Mayor Steven Fulop has announced a preliminary $620 million municipal budget, which he said will cut taxes for residents by an average of $967 a year despite the financial difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was made possible in part due to the American Rescue Plan, which injected $69 million in federal aid into the 2021 budget.
“Since day one of this pandemic, our commitment to helping our already overburdened residents has been the driving force behind our efforts to overcome the historic financial deficits and provide relief to taxpayers,” Fulop said. “This budget also commits more resources to expand recreational programs for our youth, affordable housing, mental health and public health services, infrastructure improvements, among other critical services our residents rely on.”
According to the city, the tax reduction will help offset increased costs to residents such as the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority solid waste services, which increased by an average of $25 a month per household this year.
The 2021 budget includes $69 million in federal aid through the American Rescue Plan, which will fund continued testing and vaccine operations, relieve lost revenues, and other public health initiatives, according to the city.
Feds help recoup costs
The federal funding will allow the city to recoup costs incurred throughout the pandemic and provide revenue relief from some of the more severely impacted lost revenues, including lost hotel taxes, suspended parking fees and taxes, and the slowdown in construction permitting.
Of the $620 million proposed budget, nearly $5 million will be allocated to the Department of Recreation and Youth Development to help ensure recreational programs are fully reinstated with all safety protocols in place.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget will increase to $7.5 million to support the historic increases in demand for public and mental health services outside of vaccinations and testing.
The budget includes $4.9 million toward capital improvement projects, including Pathside Building Renovations, St. Lucy’s Homeless drop-in center, Skyway Park, New Police District Buildings, Washington Ave. Creative Center, and citywide engineering projects such as traffic signals, speed humps, and bike lanes.
This capital improvement money will include funding for a new Jersey City Police Department De-escalation Training Facility, according to the city.
The new facility will provide officers “with the necessary training to maintain public safety, keeping the community safe while also ensuring police officers are able to maintain their own safety when responding to calls for service,” states the city’s press release.
“For other municipalities, a budget that expands city resources, addresses devastating budget gaps, and still reduces taxes for residents by double-digits is unheard of,” said City Council President Joyce Watterman. “For Jersey City, it’s the latest example of how the mayor and administration remain at the forefront of the issues that affect our community the most.”
The Jersey City Council is scheduled to vote on the introduction of the preliminary 2021 municipal budget at the next council meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on June 16.