Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise both had their feet held to the fire as hundreds reactedÂ to their input onÂ public safety, tax revaluation and affordable housingÂ at the Jersey City Together group meeting held at Old Bergen Church.
Fulop and Rev.Â Laurie Wurm of Grace Church Van Vorst went back and forth after she asked if he could commit to improving public safety at the south and west districts of Jersey City.
He did push to explain that his top priority to improving public safety with taxpayer dollars is â€œrecruitment of up to 900 police officers,â€ to increase foot patrol in the south and west district since â€œevery new police officer goes to a walking postâ€ in those two areas and the â€œcommitment to body cameras.â€
Wurm also asked how he intends to fix the cameras not working properly in the highest crime districts in the city.
â€œYes it’s a priority, yes we are working on it, yes we are committed to one system and yes we are committed to more cameras,â€ answered Fulop.
Next, Fulop was asked if could make a $3 million commitment of local money to the cityâ€™ affordable housing trust fund.
The mayor first explained that there is between $3 million to $6 million in the affordable housing trust fund and â€œnever, in a year, has that money been spent out.â€
â€œIf this group has applicants that come forward, we would spend every dollar and then some, but I canâ€™t commit to $3 million when the applications are not coming through to spend whatâ€™s already there.â€
Rev. Alonzo Perry Sr. of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church asked about the tax revaluation repeatedly to see if the mayor could provide a firm yes or no commitment.
â€œWill you commit to a revaluation in Jersey City and when will you do it?â€
â€œWe are fighting for money bank that was ill spent, first and foremost, then we will have money to pursue a reval and advocate for state changes on the law that protects people,â€ explained Fulop.
â€œWill you commit to a revaluation in Jersey City?â€ Perry asked again.
â€œWe will go through every remedy to pursue our money. That is your money,â€ answered Fulop.
DeGise initially received applause when he told Rev.Â Jessica Lambert of St. Paulâ€™s Lutheran Church that his â€œdoor will always be open for a discussion on the issueâ€ when it comes to â€œworking meetings to help identify opportunitiesâ€ to help reduce and end chronic homelessness.
But when Lambert asked for a $3 million commitment to the homelessness trust fund, thatâ€™s when the room turned sour since DeGise explained he cannot make a determination of how much he can allocated to the fund especially after just meeting with the group for the first time on Thursday.
â€œI canâ€™t commit to $3 million. The $3 million is not mine. I have 12 taxpayers. Theyâ€™re all cities in Hudson County. I donâ€™t collect taxes the way the mayor does,” DeGise said.
One by one, public officials were asked to make a concrete commitments on how they intend to work with Jersey City Together and it was only Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles who received a loud applause after publicly committing to $600,000 in additional funding to schools, mainly P.S. 15, 29, and 12.
The money would be used to improve after school programs, as well as the overall quality of education.
There were over 835 faith and community leaders along with over 30 congregations who joined the Jersey City Together public launch.
This group is a multi-faith coalition of 30 members focusing on effective change in Jersey Cityâ€™s neighborhoods. Itâ€™s a broad based chapter of New Jersey Together, the northern New Jersey affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).
Back in December, the group spoke out against the violence “crisis” in the city, expressing disappointment over initially not being able to meet with Police Chief Philip Zacche on the issue.