HOBOKEN--Judy Tripodi, Hoboken's state-appointed, council-approved fiscal monitor, said Wednesday that in Hoboken, taxes will be going down for residents this year. She wouldn't yet say how much they will drop.
The issue is significant in that political opponents of Hoboken Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer have charged that Zimmer is “hiding” the proposed budget until after election day, Nov. 3, so that people won’t realize that there is a tax increase. Tripodi says there is no increase.
But Tripodi did give life to another complaint from Zimmer’s opposition – that Zimmer, based on past campaign promises, should have released the rough draft of the budget by now.
Zimmer has been claiming that the release of the draft-form spending document would compromise ongoing labor negotiations between the city and its six unions (including police and fire unions).
But Wednesday, Tripodi said in an interview with the Reporter that releasing the budget would have no compromising effect on negotiations between the city and four of those six unions. The city has yet to engage in negotiations with the other two unions, she said.
The city is still doing some revenue analyses, so the document isn't ready to be formally introduced to the City Council, Tripodi acknowledged; four more weeks are needed. But in the meantime Tripodi doesn't see any problem with putting it out there.
She said the city has a plan for negotiations. She said that the accompanying costs "have been accounted for in the budget and can be changed” should negotiations change. "There's no hiding anything," Tripodi said. "We can't allow the budget to drag on waiting for negotiations."
Couldn't Tripodi herself just release the information as fiscal monitor?
"No. I can't release it to the council," she said. "It's the mayor’s budget."
Zimmer: Can't agree on negotiations
When presented with Tripodi's comments on Wednesday, Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer was taken aback. "Well, that's not what she said in the past,” Zimmer said.
In fact, Zimmer said she was advised by Tripodi and by the city’s attorneys not to release the budget. The budget - even in its draft form - must by law account entirely for whatever labor offer is on the table by the city, she said. So the document would potentially make the city's offer public.
Zimmer said that although she is not directly involved in the negotiations, she has been trying to impress her wishes about negotiations to Tripodi, who has not been receptive. "We are not in agreement on the union negotiations at all," Zimmer said, "I'm not comfortable with the numbers that are out there."
Zimmer said Tripodi has refused to brief the City Council on the status of the negotiations. "I asked her and asked her," Zimmer said.
Zimmer said many of the residents are feeling the economic crunch, and that municipal workers should share the burden.
"That has not been her position," Zimmer said. -- TJC