Bayonne resident Peter Franco, an outspoken critic of Mayor Jimmy Davis, says that the new administration’s spending has gotten out of hand in a letter to the editor submitted to Hudson County View.Â
Policy not politics.
Our city would be better served if we open up the dialogue about the real reason property taxes are going up; the structural deficit. This deficit was not created by Mayor Davis but it is his responsibility to address it because it will catastrophically affect everyone in Bayonne.
When he took office the deficit sat around $20,000,000; a near 50% decrease thanks to hard work and fiscal restraint of the previous administration. In as little as 8 short months our current business administrator, Joe Demarco, and the mayor have put the brakes on our financial recovery.
Our deficit has grown as a direct result of the Davis administration’s increased spending. Meanwhile, the tax base hasn’t changed in 8 months. So while we may have faced a tax increase to cover portions of the $20,000,000 shortfall, the current increase is going to be substantially higher thanks to this administration’s policies.
Don’t take my word for it. Go to the city clerk’s office and submit an OPRA request yourself. Ask for a list of employees on June 30th, 2014 and a current list and compare the two. 45 new hires at a cost of $2 million and that’s without benefits.
This could potentially be a total increase of $4 million to the 2015 budget or $16 million over the next four years. While you’re at the clerks office, request a copy of purchases made in the last 8 months. Observe with your own eyes what Mayor Davis has been spending your money on.
I spoke at the council meeting this past week and asked what revenue they are anticipating to support this new spending. The Business Administrator rattled off a dozen projects; unfortunately, he failed to note these developments were under tax abatements.
In layman’s terms there is no new revenue to support their spending and that’s irresponsible. There are only a few ways this can possibly be paid for: additional tax increases on property owners, raising rates fees and fines on residents or by raiding the remaining $11,237,178.65 (property tax relief funds) out of the Bayonne Municipal Utilities AuthorityÂ concessions.
The reason we have this deficit in the first place is Bayonne can not raise enough money to pay our bills. It’s as simple as that. When you can’t afford to pay the employees you already have you don’t hire more. When you’re broke you don’t go shopping.
I don’t know how else I can stress it; we cannot spend our way out of debt. We will never ever stabilize taxes if we don’t address this shortfall; a shortfall that will affect everyone from property owners to renters when this new budget is proposed.
It’s been 8 months of spending, blaming, and shuffling money around. No town halls. No press release on the economic forecast or financial updates. No opening of the books to residents just misleading rhetoric and smokescreens.
I know I’m not the only resident concerned about this in a city of 65,000 but it’s getting a little lonely being the only one speaking out against it. I hope this letter is the spotlight cast upon what is wrong and our community demands our elected officials change course and make things right.