The Jersey City Council is unlikely to vote on this year’s $695,264,198.48 budget for several weeks, with the governing body set to vote on making an application to the Local Finance Board “to raise their cash deficit outside of the Appropriations CAP” this week.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
At today’s caucus, Budget Director Kyle Greaves explained why the resolution was on Wednesday’s agenda.
“This is just a statutory requirement that we have to meet prior to amending and adopting the budget. This accounts for one of the appropriations that we had in the budget this year for money due from FEMA, some other small items: This should be the last step prior to adopting,” Greaves told the council.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who has served on the council since 2018, said he didn’t recall taking such an action in the past and therefore asked if it had been done before.
Greaves said he didn’t recall doing it recently, but noted that the money was actually supposed to be allocated to the prior budget but it didn’t make it in time.
“There won’t be a material impact on the budget, we can now anticipate those dollars this year, but this is something we’re required to do prior to adopting the budget,” he added.
Solomon then asked for a timeline on the budget, which was approved on first reading in July.
Greaves indicated that the finance board must sign off on the amendment, which then must be approved by the council before they can vote on the municipal spending plan.
“The amendment would be introduced, and then at the next meeting would have a public hearing, where – it’s my favorite part of the job – to read [the budget] line by line to everybody,” chimed in City Clerk Sean Gallagher.
Next, Solomon questioned when they anticipated a budget vote.
“Ideally, if we could work with the council on maybe a special meeting to get the amendment introduced, this way we could adopt it by the next regularly scheduled meeting. Like I said, we really don’t have a definitive timeline until the state gives us a definite answer on when we’ll get the to Local Finance Board,” Greaves explained.
Their next meeting is scheduled for October 12th and applications for that meeting are due on September 21st, according to their website.
However, Greaves also said that he is hoping the city can also push for a special meeting with them to move the process along.
Council President Joyce Watterman stated that it’s not uncommon for the state to hold up their budget before asking Business Administrator John Metro if they could get a special meeting scheduled.
He replied that the finance board is still meeting remotely, which could help their odds of getting a hearing sooner.
She followed up by asking Metro if they could have the budget resolved by their October 13th meeting, to which he said they could as long as the Local Finance Board will accommodate them with a special meeting.
At that point, Solomon asked for the council to receive a copy of the amendments to avoid further delays and Metro responded that they would get them.
The municipal budget comes with about a $1,030 tax increase per household assessed at $470,000, compared to a $967 tax decrease last year.
Mayor Steven Fulop has targeted the board of education for their tax increase, which is about $1,608 on a home evaluated at $460,000.
While the BOE called the increases “inevitable and necessary” in June, citing major state aid cuts and obligations so students, Fulop bludgeoned the BOE in a letter sent to homeowners the following month.
” … The Board of Education continues to rely on raising taxes rather than taking responsibility to fix their budget without impacting classrooms,” he wrote at the time.
Last month, in a meeting that was mostly dominated by public speakers addressing Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise’s July 19th hit-and-run, the council approved a $357 million emergency appropriation to keep the city running prior to the budget vote.