The Hoboken City Council will consider the first reading of their initial $135 million budget with a seven percent tax increase at Wednesday’s meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
According to the mayor’s office, the tax hike equates to an estimated $13 a month – or $156 for the year – for a property owner with an average assessed property of $526,800.
In July, the Mile Square City adopted a $131.67 million budget with a 2.56 percent tax increase, which was also far below the rate of inflation for the previous year.
“The proposed 2023 budget will allow us to continue to transform our City for the better through critical investments that provide for not just the residents of today but the residents of tomorrow,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.
“This responsible budget prioritizes major investments in infrastructure upgrades through millions annually in water main replacements, flood resiliency projects, Vision Zero safety improvements, and much more. My Administration looks forward to working with the City Council to finalize this budget in the coming weeks.”
He continued that the proposed budget will also expand the city’s surplus to affirm their continued AA+ credit rating and that that they have the lowest municipal tax on the average residential assessment in Hudson County.
The mayor also indicated the proposed budget overcomes significant fixed cost increases, including over $1 million increases in State pension costs, a nearly $2 million increase in healthcare costs, over $1 million in contract obligations, an annual inflation rate of about 6.5 percent, and high interest rates.
Additionally, Bhalla said “discretionary spending” has been brought in house rather than hiring contractors, such as in the Engineering and Law Departments.
Other specific benchmarks of this budget include acquiring Union Dry Dock, replacing aging water mains, beginning construction of the Northwest Resiliency Park, and expanding the division of housing and recreation departments – among other things.
The city also indicated that the budget would be available online once it is introduced, which 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said is unacceptable, as was the timing of the announcement – after 4 p.m. on a Friday.
“Gee, a well timed, late Friday afternoon, announced 7% tax hike without including the actual budget itself. Another example of how the public doesn’t stand a chance with the Bhalla administration that runs the city like it’s just one big taxpayer-funded campaign,” she said in her own statement.
Furthermore, nine virtual budget workshops will be held over Zoom on three separate days and the schedule is as follows:
Thursday, March 16
Administration – 6:00 p.m.
Corporation Counsel – 6:40 p.m.
City Clerk – 7:10 p.m.
Community Development – 7:40 p.m.
Monday, March 20
Public Safety – 6:00 p.m.
Health & Human Services – 7:00 p.m.
Monday, March 27, 2023
Transportation & Parking – 6:00 p.m.
Environmental Services – 6:30 p.m.
Water Utility – 7:15 p.m.