Hoboken employees put on notice

On  May 7, up to 79 Hoboken city employees could lose their jobs. This comes as the city faces a multi-million dollar budget gap this year.

“This is to notify all employees that for reasons of economy, efficiency, or other related reason, it is possible you will be laid off or demoted from your permanent or probationary positions,” says the general notice of layoff to employees dated Feb. 28 from Hoboken’s Director of Operations Jason Freeman.

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According to a Jan. 15 letter to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the city could lay off 38 employees from the Department of Administration, four employees from the city clerk’s office, one employee from the Department of Community Development, 10 employees from the Department of Environmental Services, four employees from the Department of Finance, 11 employees from the Department of Health and Human Services, six employees from Public Safety, and five employees from the Parking and Transportation Department could be let go.

It is unclear how many of these employees will actually be let go.

“At the present time, it is not possible to determine the exact effect that this layoff action will have on each employee,” wrote Freeman.

The city faces an estimated $7.4 million budget shortfall due to anticipated increases in expenses. This does not include the potential impact of a reduction in the city’s surplus that is used each year to balance the municipal budget. With this included, the total budget gap is estimated at just under $13 million according to Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who is on the council’s finance subcommittee.

“Unfortunately, fixed costs, including rising health care, pension, and previously negotiated union contracts have created a number of challenges for the city for the upcoming budget,” said city spokesperson Vijay Chaudhury. “Layoffs are a worst-case scenario, and Mayor Bhalla and his administration continue to work around the clock to produce a budget with the City Council that reduces costs and keeps Hoboken fiscally sound for the long-term.”

According to Chaudhuri, Mayor Bhalla and the administration are still negotiating with the city’s six municipal labor unions to find cost savings which “could save the city substantial sums of money.”

On Wednesday, March 4 at 7 p.m., the council is scheduled to vote on a resolution that aims to freeze city spending according to the meeting agenda.

The resolution, sponsored by Fisher, requests that the mayor and the administration refrain from spending on any action, project, or event that would be considered “new” or not a recurring item until the 2020 budget is adopted by the city council.

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