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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Frinjc wrote:
68 millions for health insurance... Either it includes coverage for employees of "independent" authority such as the incinerator authority or..., there are fictional employees on the payroll.
That's how Chirac funded his party activities when he was mayor of Paris.


There were definitely a dozen dead people collecting school district salaries, how can you doubt there's some less that corporate folks on the city payroll?

Posted on: 2011/3/17 23:15
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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68 millions for health insurance... Either it includes coverage for employees of "independent" authority such as the incinerator authority or..., there are fictional employees on the payroll.
That's how Chirac funded his party activities when he was mayor of Paris.

Regarding debt payment, we are already >10% of the budget so I don't think it is insignificant. As for MDM comments I agree. Many tax liens on the city books are no longer worth the money with the way properties keep dropping each time the tax increase. The more the city taxes, the faster the tax base will collapse.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 23:03
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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thriftyT wrote:
...City workers contribute 1.5% of their salaries towards their own insurance which adds up to $798,000
...

Please explain this.


The $798,000 figure is how much the city claims it collects by garnishing 1.5% of wages. But upon casual inspection of the budget, it appears that $250+ million goes to wages. Therefore the employee contribution figure should really be $3.5+ million.

Someone please explain this. This is a gross inconsistency or a major typo. If it is not a typo, then what this implies is that a large number of our city employees are getting health insurance without making a penny in contributions.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 20:51
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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$480 million annual budget.

Some of the largest outlays are:

Total Administration budget: $14 million
Total Public works budget: $14 million

Debt Service: $50 million
city contribution for group health insurance: $68 million

Fire Dept salaries: $62 million
Police Dept salaries: $92 million
Police / Fire retirement: #35 million

Incenerator authority: $25 million


There are something like 400+ line items on the appropriations list.

These 8 items account for 75% of our city budget.

You're welcome.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 20:38
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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$1.9 million on Infomation Technology (IT) and we can't even get a searchable PDF budget.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 19:47
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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I love how the official downloadable PDF is a low-quality, hard-to-read, poorly formatted document.

One can infer that the government a) purposely makes the data hard to digest for their constituents or b) is not very technically savvy, or c) does not care about quality, or d) all of the above

I wouldn't expect anything more from Jersey City government at this point.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 19:11
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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MDM wrote:

Healy and company are going to turn this city into Detroit on the Hudson via their fiscal mismanagement.


+1

but can't believe you would dare say that in NJ, much less Hudson County

Posted on: 2011/3/17 17:39
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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MDM wrote:
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thriftyT wrote:


So the city pays $54 million in salary and $75 million in health benefits???!!!

Please explain this.


Before getting on my wife's insurance, my contributions to health insurance was $550 per month. It was technically $500 paid by my employer with an additional $50 taken out of my paycheck.
... I wonder if the city's insurance is the same way.


Your situation is very typical, but it doesn't explain the figures in the budget. Your total insurance cost for the year - regardless of whether the employee and/or employer pays - is typically in the $5,000 to $12,000 range.

Unless I'm missing something here, the city is footing $20,000+ per year per employee for health insurance.

Does anyone know how many employees Jersey City has?

Posted on: 2011/3/17 16:02
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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riazw wrote:
[quote]
In the above link that you have mentioned the number is same:

sheet 3B_1:

Last ROW:

Amount to be raised by Taxation for Municipal Purposes: $208,650,271


I was talking about the arbitrary "calendar year budget" number of $210 million - I found it subsequently. It really has no place in this discussion since it is not an audited number, was never subject to an actual budget process nor approved by council. It is a cherry-picked construct that can never be disproved. (Or proved.)

Posted on: 2011/3/17 15:52
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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DanL wrote:

the city started collecting the higher rate/anticipated budget amount last year, so for those that pay their taxes directly, they are already paying the higher rate and will not see a bump in their tax bill, for those that pay via their mortgage, they may / may not see an increase in their escrow payments depending when their mortgage bank/servicer does the escrow recalculation. it has been common practice in the past for the first and second quarter tax bill to be higher, then its drops in the third and fourth quarters when the actual budget has been approved. the city does not/cannot wait until the budget is approved to increase tax collections since people would be left owing large lump sums.


It's creepy how you seem to have become a Healy apologist in your quest to be the wise voice of reason. Do the math - if the claim is that during calendar year taxes collected were $210 million and we know that the "Transition Year portion" was $97 million, that would mean taxes collected during the first half of 2010 would have to have been $113 million. $97 million is $16 million (or about 14%) lower than $113 million. Using your tax bill as a proxy, you should have seen a roughly 14% drop in your tax bill for the second half of the year (combined bills) over the first half (combined bills). Did you?

No. The constant shifting of comparision periods (calendar year, transition year, fiscal year) and weak, ill-explained reasons for anomolies (tax historically drop in certain periods) are signs of a government acting irresponsibly and without accountability (if they are getting away with it which, to date, they are.) This is yet another reason why budgeting on the fly, mid-year makes no sense. (Sure, the budget will be done many months earlier than it has been in recent years - it will still be about four months late.) Without a budget in place and (likely intentional) uneven tax billing through the year - it is nigh on impossible to know exactly what is happening fiscally. Why do you want to just take their word for it and leave it at that?

Posted on: 2011/3/17 15:49
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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thriftyT wrote:


So the city pays $54 million in salary and $75 million in health benefits???!!!

Please explain this.


Before getting on my wife's insurance, my contributions to health insurance was $550 per month. It was technically $500 paid by my employer with an additional $50 taken out of my paycheck.

At the time, I was in my early 30's. One month's contribution would have covered all out of pocket medical expenses (mostly over the counter allergy medication and travel meds like typhoid vaccine) for the entire year.

It really wasn't insurance, but a health maintenance plan. People like me only needed catastrophic coverage (the real purpose of insurance). Instead, the insurance became a non-cash form of compensation that I never used. I wonder if the city's insurance is the same way.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 11:35
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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The city is approaching "critical mass" in regards to the tax levy. Given the current economic situation, the tax and sewer (45%!) rate jumps cannot be easily passed off as rent increases. In fact, in 2008, personally I cut rents to the 'break even' point to keep the apartments at least occupied.

Two tax and a sewer increase later, now I am in a cash flow negative situation. I can't raise rents back up to compensate. I bought and renovated all my properties long before the property bubble, when property was dirt cheap.

At some point the value of small (non-abated) properties will crater as the rent or rent equivalent income will simply make it uneconomical to buy in Jersey City. Prospective owners, even those who live in their properties (using rent income to help pay the mortgage) will look elsewhere.

This will result in the city getting hit with massive number of tax appeals, as the real property values collapse compared to surrounding communities. If things get bad enough (this has happened in the past), owners will simply walk away, leaving the city with a vacant building and a pile of tax liens.

If there is no sign of budget sanity, those tax liens may not sell at auction (also this has happened in the past). Have you seen the list of unpaid taxes in Jersey City, published in the Jersey Journal? Its almost as many pages as the rest of the paper itself! What happens to Jersey City if say a third or more of those liens do not sell at auction? How fast does this city end up not paying its bills? How soon after do we end up with properties being auctioned off a prices well below their tax lien amounts?

Healy and company are going to turn this city into Detroit on the Hudson via their fiscal mismanagement.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 11:23
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Can't help but notice $75 million out of $500 million goes to city workers' health insurance. City workers contribute 1.5% of their salaries towards their own insurance which adds up to $798,000

So the city pays $54 million in salary and $75 million in health benefits???!!!

Please explain this.

Posted on: 2011/3/17 3:13
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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StevenFulop wrote:


@Riaz

It is absolutely not as you wrote ?how you interpret the numbers?. This is Bernie Madoff accounting and there is nothing stable about this budget. It is not the same as if the mayor is saying ?there is no tax increase? or that ?taxes are flat?. One is an opinion and one is a fact. I will show you later when I see you at the council meeting the math that doesn?t add up . Again, it is Bernie Madoff accounting and again this does not assume a property sale that they factored in which is far from closed.


Steve:

All I am pointing out is $23.5m increased taxes between calendar and fiscal year 2010 & 2011, and $1.5m decrease (THEY CLAIM) between 2010 & 2011 calendar year. Our TAXES must be REDUCED (not STABLE kind of fairy-tale) in this economy, particularly when Mayor Healy claims that we are in DEEP RECESSION !!! I was told this does NOT include school taxes.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 19:13
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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@Downtown

I appreciate the healthy skepticism on political dynamics and you are absolutely right and I wouldn?t change a thing. We got the budget last week arriving at the caucus before the council meeting. There was literally no time to review it as that was their intention. It is a very large document, but in the subsequent days to that meeting I did ask the administration these exact questions which was ignored. It leaves little choice and knowing that the administration will ignore/mischaracterize deliberately the situation ? of course the timing from my standpoint is intentional when I would post this. It is today that this info would be most relevant. So you know, I had several recommendations for them to consolidate and cut but there wasn?t the political will from their side. Your assumptions are actually accurate and again I wouldn?t change a thing



@Riaz

It is absolutely not as you wrote ?how you interpret the numbers?. This is Bernie Madoff accounting and there is nothing stable about this budget. It is not the same as if the mayor is saying ?there is no tax increase? or that ?taxes are flat?. One is an opinion and one is a fact. I will show you later when I see you at the council meeting the math that doesn?t add up . Again, it is Bernie Madoff accounting and again this does not assume a property sale that they factored in which is far from closed.



@Dan

I disagree with you on this and you will see that later in the year assuming everything stays the same I contend that you will see a tax increase regardless. The math is what the math is. Any which way one breaks down the budget, the end result is that there is an increase in the amount to be raised by taxation that hasn?t been paid. If you would like you can call me and I am happy to walk you through that.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 18:10
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Fulop...YOU BETTER RUN FOR MAYOR!!! Healy is the epitome of the worst of politicians...corruption/patronage! It doesn't matter if he has good intentions...he is part of the problem and too weak to change. We cannot wait 10 years for things to be transparent in JC government.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 16:57
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Quote:

J_Downtown wrote:

Seems much more like a political move as opposed to trying to have a discussion with the Mayor or getting some clarification for the residents.


Probably true about the political part, but guess I don't really care. In terms of timing it seems smart, as it forces the mayor to do exactly that give us clarification tonight without an easy ride. Unlike most of Jersey City I don't think Healy is a bad guy, and I'm sure he has good intentions. But the same way I could care less about Fulop's intentions, I don't care about Healy's either. I am looking for outcome and the outcome I'm looking for is stable (better yet decreased) taxes.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 14:01
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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the monies raised by property taxes that strikes the tax rate are being increased by just under 13% and that is the figure that matters.

the city started collecting the higher rate/anticipated budget amount last year, so for those that pay their taxes directly, they are already paying the higher rate and will not see a bump in their tax bill, for those that pay via their mortgage, they may / may not see an increase in their escrow payments depending when their mortgage bank/servicer does the escrow recalculation. it has been common practice in the past for the first and second quarter tax bill to be higher, then its drops in the third and fourth quarters when the actual budget has been approved. the city does not/cannot wait until the budget is approved to increase tax collections since people would be left owing large lump sums.

so yes, taxes are not stable!

we must start restructuring, consolidating, sharing services to reduce the cost of local government, we must seek and increase non-property tax revenue. to do so requires a "plan" which we still do not have. while we need to mitigate the impact on services, to do so, yes, we need to establish priorities and we need to evaluate legacy services provided and determine if they are redundant or also being done by other providers and eliminate.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 13:27
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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StevenFulop wrote:

...The mayor stood at the caucus two weeks ago and handed a document accompanied with an untruthful press release sent out the following day characterizing "stable taxes? or as the mayor stated "no municipal tax increase this year"....


So you got this info two weeks ago and waited until the day before the State of the City address to send the administration a letter asking them to respond to it in their State of the City address?

So this way they either:

1. Rework the address the day before to include a lot of references to last year's taxes
2. Have you set up with an attack (for example "I wish he would've addressed my letter") after listening to a list of accomplishments for ~45 minutes.

I know this is a part time job and I'm sure you're busy but this info isn't even new, the Jersey Journal on March 8th wrote:
"...the amount to be raised by taxes - $208,650,272 - is 12 percent higher than last year.

Though city officials have not yet said how the proposed budget will affect individual homeowners, Healy said last night he expects the tax rate to be "stable.""

http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/jerse ... 99569120114121.xml&coll=3

Seems much more like a political move as opposed to trying to have a discussion with the Mayor or getting some clarification for the residents.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 13:23
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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If this tax increase happens I am moving my family out of here. I will sell my place and be gone. I am done.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 12:33
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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T-Bird wrote:
Riaz,

Not sure where you're getting your numbers but those aren't what the city published in it's budgets. They are available here: http://www.cityofjerseycity.com/pub-i ... 0&terms=transition+budget


There is another User friendly document is in circulation too.

In the above link that you have mentioned the number is same:

sheet 3B_1:

Last ROW:

Amount to be raised by Taxation for Municipal Purposes: $208,650,271

Posted on: 2011/3/16 4:02
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Riaz,

Not sure where you're getting your numbers but those aren't what the city published in it's budgets. They are available here: http://www.cityofjerseycity.com/pub-i ... 0&terms=transition+budget

Posted on: 2011/3/16 3:24
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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This is total BULLSHIT. I hate this city!

Posted on: 2011/3/16 3:00
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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I saw a document with these numbers:

AMOUNT TO BE RAISED BY TAXATION:

CY2011: $208, 650, 271
FY2010: $185, 058, 594
-------------------------------------------
Increase Raised: $23, 591, 677
--------------------------------------------

PROPERTY TAXES BILLED:
Calendar Year 2010: $210, 198, 899
Calendar Year 2011: $208, 650, 271 (proposed cap)
---------------------------------------------------------------
DECREASE IN MUNICIPAL TAXES: $1, 548, 628
--------------------------------------------------------------

Looks like its all how they interpret.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 2:27
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Frinjc wrote:
I have heard that cities like Cleveland found ways to protect some (!) of their resident interests by making bonds payments less of their priorities. I would be interested to hear your point of view on this.


Cleveland is in decline. The big industries that made Cleveland a major city have left. People have left the city, either for the suburbs or out of the region. They are forced to consider unseemly options such as debt deferrals and potential default.

We are not Cleveland. Our population grew. We sit next to the biggest pot of money on the planet. We have every advantage in the world. We don't need to screw over bondholders (although we do need to stop issuing additional debt.) We just need to formulate priorities and stick to them. Clean up the largess, patronage and all the other crony crap that fattens up the budget. Servicing our debt won't be a problem once we do the things we should have been doing from day one.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 1:33
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Thanks Steve, I must confess that I nearly fell for the mayor numbers. An increase of 13% will inevitably bring another round of reduced values and more tax appeals. In that process, the upcoming reval will just be a hand trying to catch a knife falling.

I have heard that cities like Cleveland found ways to protect some (!) of their resident interests by making bonds payments less of their priorities. I would be interested to hear your point of view on this.

Posted on: 2011/3/16 0:30
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Re: Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Thank you Steve for looking out not only for residents of your constituency but for all the residents of Jersey City.
Thank you for keeping us in the loop with things that may adversely affect us in the future.

Posted on: 2011/3/15 23:32
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Steven Fulop - Sharing Letter to Admin re: taxes
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Just keeping the public informed of a letter and attachment I sent to the administration earlier this afternoon. The attachment is here and the letter is pasted below.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Mayor Healy, Rosemary, and Jack

I had the chance to review the budget that the administration presented and I have some serious questions that I hope you can address tomorrow at the State of the City. To any reasonable person reviewing what you presented to the taxpayers at the caucus, what you stated to the residents clearly points to the fact that the administration was disingenuous at best and potentially downright untruthful with regard to taxes. The mayor stood at the caucus two weeks ago and handed a document accompanied with an untruthful press release sent out the following day characterizing "stable taxes? or as the mayor stated "no municipal tax increase this year". As any reasonable person reviews the numbers you presented this is just not an accurate statement. (review attachment from your budget)

What we can all agree to be factual are the numbers that the mayor is proposing in the document as presented. Just because you shift the billing around in such a way that the increase in your bill doesn't come at the same point in time of the budget year as it did the previous year is not the same as having stable taxes. You are making the claim that this budget is delivering "stable taxes" which is one factor that families in this city use to budget for their households. Misrepresenting this is dangerous. The budget you presented shows that proposed taxes for 2011 will increase more than 13% over the previous full-year budget. Regardless of when you choose to do it, taxes will have to increase significantly at some point in 2011 to raise the revenue you?ve budgeted. There is nothing "stable" about that.

I have taken the time to attach a spreadsheet to clearly illustrate my point. These numbers are taken directly out of the mayor's budget. The last full budget year was FY 2010 (column C). From any fair budgeting standpoint to tax payers the last full administration year of budgeting is the most accurate comparison to the next full budget year (column F as mayor proposed at the last caucus). That difference represents a very substantial tax increase ? 13%! - there is no other way to look at it. Even if one wanted to stretch budgetary practices and annualize what the administration used as "transition year budget" ? the current run rate for taxes - it still represents a substantial 7% tax increase if you annualize those 6 months.

The only conceivable way your statement of ?stable taxes? could be remotely true is if we put together a fictional tax year combining the second half of fiscal 2010 and the transition year. But for that to be true, there would have needed to be a massive tax bill in the second half of fiscal 2010 and a large DECREASE for the transition year ? and we know there have been no tax decreases. I am pointing this out in a broad manner to shed light on something that impacts people and goes to the heart of trust between the mayor and the council and tax payers. It hinders any working relationship going forward if anything the mayor states must be questioned as to whether it is true.

For the administration to represent that taxes are stable by fictionalizing history in such a selective way where half of one budget year and half of an entirely different budget year ? and even then misrepresenting the outcome - is an absolute farce and has the risk of blindsiding residents when the tax increase arrives.

I am happy to discuss at the caucus and I hope it can be clarified at the state of the city tomorrow

Steven

Posted on: 2011/3/15 20:47
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