Zitt & Turner feud heats up as the 2 North Hudson mayors trade punches over fire dept.


The feud between two of the five North Hudson mayors that oversee Hudson County’s regional fire department is heating up, with the two electeds trading punches over the way the agency has been operating.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“There have been manpower shortages at dangerous fires that are placing our firefighters in potential peril. And it stems mainly from the Township of Weehawken purposely shortchanging the department through tax abatement deals it has made with developers,” Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt said in a statement.

North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, which also serves Union City, West New York, and North Bergen, was established in early 1999 and has served the five municipalities ever since.

Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner is wildly credited as the mastermind behind getting the regional concept off the ground and serves as the chair of the NHRFR board.

According to Zitt, “Weehawken is exploiting an outdated budget formula for the department used to calculate annual payments made by each of the five member communities,” claiming that $618 million in tax-exempt properties is not included in the NHRFR budget.

“This is a deceitful method of taking advantage of other communities sharing the service such as Guttenberg and Union City where the use of such PILOT programs is virtually non-existent,” Zitt exclaimed.

“Weehawken is annually collecting millions of dollars in tax revenue on properties that are not being considered to have any taxable improvement value when calculating its payments to the NHRF&R. It unconscionable.”

Zitt has been pressing Turner about the funding formula for years, with the Guttenberg Town Council approving a resolution creating an exploratory committee to look at the feasibility of creating a volunteer fire department when their contract with NHRFR expires next year, as HCV first reported.

Expectedly, Turner responded in kind, claiming that Zitt is “incredibly misinformed” on how the department operates and heavily implied his public attack was more about the non-partisan May 9th municipal elections.

Turner is Albio Sires’ right hand man, while Public Affairs Commissioner and mayoral hopeful Cosmo Cirillo is the Guttenberg business administrator. Hiram Gonzalez, one of the Cirillo’s running mates, also works for the Town of Guttenberg.

“Mayor Zitt’s statements about North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue are incredibly misinformed and raise serious questions about whether his employees Cosmo Cirillo and Hiram Gonzalez (both candidates in the West New York May 9th election) really have the best interests of West New York taxpayers at heart,” he said in his own statement.

“The fact is that Mayor Zitt has been threatening to pull Guttenberg out of NHRFR for months and return to a volunteer fire department. This would not only endanger the lives of Guttenberg residents, but it would also cost West New York taxpayers over $500,000 per year. This would be a disaster for West New York, but with Cosmo Cirillo working for Mayor Zitt as his business administrator, you have to wonder whether he would stand with his employer or with the people of West New York.”

Turner continued that the funding formula for NHRFR is based on the assessed property values in all five municipalities and payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements have zero impact on that, he also questioned the notion that the department has manpower issues.

Furthermore, the NHRFR charter indicates that their funding structure must be re-examined every 25 years, which would be next year, something Turner says he and Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Anthony Vainieri told Zitt to his face.

“I also would question why Mayor Zitt and Cosmo Cirillo refuse to utilize the REAP tax credit for Guttenberg residents. The other four NHRFR participating municipalities use this credit to benefit their taxpayers, as the state allows, to incentivize regionalization,” Turner also said.

“If they were really so concerned about Guttenberg taxpayers, they would use this program instead of putting out false attacks and lying.”

Additionally, a letter from NHRFR Chief David Donnarumma from today says the department “is responding to alarms with the highest level of personnel in the last 13 years.”

He also indicated that their daily staffing has at least 56 personnel on duty, with a minimum of 35 personnel responding to each fire.

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  1. Mayor Turner,
    If you feel that Mayor Zitt is misinformed why haven’t you sat down with him and all the Mayors to inform them on your method or formula. You also pointed out that Cirillo and Gonzalez work for Guttenberg but forgot to mention your involvement with congressman Sires and that Victor Barrera and Parkinson work for you. Doesn’t Caridad Rodriguez’s husband as well?

    • Anjie didn’t your boyfriend work for Guttenberg becusse you asked for him to have a job there and he quit . Couldn’t that job have went to another constituent ? Oh no your your boyfriend wanted it and he QUIT !!!!
      And Mayor Zitt isn’t the one to talk to the puppeteer is Joey “ Almost gone” Munoz
      Wasn’t your son recycles in the police academy ? Didn’t you go to the powers that be to get him recycled ?

      • Wow, you have got ALL of your information wrong! 😂 that’s no surprise. I will tell you this much my son has more courage, kindness and dignity than anyone on a platform that does not have the …. To sign their name. Maybe you should ask his father that is a great supporter of the opposition. As the Proud mother at a police officer, proud candidate a a solid ticket ( no puppets on our ticket) I thank all our police officers for the extraordinary job that they do from a department that is basically running from a trailer because the town puppeteers ( I cannot keep up with who is running my town at this moment)have not addressed the condition these officers work from!

        • Anjelica you gave your boyfriend a job at the Township of Gutenberg . Have you helped other constituents get jobs in municipalities? Was his job listed somewhere where anyone could have applied. You had a retired Chief if Police as an aid in your office he resigned because of your “ antics” his integrity is untarnished and would not stay on board with you . You support the police how many police funerals have you attended as an Assemblywoman. How many jobs have you had in the county with your position. Who’s working in your office were those jobs available to other constituents? Hmmmm nepotism at its best. You want to trash the same people who supported you until Joey Muniz out his strings on you. Shame on you .

    • Angelica, once again, you got it wrong. It’s not about where people work. It’s about the motive behind WHY Cirillo & Gonzalez want West New York taxpayers paying $500,000 more!!!

      • Does anyone know how to read? Where in the article does it say that Cirillo and Gonzalez want WNY to pay more? What a way to gaslight an entire community! But that’s politics as usual…let’s ignore the fact that Turner has had his foot on West New York, Union City and Guttenberg’s neck blatantly and disrespectfully enriching himself with tax payers money. Shame on you for trying to change the narrative.

  2. NHRFR last 25+ years Weehawken and NB Jobs program.

    WNY,UC and Gutt citizens need not apply, not hired here.

    Only North Bergen and Weehawken people get hired at this Agency.

    Time to disband this Weehawken and North Bergen Fire Dept.

  3. Why does HCV even cover North Hudson? What you publish amounts to little more than gossip if HCV doesn’t bother researching and providing context for readers (and voters) to make informed decisions.

    It is interesting to note that on issue over issue, when it does get reported, that Sires, and those who are aligned with Sires, are very quick to antagonize and demonize those with opposing views.