Friday, June 3, 2011

Beth Mason's Latest Political Machinations and Budget Politrickery

Now we see what Beth Mason was really up when she cut the budget surplus to zero. Municipal Finance experts recommend a surplus of anywhere from 5% to 10%. Initially Mayor Dawn Zimmer wanted 10% but presented a budget that had the surplus at 5% as a compromise and was at the lower limits of the recommended range. Just this Wednesday Beth Mason and her City "Council of No" allies passed a zero surplus budget and she is now claiming victory at the expense of fiscal sanity.

Dear Friend,

We did it! On Wednesday the City Council voted to pass a budget on first reading that will use Hoboken’s Budget Surplus to provide substantial property tax relief. This Amendment is scheduled for a final reading at the June 15th City Council meeting.

The City Council also voted on a series of measures to reduce patronage expenditures in City Hall and bring them closer in line with comparable sized New Jersey cities:

· Reduced a $200,000 no bid legal contact for a politically connected law firm allied with Mayor Zimmer and her supporters on City Council by almost 40%.

· Reduced the salary of the Business Administrator from $150,000 to $100,000. Our Business Administrator is also collecting a public pension. Prior to this salary reduction he was making more money that the Governor of New Jersey.

· Reduced Mayor Zimmer’s salary from $116,000 to $100,000. Even after this salary reduction Mayor Zimmer is still the third highest paid elected official in Hudson County, second to the Hudson County Executive and the Mayor of Jersey City, the second highest populated City in the State.

· Reduced the six figure salaries of City Directors by 10%. Our Director’s salaries are now more in line with the salaries of Directors from comparable sized municipalities such as Union City, North Bergen, and Bayonne.

· Called for a review of email communications between Mayor Zimmer’s public relations aides to determine if political work is being paid for with taxpayers’ money. Under our Sunshine Laws, emails sent and received on City computers are public property available for inspection by Hoboken residents. This is the very essence of open government and transparency.

As a result the 2011 Budget will cut municipal taxes 20%. Combined with the tax cut we achieved in the transition year budget that was passed in October 2010 we will cut municipal taxes 25%. These results are the product of the Hoboken City Council and our community working together to do what is best for our City. I am honored to serve as City Council President and help bring about this much needed tax relief.

Thank you for your time and continued efforts to stand up for good government and the rights of everyday people. I look forward to seeing you soon.

- Beth Mason

My Comment: Folks, she's running for Mayor in 2013 and she just got re-elected to City Council. See what raw ambition taken to excess can do to a person. We can all debate about the proper level of a surplus but to have none is the height of fiscal irresponsibility. Additionally her recklessness could jeopardize the payments and jobs of fire and safety next year or necessitate a substantial tax increase next year. This is just foolishness and putting her own political ambitions above the best interests of the City of Hoboken.

Real world example: If you own a Condo and are trying to get a loan today, mortgage lenders require at least a 10% surplus or reserve for the condo board to even consider approving the loan. The same principle applies to municipal finance although the rules are more complex. ◦