Paterson Top Stories

Update: Mayor Sees Vindication in State's Warning of City Shutdown

bea386e3b956392fe3b0_ptown.jpg
bea386e3b956392fe3b0_ptown.jpg

PATERSON, NJ – State officials on Wednesday warned that Paterson would have to begin issuing layoff notices and alerting vendors that their services may be terminated if the City Council does not approve a temporary budget for February.

A high-ranking official in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) issued the letter less than 24 hours after the ongoing budget battles between the city council and Mayor Jeffery Jones’ administration reached news levels of ferocity. Council members are asserting that the administration illegally issued payroll checks last week, while the mayor has said the council is acting like a “lynch mob.”

“The direct consequence of the City Council’s failure to act will likely be that the City Administration will have to begin shutting down government services,’’ said Thomas Neff, the director of the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services in a letter sent to council members and the mayor on Wednesday.

Sign Up for E-News

 

Jones said he saw Neff’s letter as vindication of the way the administration has handled the situation. He asserted that the letter found the council at fault. “They’re not being judicial and fair, they’re being obstructionists,’’ the mayor said of the council. [Editor's Note: This story was updated to include input from Jones.]

Neff's letter outlined what one city official called "doomsday" scenarios for Paterson. “Further, the City Administration will have to notify public employees, pursuant to legally required notification requirements, of their final days of employment and notify vendors their services are no longer statutorily funded,’’ Neff continued.

“The disruption and pain associated with City Council shutting down its own government services is unwise – especially since the Division’s announcement of an aid award is just one week away and a permanent budget can be adopted immediately thereafter,’’ Neff added. “Consequently, it is advised that the City Council should adopt a temporary budget and avoid the chaos and disruption that deliberate inaction would otherwise create.’’

Neff said in his letter that the DCA would notify Paterson and other cities on February 27 how much money in Transition Aid they will get for 2013.

The Jones administration has said that it cannot complete its 2013 budget without knowing how much in aid it will received. But council members have argued that the city could craft a budget based on the state’s previous preliminary estimate of $20 million in aid for Paterson.

In an effort to signal its displeasure with the lack of a final budget, the council last week rejected the city’s temporary budget for February, thus withholding its authorization for the city to pay any bills this month.

But municipal administration officials conferred with the DCA late last week and decided to go ahead and issue last week’s paychecks for city employees. In his letter, Neff said federal and state laws requiring employees to be paid for time worked trumped the council refusal to enact a temporary budget.

Councilman Kenneth Morris, who has been among the council’s leaders in the demand for a final budget, said on Wednesday afternoon that the council never said the paychecks should not have been issued, only that the administration should have notified the council that it was taking the extraordinary step of writing the checks without authorization. Morris said the administration should “not have acted unilaterally.’’

Morris also said he was not swayed by Neff’s letter. “I’m not going to approve an irresponsible temporary budget,’’ said the chairman of the council’s finance committee.

Morris also said the DCA bore some of the responsibility for Paterson’s budget bind because the state has waited until nearly two-thirds of the fiscal year has passed without notifying the city of its Transition Aid award.

When asked abot Morris' critcism, DCA spokeswoman Lisa Ryan rersponded: "Councilman Morris’ contention that the State not announcing a Transitional Aid award until February is responsible for the City Council shutting down their government lacks any credibility.  The City hasn’t adopted a budget before April or May even when aid awards were announced as early as October." 

City Council President Anthony Davis called the ongoing budget battle sad. "Enough is enough,'' said Davis. "I'm not with this side or that side. Unfortunately, we all take the blame - the state, the council and the administration.''

"At the end of the day, who suffers?'' Davis asked. "No one but the residents of the city.''

 

Councilman William McKoy said he wondered whether Jones would have taken a different view of the spending authorization question if he were still a city councilman. When told of McKoy’s comment, Jones responded, “When I was on the council, I never did anything that stupid.’’

Jones also said he hoped the budget battles would not impact the state’s decision on how much aid to give Paterson. “I believe we’ve done what we’re supposed to do,’’ the mayor said of his staff’s efforts to curtail spending. “We’ve operated in line with everything that anybody can imagine.’’

The preliminary budget currently includes an anticipated $20 million in Transition Aid. Paterson asked the DCA for $28.5 million, which would be enough to close the city’s current $8.5 million deficit.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Paterson

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_3f27a97645e7103f9868_flyer__courthouse_plaza_programs_2018-page-001

Tue, July 24, 11:00 AM

Paterson Courthouse Plaza, Paterson

Tuesdays in the Plaza

Carousel_image_efec3d39ddc6008dd11e_4a256201-8c0a-450c-b62e-8a761d6f5b83

Thu, July 26, 6:00 PM

Vreeland Ave. Park, Paterson

Occupy Vreeland Ave. Park

Arts & Entertainment Community Calendar

Carousel_image_3f27a97645e7103f9868_flyer__courthouse_plaza_programs_2018-page-001

Tue, July 31, 11:00 AM

Paterson Courthouse Plaza, Paterson

Tuesdays in the Plaza

Readers Says Let Developer Bring Paterson Back

July 13, 2018

Dear Editor: 

It is no secret that Paterson is in dire need of revitalizing, restructuring, rebuilding, and, quite frankly, rebranding. As a city, we have struggled to pay our municipal debt, to reduce crime substantially, to create sustainable employment opportunities for our youth and to provide assistance for our city’s most vulnerable residents. 

Today, we face an uphill ...

Murphy Administration Takes Action to Help Smokers Quit

July 19, 2018

Eliminates Prior Approval for Medicaid Tobacco Cessation Medications; Counseling Options to be Expanded

July 16, 2018

(TRENTON) – The Murphy administration on Monday announced new steps to help New Jersey Medicaid recipients quit using tobacco by making it easier to receive tobacco cessation medications and counseling.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death ...

Pascrell, Renacci, Senators Celebrate House Approval of Congressional Gold Medal to Baseball Pioneer Larry Doby

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Jim Renacci (R-OH-16) hailed the passage in the House of Representatives of H.R. 1861, the Larry Doby Congressional Gold Medal Act. The legislation awards the Congressional Gold Medal to the late baseball star, Larry Doby, who broke the American League’s color barrier in 1947.

“A proud ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 12, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters here.

It’s one of two ordinances that were approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Big Plans for Small Park in Newark’s North Ward

NEWARK, NJ- An under-utilized pocket park on Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark’s North Ward has become a symbol of what can be accomplished in neighborhoods throughout the city through effective public-private partnerships. 

The park’s supporters have big plans for the public space, located directly across the street from the busy North Ward Center, located in an historic ...

I'm Sorry Mr. Jackson... I Am For Real

July 8, 2018

Hello again, Paterson. 

So much has changed since the last time I’ve written… as I’d hoped, Andre Sayegh is our new mayor and it seems an exciting new dawn is upon us. I think when any change comes, especially one as major as this, there is an opportunity for reflection as well as for hope. This election taught me quite a bit, seeing some of the best and worst sides of ...

RU Ready for Rutgers Football? Tickets on Sale

July 18, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - There's a lot of promotions planned this fall as part of the Rutgers football season.

Single game tickets go on sale Thursday, July 12, with seven home games. There's matchups against Big Ten East opponents Michigan and Penn State, and a first-time cross divisional meeting with Northwestern.

If football is not your thing, there's plenty ...

Westfield to Hold 3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ Celebrating Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

Belmar Parasail: Soar Into Summer with a High-Flying Adventure Along the Beachfront

BELMAR, NJ — As Belmar finally basks in picture-perfect weather, it may be time to check off a summer activity on your bucket list. And for many, parasailing is one of those “must-do” experiences.

At Belmar Parasail, the season is in full swing, offering boat trips from the Belmar Manutti Marina to the beachfront where passengers are lifted 500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean ...