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Another Good Letter about JC Fiscal Problems
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Here is another good letter about JC fiscal problems-


Vega Avoids Taking Blame


IN YOUR OPINION
Monday, March 06, 2006

Vega avoids taking blame

This letter is in response to Mariano Vega's letter. Mr. Vega responded to comments made by the Jimmy King's Civic Association.

Councilman Vega's letter tries to justify the tax increase as though city government has no control over certain costs. For instance, he lists $13 million increase in debt service and $6 million increase in the cost of pensions. Why didn't Mr. Vega include the cost of the police promotions? That is a budget line item that the city could control. I believe those promotions were made so retiring officers could enjoy higher pensions. Let's not forget Mayor Healy said 190 officers are retiring this year.

The pensions cost is not a surprise. All municipal and county governments expected that increase. It was a budget gimmick by former Gov. Whitman. Prudent governments put money aside for the expected increase.

Then Councilman Vega states that the City Council is able to find a way to restructure the city's debt service. Again, this is not a new item. How many times has Mr. Vega voted to refinance the city's debt? The debt has been refinanced so many times that it has lost its tax-exempt status.

Vega states Jersey City will receive additional revenue through prepayments of taxes from Gold Coast developers. That is a fancy way of saying the city will allow developers to prepay their tax abatement bill this year; however, that means next year the city will not receive any revenue! Our city has been practicing this gimmick for years - a reason for unstable taxes every year.

Next, the councilman comments on the water bill. He states he is not happy with the increases, but users must keep up with rising cost. He failed to say that we, not United Water, have bonded tens of millions to improve the water system. The bonds are paid for by taxpayers, not United Water. If the public is paying for the improvements as higher taxes in the form of bond indebtedness, then why are we paying higher water bills?

Many Hudson municipalities are plagued with high taxes. They must pay three budgets: county, municipal and board of education. Ironically, Jersey City should be one of the lowest tax municipalities because it only pays 13 percent of the school board cost which has been fixed for 17 years. Neighboring Hoboken and Bayonne pay 63 and 54 percent, respectively, of their schools' cost.

So why are taxes higher? Because our city government has continued to give tax abatements. Abatements are not ratables, they are contracts. Only ratables can stabilize the tax rate.

YVONNE BALCER

Posted on: 2006/3/6 15:06
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