Hoboken still unsure how much they owe Suez Water in liability

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In the last council meeting prior to the November 7th municipal elections, a Hoboken official revealed that the city is still unsure how much they owe Suez Water in liability.

The ordinance in question seemed simple enough: authorizing a $750,000 bond for the acquisition of public safety communications equipment.

However, this prompted 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher to ask if the city had to “make any different types of disclosure to the remaining Suez obligation.”

“There are no additional disclosures for any bonding at this time. Both recommended that when we actually go out to market, that we issue an official statement. We still haven’t received a [bill] in terms of the bulk water costs and capital expenditures related to the Suez contract,” responded Business Administrator Stephen Marks.

Marks was relaying information he gathered after speaking with City Auditor Steven Wielkotz and City Bond Counsel Jeff Winitksy.

“We have not been sent a bill, an itemized bill, any bill, on bulk water or an itemized bill on capital expenditures.”

In an ongoing dialogue with Marks, Fisher wanted to know how Suez could issue a bill without making “a quantifying estimate.”

“If we are sent a bill by Suez for those two items, we’ll have an opportunity to challenge it or at least, at the very least, review it. The numbers that have been discussed previously … they are approximations, they are estimates,” Marks added.

City officials have previously said they owe between $8.3 million and $10 million in liability to Suez, one of several reasons why Mayor Dawn Zimmer urged the council to pass a new deal in September.

However, that never came to pass, as the council never voted on the measure after a heated exchange with Zimmer.

Responding to a question from Council President Jen Giattino, Marks said it was acceptable for the liability not to have a dollar amount, an answer that didn’t sit well with Fisher.

“We publicized somewhere between $8.3 million and $10 million all over the city, that we think that’s the number, but when we actually disclose it to a bond offering, people that are going to buy bonds from us – we actually then don’t have to put a number in there?,” Fisher asked.

“That’s an approximation that Suez provided but it’s never been verified,” Marks responded.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco joined the discussion as well, questioning how the city had not asked how much Suez is owed.

“Shouldn’t we be using substantial city resources to make sure we understand exactly how much debt we continue to go into with Suez? Before we get into these other projects?,” questioned DeFusco.

“Councilman, we can’t compel Suez to send us a bill, we asked,” said Marks, a response DeFusco called “surprising.”

Both DeFusco and Giattino have previously called for investigations into the city’s liability with Suez, while Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla has recused himself from the matter to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.

The measure passed by a vote of 7-1, with DeFusco voting no. 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos was absent and the council did not subsequently vote on anything pertaining to the Suez contract.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Since Ms Fisher is so expert at math it’s a wonder she doesn’t seem able to demonstrate it from the council dais.

    A quick review of the documents up on the city’s website makes it clear that the total owed by the city if they fail to approve the renegotiated deal is estimated to be $7 million on July 1 of next year. Since the obligations started to accrue July 1, 2014 that means the estimate is about $ 1.75 million per year. Since there are 8 months to go until the July 1 2018 date the $7 million estimate is based on, a current estimate to date would be about $5.8 million.

    Perhaps Roman Brice with his superb high school math skills can review the public documents and neigh in on whether he agrees with my math.

    Perhaps he’ll also explain why Ms. Fisher seems unable to do this calculation, which took me about 20 seconds without a calculator.

    If the contract is not renegotiated the total cost to the taxpayer based on this simple mathematical calculation over 10 years will be almost $18 million. Will Ms. Fisher write the Hoboken taxpayers a check for $18 million if thanks to her we get stuck with that bill?

    • Another Man taking another cheap shot at the female led Giatinno team
      Ravi’s campaign team of Stan, Ravi, Amar, Rob, Danny and Vijay sure know how to assault and degrade successful women- if it’s not knocking Jen’s education, they are whacking Tiffany and Sal’s wife.

      Maybe Bhalla and his out of town supporters don’t realize Hoboken is not a 3rd world culture and women can rise to be executives, make decisions on their own and even get married to the man or woman of their choice here

      • They’re gone. You don’t think they will want to deal with the mess Dawn made at Observer do you?

        After Ravi loses, they’re outta here.

  2. Funny, Ravi has a team run by all men – attacking the careers and educations of women.
    At least Jen and Tiffany are self made and didn’t have to marry a nasty older guy who couldn’t hack it as a lawyer and needed a easy job working for Daddy’s business

    Ravi’s teams is so sexist but then again… we know how some groups view women in the workplace

  3. So “LindaLou” are you just another typical male who assumes all women are “Bad at Math”?
    Maybe you should buy your daughter the talking Barbie that says ” Math is Hard”

    Not everyone is a math nerd and thank god, some people send their kids to HOBOKEN Schools and want them to be well rounded and not snotty elitists who think every woman should be home cooking for a husband their parents introduce them to.

  4. You see- I am The Shadow and I am an expert in any subject that I chose to opine on. The Suez Liabilities (probably by now at least $10 million dollars though no one in the inept Lame Duck Dawn Administration seems to know) are contingent liabilities and thus the Mayor can choose to hide them from public in perpetuity without even reporting them on official bond documents or as a footnote in the annual budget. They are different from regular contingent liabilities in that they are “Double Dutch Secret”, a status that made myself because I am a master malfeasant Machiavellian manipulator and I make it up as a go along. I am simply a radiant cut above everyone else. Bask in my brilliance.

    #DawnoftheDebt
    #SilenceoftheSuez
    #RecusingRavi
    #DelayedDebtDawn

  5. Folks- Since 2014 the contract with Suez was set up so that excess emergency repairs would be owed by the City of Hoboken to Suez. It is near the end of 2017 and we still do not know what the exact total is? Give me a break. This is no way to be transparent, no way to run and Administration and not fair ultimately to the Hoboken ratepayer or taxpayer.

    We need accountability from our local government again. Join the #HobokenResistance!

    There is a new website in town: http://hobokenresistance.com. We will keep the focus on Hoboken and our elected officials to ensure we get positive results moving forward.

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