Jersey City Council to consider introducing amendments that bring budget up to $701M


The Jersey City Council will consider introducing amendments bringing the budget up to $701,380,029.82, nearly $4 million more than the preliminary budget approved last month.

Jersey City Budget Examiner Kyle Greaves speaks at the June 26th, 2023 city council caucus. Screenshot via YouTube.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The council will consider authorizing amendments to the budget, which was initially $697,509,540.10 when approved on first reading in May, which comes out to an additional $3,870,489, the resolution says.

Budget Examiner Kyle Greaves said the temporary appropriations are necessary to get through the next few weeks before the council considers the second and final reading of the budget on July 12th.

“This wouldn’t be adopting the changes, this would be an introduction, and then on July 12th, we’d have a public hearing on those amendments and then a resolution to adopt,” he said at the podium.

Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore asked if the council could see how the money being requested was spent, to which Greaves said specific line item breakdowns could be provided upon request.

Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who introduced a measure to require monthly overtime reports from department heads that was approved in January, began by asking why the allocation for street lighting went from $2.3 million to $3.5 million in one year.

“That one specifically, I know that one was just the timing of the payments. When we closed out the budget year on December 31st, I don’t think we were all caught up with our invoices, so I could get you that. We drew down on our appropriation invoices probably in January,” explained Greaves.

“I know in this budget, we’ve transferred a lot of operating to capital, and we understand it’s a tough year and limiting the increases. What is the plan for next year, and then obviously subsequent years, for the roughly $16 million that’s been moved from operating to capital in this year’s budget,” Solomon continued.

Greaves replied that capital needs sometimes change, but for the moment, there aren’t any plans for additional capital borrowing.

Solomon followed up by asking if that meant either capital borrowing, including it in the operating budget, or cutting it all together for next year, to which Greaves reiterated that it would depend on circumstances.

The downtown councilman also inquired about the status of collective bargaining agreements, to which Greaves said they are either in negotiations or not happening yet since none are complete.

Finally, Solomon concluded by asking if the final budget is indeed approved on July 12th, if it would be possible to send out the 3rd and 4th quarter tax bills without an estimated 3rd quarter bill going out first.

Greaves said he didn’t think so but would confirm, to which Business Administrator John Metro said he believed the deadline is July 15th.

The online estimates for the 3rd quarter tax bill has residents seeing an increase from the 2nd quarter of about seven to eight percent, but according to city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione, the tax increase for the year will still be around 2 percent.

“The amendment is for the inclusion of grants that have been received. It does not add any burden to taxpayers. As for taxes, the only portion of taxes the Mayor and City Council have any control over is the municipal property taxes, which make up less than 40% of the tax bill you reference,” she added.

“A majority of taxes that residents pay are to independently elected boards at the schools and county government. In full transparency, we sent out a letter with every tax bill explaining a 2% increase for the 2023-2023 budget that is well below the inflation rate and equates to $6 per month for the average household.”

This year, the Jersey City Board of Education approved an over $1 billion budget with no tax increase, while the Hudson County Board of Commissioners just approved a roughly $688 million budget, where the average Jersey City homeowner will see a $27 tax decrease.

“I am committed to scrutinizing the budget and keeping taxes as low as possible,”  Solomon said today, noting that the goal was to keep the tax increase around 2 percent, as Mayor Steven Fulop mentioned in his State of the City in March.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353