The City Council has introduced its $118.2 million municipal budget and scheduled budget workshops to discuss each department’s appropriations.
At a special meeting of the council on Wednesday, March 27, the vote was unanimous except for the council members, Michael DeFusco and James Doyle, who were absent.
At the previous week’s council meeting, the governing body tabled the budget after infighting among the members.
The friction at the meeting that was held on March 20 erupted when the council introduced a repeal of recent parking meter rate hikes, which could mean the loss of approximately $900,000 of parking revenue for the city should the repeal ordinance pass on second reading. Many residents supported the repeal.
The proposed budget of $118.2 million is down from last year’s budget of $118.7 million. It will cover city spending from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2019, and include grants to items like the Pedestrian Safety Grant and other programs and a payment to the city’s public library of $5.8 million.
Roughly $112.2 million represents the city’s operating budget, a 1.1 percent increase over last year’s operating budget of $111.1 million.
The budget only pertains to the municipal portion of a property owner’s tax bill. The remaining taxes charged go to the county and schools, The county and school budgets will be adopted later this spring.
The city’s operating budget will increase from the previous year, and the loss of $900,000 in parking revenue means that the municipal tax rate will increase, as will the total tax levy to be collected from property owners.
According to Business Administrator Stephen Marks, the administration proposes a tax levy of $57.2 million, an increase of $1.9 million from the previous year’s $55.3 million.
If approved, the tax rate would increase from last year’s municipal tax rate of $0.0474 per $100 of assessed value to $0.0487 per $100 of assessed value this year.
This means a 2.7 percent increase in the tax rate. For the average Hoboken home, which is assessed at $522,600, municipal taxes from 2018 to 2019 will increase by about $75.
Marks noted that over the last eight years Hoboken has kept taxes relatively stable. He said that the municipal tax rate has increased by just 1.6 percent over the last eight years, and the municipal tax levy has increased by about 10.8 percent over the past eight years.
Why the increase?
According to Marks and Director of Finance Linda Landolfi, there are three areas of the budget that will increase the city’s spending this year compared to last year: the state-operated public employee pension plan, municipal employee salaries and wages, and operating expenses in the Department of Environmental Services.
According to Marks and Landolfi, the state increased the bill for employee pensions by approximately $1.3 million from last year. Salaries and wages have increased by approximately $1.4 million. The police and fire department salaries account for more than 70 percent of this increase.
As for the Department of Environmental Services, operating expenses have increased by $565,750 for trash and recycling carting costs
Department budget workshops
Budget workshops will be held on April 4 and April 11.
The workshops are open to the public and will focus on specific sections of the budget, such as the Police Department, City Clerk’s Office, and Health and Human Service.
On Thursday, April 4 at City Hall, 94 Washington St., the City Clerk’s Office will present its budget from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by the Department of Administration and Department of Finance from 7 to 8 p.m. and the Office of Corporation Counsel from 8 to 9 p.m.
The following Thursday, April 11 at City Hall, the police department will present its budget from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by the fire department from 7 to 8 p.m. and the Department of Environmental Services from 8 to 9 p.m.
According to state statutes, the final budget must be adopted by either April 30 or the following regularly scheduled meeting of the council.
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