The Jersey City Council voted to give initial approval to bond $170 million towards property acquisition that would pave the way for the city to build affordable housing on the Bayfront in Ward A.
Ward D Councilman Michael Yun voted no, the lone no vote in the 8-1 first reading approval, because he said the city is already carrying a heavy debt load.
He added that he’s in favor of the city building more affordable housing, but not at the expense of exacerbating the city’s debt.
“At the last caucus meeting I brought up the issue that city had [an] outstanding gross debt of $775 million, that’s outstanding balance of the bonds, in 2016. After we paid off some, the net debt was then $450 million. But in 2017 our total gross debt went up again to $749 million. After we paid, net debt was $455 million. For this year, our gross debt was $650 million; after we paid debt service and interest, net debt is around $400 million,” Yun began.
He continued that the debt will rise in 2019.
“So in beginning of 2019, our gross debt will be over $700 million. In May of this year, we issued $45 million in bonds, plus we are now going to issue $170 million towards Bayfront, as well as $14.5 million to cover retirees. If we add all this up it’s already $684.5 million, plus as usual every year there’s another $200 million, so end of 2019 our gross debt will be close to $900 million, which means this amount is three times higher than our municipal tax collection.”
Despite Yun’s argument, Council President Rolando Lavarro said that the bonding of $170 million towards a vastly improved Bayfront is well worth the investment for the city.
“This is a unique opportunity for Jersey City to do something unprecedented, and that’s to build massive amounts of affordable housing and to make Jersey City affordable for all the residents of Jersey City. And so I think this is well worth the investment to acquire all the properties at Bayfront,” Lavarro said.
The full discussion on the ordinance streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: