Jersey City Council introduces $588M municipal budget
Without fanfare, the Jersey City Council accepted a $588 million municipal budget from Mayor Steven Fulop at the March 14 meeting.
For the fifth year in a row, the Fulop administration introduced a budget with no municipal tax rate increase. “Jersey City is one of the few municipalities that has seen stable taxes every single year while increasing and enhancing city services the way that we have,” said Fulop. “Our city serves as proof that cities can be both fiscally responsible and socially progressive. This balance has been one of our major priorities, and as we start a second term, I promise to continue to move our city forward while focusing on long-term budgeting and management.”
In addition to cutting costs and keeping taxes stable, the 2018 budget will include the continued hiring within the police and fire departments, the creation of the new Office of Sustainability, 24/7 parking enforcement, and the hiring of 1,000 Jersey City students in summer jobs and internships, a program that has previously been funded through outside sources. Additionally, the budget includes funding for an aggressive capital improvement plan, which will allow for continued enhancement of parks and upgrades to city infrastructure, such as road improvements. Part of the reason for the stability of taxes is that more people are paying, and they are paying on land valued at more. Property tax ratables have increased by approximately $95 million since last year’s budget, municipal court fines are up $2 million, and PILOT revenue increased by $3 million. The new budget comes at a time when the results of the city revaluation have come in.
The introduction is the first step in a lengthy process that will lead eventually to the adoption of a modified budget later this year. City Council will hold department hearings and will review areas for possible additional cuts, although several council members said the introduced budget is fairly lean.
The city budget covers about 50 percent of the overall taxes that residents pay. The county budget and school budget account for about 25 percent each. Both of these budgets are expected to be introduced within the next few weeks.
Drive charged in fatal JC crash
Alex Torres, 31, of Union City, surrendered to members of the Hudson County Regional Fatal Collision Unit on March 20, and has been charged with two counts of death by auto, two counts of causing death or injury while driving on a suspended license, and three counts of assault by auto, for his involvement in a Feb. 11 crash in Jersey City that killed two Union City residents.
He was scheduled for a court hearing on March 22.
On Feb. 11 at approximately 3:20 a.m., the Jersey City Police Department responded to a report of a vehicle collision in the area of 608 Tonnelle Ave. in Jersey City between Manhattan Avenue and North Street. Responding Jersey City police officers found an overturned white 2006 Honda Accord in the northbound lanes of the roadway and a second vehicle, a red 2006 Toyota Corolla, located nearby on the sidewalk of the northbound lanes.
The initial investigation showed that there were two fatalities who were passengers in the red vehicle. The first victim was a male, later identified as Mario Guevara, 25, of Union City. The second victim was a female, later identified as Heather Acosta, 24, of Union City. The two victims were pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 4:10 a.m.
In addition, there was a driver and passenger in the red vehicle and also a driver and additional passenger in the white vehicle. All were transported to Jersey City Medical Center by Emergency Medical Services for treatment of their non-life-threatening injuries.
Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez credited the newly formed Hudson County Regional Fatal Collision Unit with the investigation and arrest, as well as the Jersey City Police Department for assisting in the investigation.
Kennedy Dancers host goddess night
The Kennedy Dancers Inc. a non-profit professional dance company, dance school, and educational cable television productions will present Goddess Night, An Evening of Belli Dance and Female Wisdom, will be held at the Kennedy Dancers Repertory Center located at 79 Central Ave. (on the corner of Beacon and Central) in Jersey City on Saturday, April 28 at 7 p.m.
This is a presentation of mystical dances of cultural, folk, tribal fusion and Arabic styles dubbed by Americans as belly dancing promises to enchant and entrance.
“These dances will transport you back to a time when belly dancing was designed for women and had meaningful purposes such as rituals, rights of passages, and varying important life events. The evening of dance will be performed by Kennedy Dancers Inner City Youth Junior Dance Company with choreography by Diane Dragone,” according to their release.
The Inner City Youth Junior Dance Company have been working hard to rehearse several choreographies including The Sword Dance, The Cane Dance, Al Bindi Al Arabia, Ana Wal Leil, and many more, all which are choreographed by Diane Dragone, Artistic Director of the Kennedy Dancers. These choreographies range from cultural standards to tribal hip hop.
Tickets for the event are $20 per person advance sales. All proceeds from this fundraiser will be used to help defray the cost of our Inner City Junior Dance Company. For more info, please call (201)-659-2190 or email us at email@example.com
Fulop orders temporary halt to demolition of old homes
Alarmed by a map of demolitions the City Council was to review and vote on last month, Mayor Steven Fulop issued an executive order halting demolition permits for period of six months. This is a moratorium on demolition permits on homes with one to four residential units. It orders the Division of City Planning to conduct a review of the municipal code that controls demolition permits.
During the past several years, due to an increase in development throughout the city, the city has seen many older homes demolished for multi-family box style homes. But some say the old homes are important to the neighborhood’s character.
Now there is a six-month freeze on the city’s accepting new applications for demolition permits for structurally sound one to four- family buildings.
During this period of time, the city will also conduct a comprehensive review of the Municipal Code that governs this process in order to determine if it can be amended to better protect the city’s culturally, historically and/or architecturally significant structures.
City to launch Green Business Certificate Program
Mayor Steven M. Fulop announced that along with the Jersey City Office of Sustainability, Jersey City Small Business Services, and the Jersey City Environmental Commission, the launch of a Green Business Certification Program.
As part of the Green Business Certification program, the City will offer several business development seminars and classes to help local small businesses implement sustainable practices in areas such as energy, waste, and water use. The first of these events will be held on March 28th at 10am in Chambers at City Hall. Representatives from the NJ Clean Energy Program will be at the event to discuss how small businesses can receive tax-free funding for these energy efficiency improvements. Representatives from the NJ Sustainability Business Registry will be on-site to register qualified businesses for free sustainability consulting.
Currently, businesses participating in the Green Business Certification Program can be awarded at “Leaf” tier, which will be supplemented in the future with higher certification levels. The City will award marketing materials and public recognition to Certified Green Businesses to highlight these business’ practices, help consumers make informed choices, and help sustainable businesses attract environmentally conscious customers.
“Businesses are a key part of the Jersey City community, and engaging with local business is integral to the City’s sustainability program,” said Mayor Fulop “The Green Business Certification program and sustainable business classes will help local businesses save money, reduce their environmental impact, and help make Jersey City a leader in urban sustainability.”
The City’s new Office of Sustainability will help lead and develop the program, including the development of new tiers, exploring incentives for certification, developing marketing and business education materials, and conducting outreach to the business community. Jersey City Small Business Services will assist with promoting and growing the program. The Jersey City Environmental Commission (JCEC) will be the approving body for all Green Business Certification applications.
The Office of Sustainability will take responsibility for overseeing the City’s sustainability policy. This includes carrying out Jersey City’s “2018: Year of Energy” campaign, which includes programs aimed at reducing the City’s carbon footprint and energy use. The Office of Sustainability will also be continuing the “2017: Year of Water” initiatives that were previously led by the Office of Innovation, such as the implementation of green infrastructure projects and updating the City’s stormwater regulations.
Jersey City Small Business Services provides guidance, training, and marketing services to entrepreneurs and small businesses from business formation to build out. Find out more about Small Business Services here: www.jcsmallbiz.com.
Low-cost spay and neuter program available
Recognizing the need in Jersey City for affordable spay and neuter services, local small business owners Jaclyn Fulop and Drew Nussbaum of Exchange Physical Therapy Group in Jersey City and Weehawken have teamed up with the non-profit Liberty Humane Society to establish the first low-cost spay and neuter program in Jersey City.
This will be held on Wednesday, April 11 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Corgi Spirits, 1 Distillery Drive in Jersey City. The cost is $25 per person with sponsorship opportunities available starting at $500.
“When we learned about this situation and that a solution was within reach, we immediately knew we had to help,” said Jaclyn Fulop, co-owner of Exchange Physical Therapy Group. “We have seen the benefits owning an animal can have, through our therapy dog Chloe, and want to make sure all of Jersey City’s dogs and cats have an opportunity at a good life. That’s what this program will provide.”
To help Liberty Humane Society reach its fundraising goal, Exchange Physical Therapy Group is hosting a fundraiser next week. The initial goal is to raise enough funds for the first year of the program, approximately $25,000, but to also create an ongoing donor base for subsequent years. The public is invited to attend and tickets can be purchased for $25 online at: www.exchangephysicaltherapygroup.com.
“We are thrilled to have the support of Exchange Physical Therapy Group and Jaclyn Fulop for this new, life-saving spay/neuter program,” said Irene Borngraeber, Executive Director of Liberty Humane Society. “The lack of affordable spay/neuter surgery in Hudson County has contributed to thousands of accidental litters and unwanted pets entering our shelter system. Making this life-saving procedure both affordable and accessible to pet owners in need is a momentous step towards creating a safer, more humane reality for Jersey City’s pets.”
For the first year of the program, Liberty Humane Society would be partnering with People For Animals (PFA) in Hillside to bring their mobile spay/neuter RV to the shelter in Jersey City to provide these public services, approximately twice per month (depending on public demand and PFA availability). Due to capacity and resources, the program is designed initially for large dogs (40+ pounds) and outdoor cats in colonies of 10 or fewer whose owners/caretakers reside in the contracted service areas of Jersey City and Hoboken. Eligible pet owners would pay $10 to spay or neuter their dog or cat.