PATERSON, NJ - In their efforts to close the $5.3 million deficit in the city budget, Paterson officials will begin holding a series of hearings on Friday.

The city council will examine the budgets for the fire and community development departments this Friday, review police and public works on February 24 and administration and health and human services on March 2. All the hearings will begin at 6:30 pm at the council chambers in city hall and are open to the public.

During the past four months, city officials have trimmed the $8.5 million deficit in the introduced budget down to about $5.3 million. Even once the deficit is closed, the budget still would include a five-percent tax increase. That hike, coupled with the loss of about $266 million in ratables last year through tax appeals, means the next two tax bills for a home assessed at $350,000 will be a total of about $520 higher than the previous two bills were.

The state has said it would not consider Paterson's request to rehire 37 police officers until the city's budget is balanced.