JERSEY CITY – New City Council President Rolando Lavarro Jr. has scheduled a special City Council meeting for Wednesday, July 10 at 6 p.m. to discuss the city’s 2013 municipal budget.
The 2013 calendar year is half over and Jersey City has yet to pass a municipal budget for the year. Former Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy presented a $486 million 2013 city budget to the council in February, and the governing body held a public hearing on the spending plan, but never adopted it.
Since then, Healy and seven of nine City Council members have left office.
Newly-elected Mayor Steven Fulop was inaugurated on Monday. The new members of the City Council were also sworn in on Monday. Lavarro and Ward F City Councilwoman Diane Coleman are the only current members of the City Council who were part of the council in February when the 2013 budget was originally introduced.
Since then, city Budget Director Robert Kakoleski has said there may be an estimated $16 million budget gap this year. That $16 million shortfall is in addition to $5 million the Fulop administration will have to find to cover terminal leave benefits owed to approximately 27 senior Jersey City Police Department personnel who have either already retired, or who plan to retire by the end of the year.
The young Fulop administration will have to cover this $21 million total shortfall through either budget cuts, a tax increase, increasing revenue from other sources, or through a combination of these three strategies.
During the spring municipal election, most of the candidates who ran for the City Council said adopting a 2013 spending plan would be their top priority, if elected.
The City Council members who took office this week include Frank Gajewski (Ward A), Khemraj “Chico” Ramchal (Ward B), Richard Boggiano (Ward C), Michael Yun (Ward D), Candice Osborne (Ward E), Diane Coleman (Ward F), Joyce Watterman (at-large), Daniel Rivera (at-large), and Lavarro (at-large).
At a reorganization meeting held on Monday the council members unanimously elected Lavarro as the new council president. – E. Assata Wright