Hoboken 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher is the first elected official to come out against the upcoming $241 million school referendum on January 25th.
“I am not a yes vote on the New High School as currently proposed. I think the proposal is a Ferrari when maybe all we need is a Honda (or something in between) and would like to know if there is a different proposal that is a better fit (more affordable but still amazing) and determined based upon a process that is more transparent and involves input from many public stakeholders, not just a small few,” she said in an email blast last week.
“I actually support the need for a new High School, but my current view is a ‘not this / not yet / no on this proposal, and please try again.’ The BOE gave us this path by saying if this proposal is not approved, they would bring another proposal back in a year. Let’s take them up on that offer.”
She added that the proposal is actually closer to $330 million after the interest of the three-decade financial commitment is factored in, as well as that she decided to weigh in since mail-in ballots had just gone out.
“As an informed taxpayer, although I strongly believe the enrollment wave justifies expanded facilities, I am not confident that the Ferrari version of a school costing taxpayers $330 million is what is best for Hoboken without knowing if there is another alternative that could cost less and be a better fit,” Fisher continued.
” … And importantly, if you get to buy a new car using other people’s money, shouldn’t you have to explain why you need to spend so much to everyone you are borrowing the money from, not just those who will get to ride in it (which in this case are about 10% of Hoboken residents and taxpayers)?”
The project would be four stories tall and approximately 374,700 square feet with a 110 car spot garage underneath the school that will allow the first floor of the school to be elevated to comply with FEMA regulations.
The proposed Hoboken High School would have 27 general classrooms, 11 specialized learning rooms, and six self-contained special education rooms.
The price tag would lead to an approximately $496 annual tax increase per household, the school district has confirmed. Fisher said in a prior email that the school tax increase would be around 20 percent and the overall tax increase would be about six percent.
Last month, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his three top allies on the city council, Emily Jabbour, Jim Doyle, and Phil Cohen, came out in support of the “transformative project,” indicating it would improve children’s quality of education along with increasing local property values.