it was learned that UTF owed Hoboken at least $582,352 in revenues that the company collected but didn't give to the city. UTF paid Hoboken in full by the end of last year.

Appellate court tosses out memo

The state Superior Court Appellate Division upheld a trial court's decision to nullify a 2005 "memorandum of understanding" between the City of Hoboken and Tarragon/URSA.

The appellate court agreed that the memorandum "effectively appointed Tarragon as the redeveloper" of a 10.75-acre site adjacent to the Northwest Redevelopment Area without following the proper steps under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law.

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.

City Council wants SWAT leak inquiry

Councilmembers are demanding an investigation into the leak of a scathing report by the city's labor attorney into the Hoboken SWAT team/Hooters scandal to the media.

"We've asked for a copy of the Corrigan report," said City Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer at Wednesday's council meeting, referring to the report by city labor attorney David Corrigan. "Fox News got a copy and The Jersey Journal got a copy and we've been asking for it and we haven't seen it."

REPORT: SWAT WORSE THAN WASTE Internal probe sees LaBruno in 'illegal' pact

Police Chief Carmen LaBruno, who is retiring at the end of next month with a six-figure pension, and former SWAT team leader Lt. Angelo Andriani abused their positions of authority and engaged in illegal conduct, a scathing internal investigation into the Hoboken Police Department has found.

LaBruno and Andriani, who is suspended in the wake of the SWAT team scandal, are not the only cops slammed in the report. Members of the SWAT team who have filed a discrimination lawsuit against Andriani and the department also are treated harshly in the report.

Bergin: Too many potential sources

HOBOKEN - City officials were furious yesterday that the findings of an internal investigation had been leaked to the media, but appeared undecided whether to pursue an investigation to determine who did it.

The Hoboken Now blog (NJ.com/HobokenNow) and Fox 5 News both had stories on the findings of city labor attorney David Corrigan's investigation into the Hoboken Police Department.

City attorney Steven Kleinman said that no one connected to the city released it and doing so was a "violation of New Jersey attorney general guidelines."

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.