HACKENSACK, N.J. — Mayor John Labrosse and the Hackensack City Council met with City Manager Ted Ehrenburg and city department heads this week to discuss goals for the 2019 fiscal year. City leaders set several ambitious priorities, including establishing a new financial goal of securing a 0% increase in the Municipal Tax Levy over the next five years, a move that would result in significant savings for taxpayers.
"For the last six years, this City Council and our team have worked towards the goal of property tax stabilization and we're proud to report that city finances have reached the point where we can set a responsible goal of not raising Municipal property taxes over the next five years," said Mayor John Labrosse. "I would like to thank all of the members of our finance team, especially Deputy Mayor Canestrino, Councilman Battaglia and our CFO Jim Mangin, for their hard work in making our vision into a reality."
"This achievement is due to years of careful financial planning, tightening our belts and finding efficiencies in our operations wherever possible," said Deputy Mayor Canestrino. "I also want to credit the landmark financial agreements reached between the City and Hackensack University Medical Center that are providing millions in new revenue, as well as our downtown redevelopment plan that will continually add more revenue in coming years as more new developments come online."
City officials laid out the following additional goals for the next year:
- Seeking an increase in the City’s Bond Rating
- Using the surplus policy as a tool for long-term Tax relief
- Keeping the average residential tax payer’s bill the lowest in the area (Currently at $8,493 which is 7th lowest in Bergen County out of the 70 Bergen County districts)
- Develop a comprehensive financial strategy to address flooding
- Work with the County to relax or eliminate Blue Laws in Hackensack
- Enhance Security measures by adding security check points and installing additional cameras in City Buildings
- Complete construction of the 9/11 Memorial at the Fire Department Headquarters
- Increase court sessions by holding municipal court three times a week instead of two
- Install new Smart Meters and allow parking tickets to be paid by phone app
- Expand garbage collection to twice a week pickup all year
- Implement downtown public amenities and technology like WiFi, Bike Share and Kiosks
“Goal setting is an important practice for the City because it fosters greater accountability and shows what gets measured gets done,” City Manager Ted Ehrenburg said. “It makes sure that we are following our procedures, staying within the budget and enhancing our services to the residents. We need to keep a check of that by setting these goals and measuring our progress throughout the year.”
Ehrenburg listed a number of 2018 goals that the City had set and accomplished in the past year, including re-establishing a Rent Stabilization Board, more outdoor programming at Atlantic Street Park, replacing windows and fencing at Hackensack Fire Department, purchasing a new fire and rescue truck and three new Chevy Tahoes, purchasing six new parking enforcement vehicles, acquiring an in-car video system for the Hackensack Police Department and completing upgrades to sewer pipes at the city's 39 Broadway property.
Among the existing projects currently in progress are the two-way conversion of Main Street, which is expected to be completed this Fall, renovations to the M&M Recreation Center, options to relocate the Building Department, improvements to the Police and Fire radio system, installation of a Community Garden, Carver Park tennis courts repairs, plans for sewer system separation and Johnson turf field replacement.
Various department heads expressed gratitude to Mayor Labrosse, the Council and City Manager Ehrenburg for their continued assistance in being able to reach their goals.
“I appreciate our city leaders listening and understanding what we do, why we do what we do and why we need what we need,” Hackensack Fire Chief Tom Freeman said. “It’s not for our own gain or our own personal gratification. It’s to protect our citizens the best way we can. I know that’s your goal and it’s our goal, also.”
“Uninversally, everybody is asked to do more with less and it comes down to a lot of grants and lot of funding,” said Police Director Gerard Marinelli. "It wouldn’t be possible without this mayor, this council, this city manager and all these department heads.”