PATERSON, NJ - Second Ward Councilman Shahin Khalique wants residents to show up at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to speak out against a recent change to the city’s sewer billing system.
Beyond that, he said, he disagrees with a flyer that was recently distributed door-to-door in both Bangla and English, calling for action.
The full color flyer depicts the results of a city council vote on March 12, 2019, reflecting an 8-0 count in favor of the ordinance that appears to be the one that changed the billing system reflect usage, rather than by flat rates.
“The Administration offered this plan as ‘more equitable’ to property owners,” Khalique said affirming his legislative support for the measure. However, he added, he refused to cast votes in support of a second measure to add a one-time supplemental fee, and, at the same time, as reported by TAPinto Paterson, urged city officials to find a way to decrease taxes.
Khalique says that by indicating that he supported increased sewer bills the flyer is disingenuous, and merely an election ploy by former councilman Mohammed Akhteruzzaman to drum up support for what many observers believe are his own efforts to get the seat he once held back.
“Not only does this flyer fashion a convoluted and erroneous account of the events, but it also further disintegrates the trust the public must have with government,” Kahlique said. “I see this is nothing more than a political opposition group willing to destroy fundamental procedures for short-term victories.”
“I consistently sided with our tax payers,” Khalique said. “I am saddened to see the difficulties many of our neighbors are going through. I see the increases in the sewer fees as nothing more than a hidden tax masquerading as a basic cost of business,” he said of the recently sent sewer bills, the first one under the new system, which have seen many homeowners bills increase, in some cases significantly.
While Akhteruzzaman did not respond to a request for a comment his name and phone number appear on the flyer, and similar photos of the ordinance appear were posted on his Facebook page on November 7.
“Many of you have contacted me stating that the large increase in the sewer bill is unbearable. After speaking to various homeowners and community leaders we decided that we would like to go to the city hall on November 26 to express our concerns,” Akhteruzzaman states in a video. “This is why council members are very important,” he added, pointing to the ordinance.
“Instead of bickering or blaming, please rescind or reconsider this ordinance,” he asks. “I can not do it alone, you can not do it alone,” Akhteruzzaman concludes in a final plea for resident participation.
Reflecting on his own record Khalique stated that he has “voted no on every tax increase consistently. I have voted no for slight increases in basis connection, escrow, and services fee. I have remained loyal to the philosophy that fiscal conservatism and efficient government are keys for a stronger community.”
Concluding with his own campaign offensive Khalique urged potential voters to “investigate the voting record of the prior councilman of my ward, they will find a nearly 100% yes vote to raising our taxes and other fees,” he said.
The council meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 26, 6:30 p.m.
Election Day is Tuesday, May 12.
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