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Budget meeting suddenly postponed. Council will now meet Monday, debate options for filling $7.9M hole

Despite a judge's recommendation for the Hoboken City Council to immediately start working together to approve a final budget, Mayor David Roberts canceled a special City Council meeting scheduled for this past Wednesday night.

The meeting was supposed to provide an opportunity for warring factions of the nine-member council to sit down and discuss the 10-month-late $72 million city budget.

But hours before the meeting was to be held, Roberts canceled it. He has instead scheduled a council meeting for Monday at 8 p.m. at City Hall.

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.

A look inside the Parking Utility's books. Report shows better enforcement, more people using municipal garages in 2004

There's good news and bad news regarding the Hoboken Parking Utility, the city agency that deals with parking permits, garages, and enforcement.

The fact that the city issued 82,191 tickets for violations last year might be bad news for the 82,191 people who parked at expired meters or without a permit. The good news is that the HPU's own report, issued last week, shows more parking enforcement and more people using the city-run garages.

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.

Entrance to Hoboken cave unearthed. Flowing spring, brick wall, cobblestone floor found at site where Poe based story

Sybil's Cave has long been a part of Hoboken's local lore. Wealthy Manhattanites once picnicked outside, health seekers drank water with supposed medicinal powers from its spring, and Edger Allen Poe based a detective story on events there.

But for the better part the last century, the cave has been buried under brush, dirt, and rock, and has slowly seeped into Hoboken legend.

Last year, Mayor David Roberts, who has heard many stories about the famous but hidden landmark, set out to find Sybil's Cave, which is located in the mountainous side of Sinatra Drive at the base of Stevens Institute of Technology. He wanted to reopen it in time for the city's 150th birthday celebration next year.

BIG HOUSE FOR BARRY. Hoboken developer is sentenced to 25 months in kickback scheme Ordered to pay $1M restitution, $20G fine 100-plus supporters, dad attend sentencing

NEWARK - Hoboken-based developer Joseph Barry was sentenced yesterday to two years and one month in federal prison, ordered to make $1 million in restitution and fined $20,000 for making kickbacks to disgraced Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski.

Barry pleaded guilty in June to four counts of making illegal payments in connection with a federal program. The remaining counts, conspiracy and five mail fraud charges, were dismissed as part of a plea-bargain arrangement.

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.