HOBOKEN, NJ - The City's budget battle continues to loom large on the Hoboken horizon, with dozens of municipal employees already having their jobs terminated in April.
On Wednesday, June 24, the City Council will hold a Special Meeting to host discussions on the local finances.
In a December 17, 2019 memo to Mayor Ravi Bhalla, the City’s now-former Business Administrator Stephen Marks highlighted a combination of healthcare costs ($1,513,450), elevated pension costs ($578,345), and anticipated annual salary increases in the face of collective bargaining negotiations with the City’s six municipal labor unions ($3,200,000).
Those increases are being met by anticipated revenue shortfalls on court fines, investments, debt service increase (bond repayments), departmental budget increases, higher waste disposal fees, and an increase in New Jersey’s Joint Insurance Fund premiums.
According to Marks, “The grand total for anticipated increases for personnel costs and other expenses is $7,420,795,” adding “which does not include the impact of the projected decrease in the municipal surplus regeneration.”
The “surplus” is what remains from the projected budget after all expenses are met. Over time, that surplus accumulates and creates a significant amount of money—essentially a municipal savings account/rainy day fund, which can be used by the City to cover shortfalls, unexpected expenditures or catastrophic events (i.e. storm damage, global pandemic). Depletion of the surplus is estimated to be near $6.5 million, meaning the overall budget shortfall could be projected to be around $14 million. These numbers were determined long before COVID-19's impact on Hoboken and its resources.
Thus far, there has been no formal presentation of the 2020 Budget—despite the layoffs.
In addition to the budget, items on Wednesday's agenda also include a bond ordinance authorizing $4.6 million in renovations to the Hoboken Public Library, an ordinance on Affordable Housing, and a proposal to beautify utility boxes through an Arts initiative.
CLICK HERE for information on how to watch and participate in Wednesday's meeting, which begins at 7:00 p.m.
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