Despite the difficult social-economic situation being experienced by the city of Paterson, key elected officials prefer to score political points unlike leadership and responsibility to confront the problems facing this city.
On one hand, by putting the future of our children in the hands of the party bosses by trying to move the election of the board of education to November and with it about $ 550 million to their disposal, which has been promoted by the president of the Board of Education.
Furthermore, the surprising lack of responsibility of some of our political representatives to try to declare the city in a “State of Emergency” without the support of the administration, or the majority of the city council thus simply shows the incompetence of the political leadership to solve the basic problems facing the city today, such as the growth of criminal activities. Attempting a State Emergency declaration proposed by the President of the City Council, is in contradiction to the necessary economic revitalization and image makeover that is much needed in this city.
To all of this, it is added the irresponsibility and lack of knowledge of budgeting processes demonstrated by the city council by rejecting the budget introduced by the administration, putting at risk the "Transitional Aid" given by the state to our municipality. This assistance is estimated at $ 20 million this fiscal year and if we don’t receive the aid, we’ll be facing an unsustainable and catastrophic increase in property tax. To apply for this "Transitional Aid", the deadline was extended until Monday October 1st and the city had to submit an approved introductory budget. The introductory budget, rejected by the city council on Friday night, brings to light the lack of knowledge of the budget process. For some modifications to be made to the budget, you first need the introductory budget approved, then go to a revised budget (Amended) which contains modifications and suggestions made by the council. At the end of those changes, this becomes the final budget (Adopted). By not having the introductory budget approved, the application for the Transitional Aid will be incomplete which is risking the desperately needed $20 million.
We must go forward! In my humble opinion, the City Council must be declared in permanent session to discuss the budget and decree a "Zero Base Budget". This technique may not be new but it may be the only option to find the savings that would lead the city to be financially responsible. A zero-based budget would bring each and every one of the department heads to build their budget from "Zero" explaining each budget line and prioritizing the different departmental spending programs, to which the council working together with the department heads would modify these budget lines. This is the opportunity for our City Council to take the lead which they were elected for, leaving aside political interests and share responsibility in addressing the problems we face today.
Former BOE Commissioner