Politics, like life, is all about building bridges.
As a two-term Mayor of Paterson I believed it was to the benefit of the City to build bridges (alliances) with those who could help Paterson. I believe working closely and cooperatively with Governor’s McGreevey and Corzine helped us secure the funding Paterson needed to keep our property taxes from rising unnecessarily.
Governor Christie made it perfectly clear that cities expecting state Transitional Aid must meet certain guidelines: 1. Reduce dependence on state funds; 2. Implement cost saving initiatives; 3. Work cooperatively with state officials; 4. DCA approval is required for all hiring; 5. Deny non-essential hires and raises.
All mayors sign a Memorandum of Understanding when applying for state Transitional Aid. During my second term as Mayor I realized that cutbacks were inevitable and by the time I left office I had effectively reduced the city’s payroll by about 100 positions saving the taxpayers of Paterson a significant amount of money.
In his Memorandum of Understanding Mayor Jones requested from the state $47.7 million in state Transitional Aid and the application for funds included the hiring of approximately 200 additional city employees at a cost to the Paterson taxpayer of $3.8 million. This was a foolish request in light of the Mayor’s 24% self authorized personal salary increase, his $1 million cabinet and the most recent fiasco involving exorbitant FEMA claims and more than $50,000 paid to the Mayor and his staff for working “overtime” during hurricane Irene. A preliminary investigation forced the Mayor and his staff to return the money.
As a result Paterson will receive less than half of what was requested, and even less than we received last year, and Paterson’s taxpayers are looking at another tax increase between 5% and 20% - in violation to the state legislature’s cap of 2%.