HOBOKEN, NJ — After nine months of revisions, the Hoboken City Council on Wednesday evening voted 8-1 for a final budget including an increase in the tax levy, or the total amount to be funded by taxes. The $117.8 million budget can be found here.
The budget came amid coronavirus spending and reimbursements, as well as the controversial layoffs of more than two dozen city workers.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla had said at the beginning of the year that the city would have to make cuts because of increasing mandatory expenses.
Bhalla said this week, "I'm proud that this budget maintains city services and invests in our future, while delivering one of Hoboken’s lowest overall tax increases in the last decade, at only .75 percent or an average of $70 per household.”
He noted, "Thank you to the county of Hudson and the Hoboken City Council for working collaboratively with my administration to overcome the unprecedented challenges of a pandemic to pass the 2020 budget. ""
The increase would have been higher, but was offset by a smaller contribution to county taxes.
Council members criticized the mayor even as some voted to pass the spending plan at the late date.
"Instead of owning his historically high tax increase of 9.8 percent, like Mayor Zimmer always did, he instead created a misleading narrative that better suits him, taking credit for the much lower overall tax rate that was driven by declines in Hoboken’s share of county taxes over which he had no control.” said 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. “Thankfully my City Council colleagues were able to reduce his proposed increase by $1.3 million to 7.5 percent which is still way too high reflecting a rudderless year with Mayor Bhalla guided more by headlines than financial discipline. ... We should actually thank Jersey City as it was their significant increase in development that drove the 8.5 percent reduction in Hoboken’s share of the Hudson County tax levies."
First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco said, "Now is the time for the mayor to follow the council’s lead and reduce spending to prevent a hefty tax increase next year.”
The budget covers spending on city employees, benefits, trash collection, and other matters from Jan. 1, through this coming Dec. 31.
It's funded by taxes, government grants, and fees such as permit fees, fines, and certain tickets.
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