Hoboken BOE hits vote no group over tax hike claim related to $241M referendum, group responds


The Hoboken Board of Education is hitting the vote no faction over a tax hike claim related to the upcoming $241 million referendum, with the group returning fire.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed Hoboken High School. Screenshot via YouTube.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“$241 million referendum[.] This will result in a 20 percent TAX INCREASE. The largest in Hoboken history!,” a door hanger-style piece of literature from the vote no side says.

“This statement is false and misleading to the voting public … The actual tax increase that would result from approval of the bond is in the amount of approximately 6% on those Hoboken taxpayers who pay school taxes on an annual basis,” the BOE said in a statement released by Vision Media Marketing.

They also distanced themselves from the “Hoboken For Public Schools” group, who has been sending text messages indicating the district is supporting students by going against the proposal, the BOE also said.

Jerome Abernathy, one of several spearheading the vote no movement, responded that while the BOE wants to parse words, they continue to mislead by omission.

“Specifically the BOE states we are inflating the project’s effect on taxes. What they are not saying is that the 20% school tax increase that they are proposing is the largest school tax increase in Hoboken history, even though Hoboken residents’ overall tax bills would ‘only’ increase 6%,” he said in an email.

Abernathy further stated that this would be the most expensive high school ever built in U.S. history at about $500,000 per student, the most expensive public works project in Hoboken history, will be funded solely by taxpayers, and that the ongoing operating costs still haven’t been released.

“Our students deserve the best education in facilities that provide the most supportive learning experience. Where we differ from the BOE is that we believe the current proposal is designed with too many costly amenities that are not proven to enhance learning,” he added.

“Voters deserve to understand what this luxury project will cost them now and in the future, and they also deserve to have input into what would be the most expensive public works project in Hoboken’s history.”

The BOE has been regularly accused of trying to stifle turnout in the January 25th referendum, with those opposed noting that details of the plan didn’t begin to come to light until about a month ago – after the BOE election on November 2nd.

Nevertheless, Board of Education President Sharyn Angley said that’s not the case, indicating they are committed to having informed votes cast next Tuesday.

“There are a range of opinions and perspectives surrounding this proposal to build a new high school, and respectful disagreement is a keystone value of our democracy,” she said in a statement.

“The Board is committed to ensuring that everyone’s voices are heard and the residents of Hoboken are able to cast an informed vote on Tuesday, January 25th.”

The district also pointed out that they have had a FAQ sheet and other pertinent info posted on their website, as well as hosting a handful of public information sessions on the referendum.

The last session at Hoboken High School will take place tomorrow at 7 p.m.

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  1. The truth is we have NO idea how much this will raise our taxes, and this is just 1/3 of our taxes.

    No doubt Ravi will raise Hoboken City tax AGAIN so a 20% tax increase is conservative, in my opinion.

    • Dr. Johnson has refused to make public the projected operating cost for the proposed new high school as the sticker shock would instantly sink the January 25th referendum.

      The school tax increase, if the referendum passes, would be just the start of the additional increases to retrofit existing buildings and keep in mind the Hoboken taxes always increased every year. Again Dr. Johnson has not released that information to the public.

      Without the Federal funds Hoboken was given last year to bolster the City budget it is certain Hoboken property taxes will increase significantly.

      There is a tipping point were Hoboken will become unaffordable to all but the very rich who are willing and can absorb the high taxes and the very poor who don’t pay any or only highly reduced taxes.

  2. Ms Abernathy and the HBOE are intent on trying to confuse the voters that they were ever part of or that their opinions were even ever considered when $241,000,000 plan was prepared and put on the ballot.

    The taxpayers who will have to pay for the whole thing have been only given on choice take it or leave it.

    A NO vote will allow the voices of many people who were excluded and ignored by the HBOE to be heard.

      • Simple Answer.

        Like everything else Hoboken taxpayers are.

        The plan was try to quietly slip this quarter million dollar plus building past the public without any community input and when that didn’t happen they hired an expensive politically connected media firm.

  3. I have a serious question for the supporters of this project.

    Unless I’m missing something, if this gets voted down the BOE will conduct a more transparent public process, make changes to the plan based on public input, and put the revised plan up for consideration by voters next November.

    If that’s true, why should anyone vote yes now unless they think this plan is perfect and can’t be made better?

  4. Back in the 1990’s the activists asked the public to Vote No on Pier A because it was a bad plan back then.
    A 22 Story hotel ON THE PIER!

    City Hall said if not now, The Port Authority would lave Hoboken and we would lose a waterfront park forever!
    The Pasculli and Roberts Administration lied, Anthony Russo then a councilman joined with The CBW and FBW and stopped the highrises on the pier.
    Guess what?
    A better park was the result of voting NO

    • That is a good analogy. The “now or never” narrative from the school board is simply fearmongering. These school board members have had little opposition in recent years, and they are not used to any pushback. Hoboken voters need to show them who they work for, and to earn our trust, maybe it’s time we put the entire school budget on the ballot, the way it used to be.

  5. If built the high rise high school building goes up Columbus Park will be in dense shade all day. Having both the Jr and Sr High school border the park will make it a school yard and destroy the peaceful oasis it has been for a hundred years.