PATERSON, NJ - A proposal by 6th Ward Councilman Al Abdelaziz to grant property tax and sewer rate payers a 60-day grace period while they grapple with the economic impact of COVID-19 was met with resistance at the body's recent emergency meeting, and doesn't appear on the draft agenda for Tuesday's regular meeting.
"Not only does COVID-19 pose a grave public health risk, but it also poses an extreme economic burden on governments and residents alike," Abdelaziz said in a statement he shared with TAPinto Paterson. Citing predictions of huge job losses as a result of the business standstill, an increase in unemployment applications, and the continued stockpiling of household items such as toilet paper, Abdelaziz added that "we need to act instead of waiting."
Balking at the idea was Business Administrator Kathleen Long who said that due to the city's budget structure, whereby the fiscal year ends on June 30, the potential loss of revenue poses a greater risk locally than it would in a municipality whose budget year matches the calendar year. "We have to figure out how to make ends meet,"she said, adding that the grace period could also adversely impact a scheduled lien sale that officials expect to generate $7 million.
The Sayegh Administration is looking at all options to help deal with the situation that Long articulated is changing "hour by hour,” including working with state monitors from the Department of Community Affairs to determine if being granted additional Transitional Aid to "fill the gap,” might be a possibility.
3rd Ward Councilman Bill McKoy also cautioned about making such a decision without it being fully vetted. "We are not a social service agency," he said. "We are a city in distress."
"This is a complicated issue," the dean of the legislative branch of the city government said. "We'd all like to grant a reprieve, but we have to give the Administration time to consider that, it's not as easy as throwing out a resolution that sounds good."
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