As budget woes continue, Hoboken narrowly votes to up business district parking fees

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Still in the midst of preparing for a multi-million dollar budget shortfall, the Hoboken City Council narrowly voted to increase parking fees for the second meeting in a row, this time uping meter rates in the business district from $1 an hour to $2 an hour.

“This is just a cash grab, real time availability means actually using technology to know where people want to park and relocating them to areas where there’s a greater propensity for parking availability,” said 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco.

” … This again is curiously timed to the administration’s cleanup program of trying to find money to plug a seven to $14 million dollar budget deficit.”

Earlier this month, the council voted to increase fees for parking violations, permits and towing fees, as HCV first reported, all by a tally of 5-4.

The first reading in regards to the business district meter fees, which has the backing of the local chamber of commerce, was also approved.

At that same meeting, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said she believes the budget deficit, initially pegged at over $7 million dollars, was actually closer to $14 million.

While she didn’t want to refer to these measures as “a cash grab,” she was candid in that revenue generating initiatives were a necessity at this point.

“I wouldn’t call it a cash grab, is it a revenue generating activity? Yes. Is it time driven now because we have sensitivities around the budget? Yes. As I said last week, we have a giant budget gap that we have to fill and we have to look for a lot of different ways to fill it – potentially jobs are at stake, we have taxes potentially getting increased,” she explained.

3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo, who like DeFusco voted against all parking fee increases last time, demanded to see statistical data that showed definitively that doubling the per hour meter fee in the business district was sound public policy.

“We talk in theoreticals, we talk in anecdotal information, but the reality is, the factual basis is, that increases in our residential permits to $52 a year will not decrease the number of cars – it will not decrease the number of permits in the City of Hoboken,” he emphasized.

” … We know that that policy position that has been pushed year over year over year is inaccurate, it does not exist.”

Transportation and Parking Director Ryan Sharp argued that if 100 employees parked in municipal lots during the course of the business day, that would leave 100 street spots available for at least eight hours ago.

Additionally, 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen thanked the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce for their support before explaining why this was the right move across the board.

” … If it’s more expensive, employees will use the lots instead of using the front door entrance on the front door entrance on Washington Street. That’s good for business and it’s good for the employees because they’re gonna be using our lots … it’s good policy, it’s a good idea, it makes sense.”

Ultimately, the measure passed 5-4, with DeFusco, Russo, 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos and Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco voting no.

Later in the meeting, Fisher said that revenues from payment in lieu of taxes agreements were project the budget hole to be about $12.8 million, a figure that no one on the dais disputed or agreed with explicitly.

Former Business Administrator Stephen Marks said in a December 17th letter to Mayor Ravi Bhalla that the shortfall is $7,420,795, though Fisher said this morning that figure did not consider the surplus balance to the budget.

“He said his memo was written before they were aware of the magnitude of the surplus revenue shortfall.  So the memo addressed just a piece of the budget gap – approximately 50% – not the entire budget gap,” she said.

Nevertheless, city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri reiterated the figure mentioned by Marks is still correct.

“The memo from Stephen Marks accurately depicted a budget shortfall of approximately $7.5 million due in large part to fixed costs, including rising healthcare, pension, and previously negotiated union contracts,” he responded.

12 COMMENTS

  1. The rift between between not too long ago political allies Fisher, Giantinno and DeFusco grows.
    Falco acknowledges who paid for her seat at the table.

    • They weren’t political allies, they agreed and disagreed on policy before without being jackasses. They differed on development and putting Patty on any board as two examples. Cooperation after disagreeing is a good thing.

      But shoot, Mike DeFusco doesn’t even know what the actual budget deficit is at this point in 2020. He said it’s a “seven to $14 million dollar budget deficit.” Tiffanie Fisher pegs Ravi’s budget deficit at around $13 million. That’s not a difference of opinion on policy just an illustration on how bad they see things with Ravi doing his best but incompetent job in Hoboken. Ravi is hiding the budget deficit!

      Don’t know who is worse, Ravi Bhalla as an incompetent slacker or his Ravibot fanatics who said he was so terrific. Well, he ain’t.

  2. When you have non working millionaires like Fisher, Giatino government contract beneficiaries like Doyle, Old money like Jabbour and Cohen we get increases. So often you hear things like this from Miss Jenn and Tiffy say ” it’s only 2%…It’s only $100… Who cant afford $54 bucks?”

    We have a council dominated by wealthy millionaire who never ran a successful retail business of their own and run in circles with phony Green promoting socialists that want to ban cars and hope the bike freaks will suddenly start shopping in Hoboken. One even suggested that the streets are turned into grass fields!

    On Jersey Digs they featured a story on JC’s newark Ave pedestrian block failure. They banned cars. Now stores are dying!

    The Car hating council is chasing out old Hoboken.

    I believe, they only fein support of rent control and affordable housing because they want to pacify one or two activists who believe Miss Jen and Tiffy Care about them, while they support conversions of 2 family browntones into 1 displacing more people in the last 5 years than any big landlord has. But it’s okay they love wealthy brownstone owners and are all too happy to keep the brown folks away from brownstones

    • Not sure who you’re pretending to be, but the budget crisis can only be blamed on 2 possible people. The current mayor for overspending since he took the oath or the mayor that anointed him before her departure and after hiding expenses and putting things off for years until she could get out.

      The council might not be economically representative of the small remaining middle class in town, but they are not to blame for this mess. Worst thing about this all is that there will now be an endless parade of developers insisting that they only way to get out of this mess is to let them build their ugly expensive sh*t buildings all over town.

    • Hoboken’s car culture like those in most other urban areas is no longer sustainable.
      Railing against that fact is not going to change the inevitable future.
      Using derogatory language when referring to others only hurts your position.

    • There are some points worth looking into here.
      The conversions of small 2-3 family homes down to exclusive single family mansions is a major cause of displacement. Fine to hate developers, but it’s the only way this town will meet there COAH and Mt Laurel obligations. PILOTs only last for 25-30 years.
      Maybe the council can get together and build communes?

  3. None of them know what they are doing. The mayor, the administration, the council – they are all responsible for this to some degree.

    They have no answers to get out of this, and don’t even know how bad it is.

    I’d like to say the incompetency is surprising, but its the norm around here.

  4. Of course the City Council shares responsibility for this – who are you kidding. Fisher and Cunningham publicly admitted last year that 5 million dollars of surplus had been drained in 2018 to cover operating expenses. $3 million of that was from increased health insurance costs for which no one was to blame but solving the problem was everyone’s responsibility. Instead The Council kicked the can down the road because it was an election year for them. The mayor proposed a tax increase that they knew full well was too small and instead of raising taxes more to fix the problem (something they knew full well was needed), they reduced the tax increase and touted their great accomplishment of screwing the City for personal political gain. They intentionally and irresponsibly made the problem worse because they didn’t have the guts to raise taxes in an election year.

    Instead of playing politics again and blaming everybody but themselves (no it wasn’t the previous administration that handed off a $27 million surplus) all of these elected officials need to roll up their sleeves and fix the problem.

    • Everyone knows this is Ravi Bhalla’s budget. It only took a couple of squeaks from the public to see these Ravi dolts show here and try to point the finger elsewhere.

      Ravi did it. Ravi owns it.

  5. It’s all part of their plan to push out poor and middle class in privately owned buildings. Rather simple you see, the landlords can pass along the increases to the tenants, the tenants won’t be able to afford, they’ll move out and landlords will jack the rents to people from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
    Luckily landlords can pass the taxes onto tenants. The new tenants will have no history of the council, no problem with development and many won’t vote right away.
    Problem solved.
    Council raises taxes, pushes out the poor who the politicians feel ask for too much and they get back to focusing on parks and bikes while the council cuts ribbons on parks and ZERO new affordable housing.

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