JERSEY CITY, NJ - Mayor Steven M. Fulop introduced the CY 2020 municipal budget Monday which once again, despite a COVID-19 induced negative impact of $70 million, includes no tax increases at the local level.
As communities face crippling budgetary burdens, the Fulop Administration’s proactive steps to aggressively address unprecedented financial hardships amid the health and economic crisis have helped alleviate taxpayer burdens while creating a more resilient and sustainable economic future for Jersey City, city officials have said.
“We have been focused on the hardships our residents are facing amid this pandemic, which is why we were dedicated to finding financial avenues on the city’s side to balance the biggest budget instability we’ve ever faced while avoiding further financial burden for taxpayers who are already struggling,” Fulop shared. “Our budget team has been working since day one to finance the expansive city services and resources that are experiencing more demand than ever before, while simultaneously plugging a gaping budget hole in the wake of the pandemic that has crippled other municipalities across the nation.”
This year’s budget includes approximately $25 million in immediate and long-term savings from voluntary employee buyouts, hiring freezes, restructuring personnel, elimination of overtime costs, reassessment of operational efficiencies, healthcare cost reevaluation, program inventory assessments, reducing and eliminating operating costs and contracts, internal audits, and debt restructuring. The city will also leverage approximately $20 million in CARES Act funding to help offset additional expenses incurred.
While this year’s budget has been crafted under extraordinary circumstances, it also commits long-term financial recovery and safeguards with comprehensive fiscal management plans to create better internal financial policies, controls, and safeguards as well as exploratory shared service agreements, a statement read.
Over the past months the Administration's efforts to stabilize local finance have earned the notice of the Moody’s who gave Jersey City a “stable” credit rating while at the same time giving many other cities credit downgrades and negative reviews. “The city government is taking strong action to address both the public health needs of the city and the budgetary implications thereof,” Moody’s said in a report. “The city also has extensive plans to address the substantial expected losses of revenue.”
“We examined each budget item line-by-line, as the Mayor was clear he did not want the municipal taxes to go up and further devastate residents,” said John Metro, Director of the Department of Finance. “From the hiring freeze to reassessing city operations, we have chipped away at one of the largest budget deficits the city has ever faced, and were able to produce a budget to continue the critical services that residents rely on and still find cost savings.”
The Mayor's CY 2020 budget proposal will be introduced to the City Council at their Wednesday meeting which will be broadcast remotely and begin at 6:00 p.m.
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