The Jersey City Council has introduced an ordinance to move about $170 million in bonds to the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency as they work on the ambitious Bayfront Project.
The ordinance states that the city and the agency have determined that in order to obtain the most advantageous interest rates, both parties would enter into a subsidy agreement. The vote was unanimous at last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, with only Councilwoman Denise Ridley absent that night.
The Bayfront is a massive development plan to transform a contaminated site near the Hackensack Riverfront to a 100-acre revitalization project with residential units, retail space, park land, and a school, with the first phase consisting of 1,092 units, and 35 percent dedicated as affordable and workforce housing.
The bonds for the project were first approved by the City Council in 2018.
Debt, taxes, and burden
A few residents who called into the meeting expressed concerns about the project and the finances behind it, saying that it would be a burden on residents and the taxpayers.
Yvonne Balcer called the project a scam, saying that moving the bonds over would make the taxpayers responsible, and that the city should have instead sold the land to fund the schools. “You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul to do this, and it’s a real problem,” she said. “You did what the mayor said, and now taxpayers are left holding the bag. It’s wrong.”
Jeanne Daly said that she had a problem with transfer of debt, putting forward that if they kept on bonding, the city would be bankrupting itself. “I don’t know what’s the point, because if we just keep taking on debt, keep on bonding, it’s just putting off the future,” she said. “The same thing happened with our schools.”
Esther Wintner questioned the motives behind getting an advantageous interest rate, and said that it would be the taxpayers’ burden “no matter where it is. You’re just changing the line item from one book to another,” she said.