BAYONNE, NJ - Bayonne Mayor James Davis said on Monday that administrators responsible should be held accountable after the Bayonne Board of Education's proposed budget was rejected by Hudson County officials.
The BOE had asked for a 3.6 percent tax increase and the elimination of an estimated 80 full-time positions in order to close its budget gap. But the BOE's plan to repurpose $3.7 million of dedicated capital funds to the general account was rejected by the county because it was an unauthorized use of capital funds, according to a release from the mayor's office.
The $3.7 million of repurposed funds were, in part, to make retroactive payment to the teachers, as a result of the teachers' contract agreement made in November.
"It is truly upsetting to learn from sources outside of the BOE that they have been unable to get their financial house in order," Davis said in the release from his office. "Since November 2016, when this issue first came to light, I have stood by offering any assistance available only to be rebuked."
The Bayonne Board of Education is currently being audited by the state. With such a large deficit, the board's only options will be more layoffs and higher taxes.
Davis stated that the actions and the lack of transparency by the superintendent and the board were "disappointing" and wanted to know why basic questions were not answered over the past six months. "How does this effect our children? How did this happen? Who is responsibe."
Davis further stated that, "As the leader of the district, the School Superintendent and School Business Administrator should be held accountable."
Davis urged all residents to attend the Board of Education meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
"As a parent, first and foremost, I am concerned with the impact these cuts will have on classroom," Davis said in his statement. "I worry about class sizes, after school programs, sports and the physical condition of many of our schools. I also worry about the promises made to our teachers who settled a contract in good faith on the reliance and representations that the money was available. Teachers who have made plans based upon a contract that now can't be funded and many of who are facing lauyoffs.
"As Mayor, I worry about the impact on an already overtaxed resident. How this issue will effect property values. The budget was based upon facts that never came true, which in the end will leave the taxpayer holding the bag."