The results of an audit of the Bayonne Board of Education conducted by the NJ State Legislature Office of the State Auditor were released Tuesday, Nov. 14, according to Interim Superintendent Dr. Michael A. Wanko. The audit was requested by Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti after the school district turned up a deficit of more than $2 million in November of 2016 that resulted in programmatic cuts and hundreds of layoffs.
The Executive Summary of the audit received on Tuesday reads, “We found the primary factors that contributed to the fiscal year 2016 year-end General Fund budgetary deficit were the unreported designation of $4.7 million in reserve for excess surplus at fiscal year-end 2015 and the inappropriate encumbering of at least $1.8 million and $4.2 million for payment of subsequent year expenditures at the end of fiscal years 2015 and 2016, respectively. If the reserve was properly identified and these funds were not encumbered, the district would not have reported the General Fund unassigned budgetary deficit of $2,003,625, but rather a budgetary surplus of $3.0 million. The district also under-budgeted $5.7 million in non-salary accounts which were funded by transfers from adequately budgeted salary accounts.”
The BBOED Finance Committee was expected to review the results at a 5 p.m. meeting on Tuesday. Afterward, the BBOED will post the report on its website, bboed.org.
“We want to make things better here,” said Dr. Wanko. “The public has been waiting a long time for this, so we want to put it on the website as soon as we can.”
Dr. Wanko requested that the Office of the State Auditor send an expert from the audit team to help explain the results to the public at the board’s next public workshop meeting this Thursday, November 16 at 6 p.m. at 669 Avenue A. If someone from the audit team is unavailable this week, Dr. Wanko said that he’d like that person to be available at the BBOED regular meeting on Thursday, November 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Stay updated on the audit results at hudsonreporter.com.
Mayor Davis creates board to create new SID on the MOTBY
Mayor James Davis issued an executive order to establish an advisory boardfor a Special Improvement District (SID) on the former Military Ocean Terminal Base (MOTBY), which was retroactively created as of November 1. The Bayonne City Council approved the officers’ report. The advisory board will include Business Administrator Joe DeMarco and Chief Financial Officer Terrence Malloy, as well as development stakeholders, Vice President of Boraie Development William Boraie, Mahalaxmi Bayonne LLC Manager Raj Gupta, and Tantum Group Founder Deborah Tantleff.
A SID is an area authorized by state law (the Pedestrian Mall and Special Improvement District Act) and created by an ordinance of the local government to collect a special assessment on the commercial properties and/or businesses in that area. That assessment will be performed by the city’s District Management Corporation (DMC), the Bayonne UEZ/SID, which is a separate nonprofit organization.
The improvement district provides a mechanism for the businesses of a community to organize as a single entity, to raise funds for activities that supplement municipal services, and to manage themselves to become a more effective shopping/dining/commercial destination. The Improvement District itself is effectively a boundary of affected properties and businesses, and is defined by municipal ordinance.
The DMC, which is governed by a board of business and property owners, sets the agenda, priorities, and initiatives of the organization, hires and supervises staff, and determines the annual budget and assessment amount.
At the council meeting, Bayonne resident Melanie Flora wanted details about what the SID board will do and what the overall plan is.
“So that’s a special improvement district where the residents or owners in that district pay extra into a fund that they can manage to maintain their public walkways, the parks, to possibly subsidize the ferry,” said DeMarco at a November 8 City Council meeting. “They will create the organization and then create the bylaws, the backbone of the organization. How many members it will have, what the formula would be in terms of contribution, whether it’s on square foot commercial space, whether it’s on a residential corridor, whether it’s based on assessed value. Then, they will set how that money will be spent.”
In December, Jersey City approved a new SID at Exchange Place, led in large part by DeMarco’s brother, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation President Michael DeMarco.
Philanthropist donates to Hudson Chamber and its nonprofit base
The Hudson County Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) has announced the receipt of a $100,000 gift by philanthropist and former Congressman Frank J. Guarini, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the chamber’s rebranding effort. It comes on the eve of Legends 10, the annual event at Liberty Science Center honoring outstanding members of Hudson County’s business community. The unprecedented donation was followed by additional gifts to 39 nonprofit organizations who are members of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce.
“It is most important that our business community supports the good work of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce and harnesses the energy and dedication of our nonprofit community. Our future depends on working together with a common purpose. Together, through the chamber, we can assure a successful and prosperous tomorrow,” Guarini stated.
The 129-year-old Hudson County Chamber of Commerce currently has a diversified membership of more than 600 businesses throughout the County. It supports 50 programs annually and is ranked in the top 25 Chambers in the State of New Jersey by NJBiz.
Maria Nieves, president and CEO of the HCCC, recognized Congressman Guarini as a treasured leader, resource, and contributor to the energy and growth of business in Hudson County and the state:
“Frank Guarini’s timely support provides critical and immediate funding to a diverse and growing community of nonprofit organizations in Jersey City which contribute greatly to elevating the city’s quality of life for all.”
Bayonne Bridge featured in the New Yorker
New Yorker staff writer, and New Jersey resident, Ian Frazier wrote a feature in the magazine’s November 13 issue titled “Clear Passage: Making space for megaships by saving majestic bridge.” Frazier tells the story of the bridge’s construction and of the CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, which was the largest ship to pass under the bridge, in September.
Bald eagle sighting
Bald eagles are a rare sight in Bayonne, but a few residents caught a glimpse of one that landed around the area of 9th Street and Avenue A. While the sight of a bald eagle may seem unusual today, residents may remember a time when the species was even more rare. In 1973, when the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act was passed, there was just one nesting pair in the state, in a remote forest in Cumberland County, according to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife. Today, there are more than 150 nesting pairs of eagles in NJ. Most are in the Delaware Bay counties of Cumberland and Salem, but eagles can now be found statewide.
Bald eagles remain on the state endangered species list, however, due to their sensitivity to environmental contaminants, habitat loss and human disturbance. The challenge to biologists and citizens now is protecting the lands and waterways used by eagles to maintain and enhance this species' recovery.
According to the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 2016 Eagle Report, “The population of wintering bald eagles has grown along with the nesting population, especiallyin the last ten years. This growth reflects increasing populations in NJ and the northeast, as eachstate’s recovery efforts continue to pay off for eagles.”
According to a map of movements by bald eagles tagged with satellite tracking equipment, many eagles fly from the Delaware Bay to Northern Maine and southern Quebec, a route that passes over Bayonne.
Chiaravalloti appointed to HCCC Vice-President of Planning and Development
Hudson County Community College (HCCC) President Glen Gabert, Ph.D. announced this week that Joseph D. Sansone, the College’s Vice President for Planning and Development and Assistant to the President will retire effective February 28, 2018. The Board of Trustees has named Nicholas Chiaravalloti, J.D., Ed.D., to succeed Mr. Sansone. He will begin work at HCCC as Vice President for Planning and Development/Assistant to the President Designate effective December 1, 2017, and will assume full responsibility for that office on March 1, 2018.
Chiaravalloti also represents the 31st District, which makes up Bayonne and parts of Jersey City, in the State Assembly.
“Dr. Chiaravalloti brings extensive knowledge of higher education and valuable experience in working with the people of our community to his new position at Hudson County Community College. We look forward to working with him and Joe Sansone during the transition period and the future,” Dr. Gabert said.
A lifelong member of the Bayonne community who holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Catholic University of America, Dr. Chiaravalloti earned his law degree from Rutgers School of law, and Doctorate of Higher Education Leadership from Saint Peter’s University.
His professional academic experience includes serving for the past six years at Saint Peter’s University where he was Executive Director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership, Associate Vice President for International Outreach/Community Engagement, and a Father John Corridan Fellow.
Chiaravalloti’s legal experience includes founding the consulting firm ANJ, LLC, serving as a partner in the law firm of Weiner and Lesniak, LLP, founding and serving as partner of Magis Strategies and Chiaravalloti, LLC. Chiaravalloti has served at the local, state and federal levels of government – as Executive Director of the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority, and as State Director to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. Since 2016, he has served as Assemblyman representing the constituents of New Jersey’s 31st Legislative District.
“Dr. Chiaravalloti’s dedication to the people of Hudson County, his appreciation of higher education, and his own background and professional experience are assets that will contribute to his new work at Hudson County Community College,” said HCCC Board Chair William Netchert. “We look forward to welcoming him, and to working with him in continuing the College’s important mission of providing high quality educational opportunities for all the people of our community.”
Menendez jurors try again after deadlock
The jury in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez is resuming deliberations today after telling Judge William H. Walls on Monday that they’re deadlocked on all the charges.According to reports from Philly.com, the judge sent the jurors home at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, November 13, telling them to rest and reconvene on Tuesday. The jury had to start its deliberations from scratch on Monday after one juror was excused to go on vacation and an alternate was seated.