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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Yvonne wrote:
Since my name was used, let me say according to the Hudson Board of Taxation, one-third of Jersey City is tax abated. Billions are off the ratable base when the County strikes the budget. If abatements work, why is the budget always late? Why are taxes unstable?
Yvonne



The budget is late because no one demands accountability of the people who are in charge of handing out our tax dollars - abated, in lieu or otherwise. What does that have to do with abatements?

There seems to be no oversight - at least no expectation of oversight. Is there no legal requirement for a budget to be submitted and ratified prior to the beginning of the budget year? That's the minimum in most every other city. (I'd say every city, but I'm sure there's an exception.)

Posted on: 2009/4/15 3:48
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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PHR - great post. Actually, I was mistaken - I was taking Yvonne\'s cue and considering abatements and PILOTs as the same thing (which the developer of my building did as well.) However, I am not complaining about paying more than someone else. Yes, I\'m appraised at what is likely to be a much higher rate than most others but I also know I have certainty over time (theoretically - I\'m not convinced that PILOTs won\'t be overturned in court some day before 2028.)

The biggest issue I have with Yvonne, and I guess you as well, is the notion that because the city doesn\'t use the money provided to them through PILOTs responsibly that somehow the PILOT itself is to blame. I\'m trying to think of an apt anology and what I\'m coming up with is blaming someone who works at a brewery for a death caused by a drunk driver.

Unless I\'m missing something (which is possible), I\'m not sure why I should be concerned that the county is not participating in the PILOT revenue. I wholeheartedly agree that the schools need to be adequately funded (I advocated as such in a previous post), whether or not I have children in the school system. Education is the cornerstone of an enlightened society and who wants to live in anything else? But is there something that prevents the city from applying revenue it receives via PILOT payments toward schools? Certainly the state is going to be looking increasingly to the city to fund its schools - why can\'t PILOT money be used?

I think you are trying to have it both ways on PILOTs - because property values have gone up (due to the higher value properties that were built under PILOTs), revaluations are likely to result and because the tax burden is uneven, property tax payers are going to fully bear the consequences. I get the general premise, but without the development that has happened over the recent past (from Newport onward), would there be a Jersey City worth arguing about?

I also agree that bitching on message boards doesn\'t solve anything. I have been so sickened by what I\'ve seen in JC over the past few years I\'ve lived here that I have gotten involved and am hoping to do more. As I talk to friends in other parts of the country, most of whom are very active politically and heavily involved in their local governments, and described how things work here they truly believe I\'m making up at least half of what I\'m telling them. We can all at the drop of a hat each name two dozen well-established problems/crimes involving our city government. And based on what the old-timers say, it seems as though that\'s been the case for as long as anyone can remember. WHY??? We do have to get out and do more than just vote - but voting is at least the right place to start.

And to everyone who votes April 21, ask yourself: Shouldn\'t bothering to show up for the most important vote associated with your office be the absolute minimum requirement to hold that office???
Quote:


PHResident wrote:

Yvonne, on the other hand, seems to be lumping all abatements together; deeming them all evil.

It is not that simple however. Paying property taxes not only supports the city, it also supports the county and the schools. Those with abatements are paying a portion of all three entities. Those with PILOTs, however, are not. In addition, those with abatements don?t get them without making significant improvement to their property; thus raising the assessed value and causing the taxes to go up. These are not people who have lived here twenty years and are paying minimal taxes on property that has skyrocketed in value simply because of its location. Yes there are plenty of people in Jersey City who fall in the later category, but not all. This is an issue that would be solved by a revaluation (which I?m actually all for).


So yes, T-bird, all of those units with PILOTs are becoming a burden to the rest of Jersey City residents. As the State continues to expect Jersey City residents to take on more of the burden of paying for its school system, it?s going to be all of us without PILOTs who take up the slack. And it?s not just going to be people who?ve live here forever and have ridiculously low taxes compared to the value of their property.

So on one hand you are correct in that those with PILOTs pump a great amount of money into the City of Jersey City. But you are also bringing up the property values, which is good on one hand, but could kill growth because it could cause everyone else without a PILOT to no longer be able to afford living here (including someone like me who currently lives relatively comfortably). And this is where Yvonne is correct.

She is simply pointing out that the City?s use of PILOTs, to continue to fill budget holes, is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It?s slight of hand maneuvers that are not based in reality, nor is it sustainable (and yes I know I mixed my metaphors).

Posted on: 2009/4/15 3:44
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Since my name was used, let me say according to the Hudson Board of Taxation, one-third of Jersey City is tax abated. Billions are off the ratable base when the County strikes the budget. If abatements work, why is the budget always late? Why are taxes unstable?
Yvonne

Posted on: 2009/4/15 3:26
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 year
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Quote:

bjay wrote:

If I vote no, is that a protest vote against the waste in the budget? If I vote yes, am I endorsing the full budget? Or is the vote meaningless because the state will impose the budget on the city anyway?


It's meaningless. The State will impose a budget.

Posted on: 2009/4/15 2:10
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 year
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OK, I just got my absentee ballot. There is a public question to be voted on: Yes or No: "RESOLVED, that there should be raised for General Funds $93 million for the ensuing School Year."

That's a vague question. I suppose what it really is asking is whether I approve raising $93 million in additional property taxes, right?

If I vote no, is that a protest vote against the waste in the budget? If I vote yes, am I endorsing the full budget? Or is the vote meaningless because the state will impose the budget on the city anyway?

I'm not asking for more comments on property tax vs. PILOT, reval vs. no reval. What actually happens if the Public Question is voted down?

What do the candidates actually have to say on this Public Question? The only candidates I ever heard comment publicly on any issue were those interviewed on Mia Scanga's television program. And I don't recall anyone speaking on this issue.

I'm trying to be an educated voter. Suggestions appreciated.

Posted on: 2009/4/15 1:56
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 year
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Im suprised that theres any money left in the school budget considering all these "business trips" they go on. For example a few months ago I hear they all went to Atlantic City. More to come, keep posted...

Posted on: 2009/4/8 22:12
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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murican wrote:
A school budget has to include not only money for direct education of each student, but also funds to create community supports for each student and their parents (day care, afterschool centers, homework help, job and career assistance, health and wellness centers, support of children with learning, physical and emotional disabilities, etc.)

I do not dispute that there is waste and graft in the school system, but if these funds could be properly spent for the students and families who desperately need them, our school district would be vastly improved.


Ok, then how much should JC spend to get a quality school system? $30,000 per student, $40,000, $50,000, $100,000? What's your number? Or is it really not about the amount of money being spent but how it's being spent?

Posted on: 2009/4/8 19:55
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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If I didn't like Dan Levin so much , I would say PHResident for Mayor based on his/her post. But, please PHResident run for something!


On the other hand in answer to Stani's post Quote:

stani wrote:

I don't think most people would disagree with you that we have to educate our children (and pay for their education). The problem is that $20,000+ per student is an awful lot of money. And I think most of us would say we, the city as a whole, are not getting enough value for that money. In many other municipalities in this state "proper" public education is delivered for much less.


Reread PHResident's post

Quote:

PHResident wrote:

We have bad schools, because we think it?s not our problem. ?They?re not my children; it?s the parents? responsibility.? But a lot of these parents were never taught responsibility themselves, so they can?t pass on what they don?t possess themselves. You can?t pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don?t even know you own boots


That is the problem, we have a school district like most urban districts in which each school may have children and parents who speak at least 30-50 different languages, in which parents are working multiple jobs for very little income, and in which neither parents nor children have adequate health care. In many of our neighborhoods, there is very little community support for parents and children. (If there are supports, many parents do not know that they exist or are available.) All of this creates an environment in which learning is very difficult.

A school budget has to include not only money for direct education of each student, but also funds to create community supports for each student and their parents (day care, afterschool centers, homework help, job and career assistance, health and wellness centers, support of children with learning, physical and emotional disabilities, etc.)

I do not dispute that there is waste and graft in the school system, but if these funds could be properly spent for the students and families who desperately need them, our school district would be vastly improved.

Posted on: 2009/4/8 19:32
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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PHResident wrote:

Paying for Jersey City schools is all of our collective responsibility whether we have children in those schools or not. Fortunately my building has never been on fire, but I still pay for the cost of running Fire Department. It?s paying now for something I might need in the future.

And the same is true for education. Failure to properly educate young people today has consequences for everyone, not just parents. We cannot cordon ourselves off from those the poor and uneducated effectively enough to assure we are secure. It doesn?t work that way no matter how much we wish we could.



I don't think most people would disagree with you that we have to educate our children (and pay for their education). The problem is that $20,000+ per student is an awful lot of money. And I think most of us would say we, the city as a whole, are not getting enough value for that money. In many other municipalities in this state "proper" public education is delivered for much less.

Posted on: 2009/4/8 17:40
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 year
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A Hall of Fame post.

Posted on: 2009/4/8 17:26
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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I think there is a bit of a disconnect here between what is perceived and what is reality. First and foremost, there are abatements, and then there are PILOTs. Abatements are a 25% decrease in regular property taxes, over a 5 year period, given to those who make significant improvement to their properties. It is a way for municipalities to encourage residents to improve their property. These are also given to small developments that are either new or rehabilitations of older properties. Simply put, it is the same tax formula used for everyone else; minus 25%. So if your property is already abated and the taxes in the city rise 40%, then your taxes rise by 40%. Yes, you still pay 25% less than the fully assessed value, but you do not escape any increases.

PILOTs (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) are a whole other animal. These are deals (where as taxes are kept at a steady level over a long term) struck with large developers as incentives to get them to build in less than desirable areas. But that is not how they are used in Jersey City. Since city government is essentially one great big patronage machine, our elected officials continually have to find new ways to keep the Ponzi scheme that is our local government afloat. And it is a Ponzi scheme because it can?t sustain itself. When the city continues to bloat its payroll with relatives of elected officials and continue such practices as handing out promotions like they are candy (which adds vast sums of money that the city has to pay towards pension funds), they have to find ways of increasing revenue to keep the whole system from collapsing upon itself.

PILOTs have been that answer in the last few years. The city has offered developers PILOTs on all large scale projects whether they meet the intention of the law or not. It is not illegal what the city is doing, but it is not how the program was intended. Since, the city gets 95% of all moneys collected via PILOTs (5% goes to the county and none to the schools), they have chosen this route to pay for the ever increasing annual budget deficits.

T-bird seems, at least to me, be suggesting that the tax payers are divided into two camps. First there are those with abatements who pay a lot of money that goes directly to the city. In this the city makes out fairly well and the taxpayer is assured of a fairly even tax bill over the long haul. The city loves it, of course, because they get the lion?s share of the revenue and the taxpayer can live with the relatively large bill because he or she knows what it?s going to be upfront and that it will stay that way.

The second scenario, as I?m understanding it from his or her posts, is that those without abatements are sort of freeloaders who pay lesser taxes on property that has elevated immensely in value over the last few years. I?m gathering that there is some resentment over the fact that Jersey City hasn?t had a revaluation in 20+ years and that there is a feeling that he or she is unfairly burdened by a relatively large tax bill.

Yvonne, on the other hand, seems to be lumping all abatements together; deeming them all evil.

It is not that simple however. Paying property taxes not only supports the city, it also supports the county and the schools. Those with abatements are paying a portion of all three entities. Those with PILOTs, however, are not. In addition, those with abatements don?t get them without making significant improvement to their property; thus raising the assessed value and causing the taxes to go up. These are not people who have lived here twenty years and are paying minimal taxes on property that has skyrocketed in value simply because of its location. Yes there are plenty of people in Jersey City who fall in the later category, but not all. This is an issue that would be solved by a revaluation (which I?m actually all for).

I completely understand feeling some resentment about paying higher taxes than people who own property that is worth far more than mine. I live in a wood frame building that was built in the 1880s. In 2002, the property consisted of 10 rental units and the annual tax bill was just over $12,000. In 2003, the building was converted into 9 condo units and thus the city was allowed by law to reassess each unit individually. We purchased a 1000 sq ft unit in 2003 and our property tax bill that year was right around $8,000. Mind you, nothing significantly changed on the property, it just now fell under new tax laws. As I stated, in 2003 the tax bill for the entire building was just over $12,000 and in 2003 the tax bill for all the units combined was just over $53,000 and nothing changed but the way that the building could be assessed by the city. I know people who own an entire brick row house that pay around $2,000 per year. If they were to sell that property today, they would likely make a profit that I would never see, but they are still evaluated on rates set 20 some odd years ago.

But the amount I pay, no matter how inequitable I think it is, has nothing to do with how that money is distributed. Abated properties and those without abatements are supporting the city, the county and the schools. Those with PILOTs are not. So when the State looks at Jersey City and determines that property values and income levels have risen greatly, and they are still footing over 80% of the cost Jersey City schools, they are rightfully going to begin to question why? And once they realize there really is no good reason (the city giving out PILOTs is not a legitimate reason as that?s not the States problem), they are going to alter their formulas. And that?s what is beginning to happen now.

So yes, T-bird, all of those units with PILOTs are becoming a burden to the rest of Jersey City residents. As the State continues to expect Jersey City residents to take on more of the burden of paying for its school system, it?s going to be all of us without PILOTs who take up the slack. And it?s not just going to be people who?ve live here forever and have ridiculously low taxes compared to the value of their property.

So on one hand you are correct in that those with PILOTs pump a great amount of money into the City of Jersey City. But you are also bringing up the property values, which is good on one hand, but could kill growth because it could cause everyone else without a PILOT to no longer be able to afford living here (including someone like me who currently lives relatively comfortably). And this is where Yvonne is correct.

She is simply pointing out that the City?s use of PILOTs, to continue to fill budget holes, is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It?s slight of hand maneuvers that are not based in reality, nor is it sustainable (and yes I know I mixed my metaphors).

Yes the budget for the school system is horrific, but it is just a symptom of the culture that pervades Jersey City and even Hudson County as a whole. You can?t look at them piecemeal; they are all intertwined. So sure, those with PILOTs are paying a lot in taxes, but the way that system is set up is not helping the overall situation. It has been simply keeping City officials from dealing with reality; until now.

Paying for Jersey City schools is all of our collective responsibility whether we have children in those schools or not. Fortunately my building has never been on fire, but I still pay for the cost of running Fire Department. It?s paying now for something I might need in the future.

And the same is true for education. Failure to properly educate young people today has consequences for everyone, not just parents. We cannot cordon ourselves off from those the poor and uneducated effectively enough to assure we are secure. It doesn?t work that way no matter how much we wish we could.

We, as a society, have to let go of the ?if only? mentality. We don?t get to live life based on how we think it should be, we have to live it based on how it is. It is the only way we are ever going to effectively change those aspects that don?t work. Expecting people to suddenly behave in ways that they don?t know how, simply because we say that they are supposed to, doesn?t work. Just because I am aware that there are other ways of living doesn?t make that my reality. I hear Spanish spoken around me all of the time, but that doesn?t mean I know how to speak it myself. I wasn?t raised in a Spanish speaking household nor immersed in a Spanish speaking culture. Therefore the only way for me to learn Spanish is to go to a place where that is all they speak, or have someone teach me.

We have bad schools, because we think it?s not our problem. ?They?re not my children; it?s the parents? responsibility.? But a lot of these parents were never taught responsibility themselves, so they can?t pass on what they don?t possess themselves. You can?t pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don?t even know you own boots.

If we as citizens don?t like the way things work, then we have to accept things as they are and then get involved in fixing it. Nothing will ever change by simply pointing out how things aren?t going the way they should and railing against it. It doesn?t matter if things are going the way we want them to or not. We have to deal with it as it is and work from that basis to change it. And that is going to require us all to look at the whole and change the paradigm. Bitch about it all you want, but until we all get involved, on all levels (including seeing ourselves as partially responsible for altering the lives of children that are not our own), then nothing will change.

Do what you?ve always done; get what you?ve always got.

Posted on: 2009/4/8 16:48
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Jersey City ed board told to use original budget

by Ken Thorbourne
The Jersey Journal
Tuesday April 07, 2009

With the Jersey City school board missing the state-mandated deadline to adopt a budget for the upcoming school year, county Superintendent of Schools Timothy Brennan confirmed this week he is imposing the budget the board introduced in March.

In broad strokes, the introduced budget and the revised spending plan the board failed to adopt Thursday are much the same. Both call for a total of $629.8 million in spending, with local taxpayers picking up $93 million of the tab.

But the details of two spending plans are very different. For example, the introduced budget -- which the district is now stuck with -- calls for eliminating 225 positions, 135 of which are in the area of special education, said board member Sue Mack.

The revised budget, which was defeated in a 4-1-2 vote, restored many of those positions, particularly in special education, Mack said. The budget needed five affirmative votes to pass.
"The irony is that now we are going to have programs that we (the board) decided aren't needed and positions that we think are essential are going to be eliminated," Mack said.
Friday was the deadline to adopt a budget.

Board officials said it's not likely many staff members will actually be put out of work, but will be reassigned; and a $23 million shortfall in the budget will be coped with mainly through attrition and a hiring freeze.

Board members Mack, William DeRosa, Angel Valentin and Peter Donnelly voted for the revised budget Thursday. Former mayor and board member Anthony Cucci voted against it. And former mayor Gerald McCann and Frances Thompson abstained. Terry Dehere and Ed Cheatam missed the meeting.

McCann and Cucci led the opposition, saying they objected to the state-imposed hike in the school tax levy from $86 million to $93 million.

"They (the board) did not certify a budget, so it reverts back to the original budget that was reviewed three weeks ago," Brennan said. "That's the budget they submitted to the state for approval."

Board chair DeRosa said he was particularly disappointed by the vote since the district only recently regained control of its affairs in the areas of governance and finance.

"Here was an opportunity to stand up to the plate ... and what did we do? We said here is a hot potato, you (Brennan) take it."

The $93 million school tax levy will be put up for a public vote on April 21, the same day school board elections are held. But even if the public rejects the levy, the state is not likely to permit much of a change, Brennan said.

Posted on: 2009/4/8 3:45
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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GrovePath wrote:
As everyone should know - neither the Mayor nor the council have ANY control over the school budget -- which is our main problem because it is well over 600 million and it dwarfs the city's budget.

I agree that the bloated school budget really needs to be reigned in - but Healy is not in charge of it in any way!!


True, but they have great influence on the BOE through the fact that a large proportion of the tiny number of votes cast in the BOE election are of the army of municipal workers.

Like I've said, last time 1300 was all it took to win a seat. Turn out your friends and neighbors for the BOE election and/or volunteer for candidates who will take on the budget.

Posted on: 2009/4/8 0:09
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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As everyone should know - neither the Mayor nor the council have ANY control over the school budget -- which is our main problem because it is well over 600 million and it dwarfs the city's budget.

I agree that the bloated school budget really needs to be reigned in - but Healy is not in charge of it in any way!!

Posted on: 2009/4/7 23:19
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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shakatah wrote:
So in light of the seeming lack of ability of anyone to light a fire under the city government's rear; aside from doing your best to make sure your rear is not totally exposed, what can concerned citizens do? Dont say vote, that's a given. What else can a few concerned citizens do to effectuate change?


Get your friends and neighbors to vote. Volunteer for a critical campaign, or donate to it, even if it's not your ward. All the protesting in the world means nothing to the deaf ears now in Mayors office and many of the councils who feel their offices are safe even as their cronies loot the city coffers. We need to get them out.

Posted on: 2009/4/7 21:55
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 year
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+1 to Brewster and T-Bird

However, I find it interesting that this entire thread has been focused on the inputs to the education system (money) but nothing has been said about the output. I daresay that most of us would be happy to accept the school budget if the system was actually educating someone. Other school districts have much higher graduation rates at half the cost. What is being done to improve the result that our money pays for?

Posted on: 2009/4/7 21:51
I'd go over 12 percent for that
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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So in light of the seeming lack of ability of anyone to light a fire under the city government's rear; aside from doing your best to make sure your rear is not totally exposed, what can concerned citizens do? Dont say vote, that's a given. What else can a few concerned citizens do to effectuate change?

Posted on: 2009/4/7 21:48
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Yvonne,

I can accept that we see the world differently and will never agree on the abatement issue. But when you say
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Yvonne wrote:
-1/3 of Jersey City is tax abated. 1/3 of the city is a burden to the rest of the city.


you are being incredibly asinine. "Burden"? Do you know what people with "abatements" pay in PILOT payments annually? I'm not going to post mine on JCList, but I'll happily compare with you offline what that number is and based on the length of time you've lived in JC I am confident my payment is well in excess of yours. Probably a multiple of yours. Does that make me a better person or give me more rights? Of course not. But to call someone a "burden" when you just don't grasp the basic concepts you are trying to debate is idiotic.

We can split hairs about what abatements do to the schools (again - money is fungible. If the city decides to piss abatement dollars away and not use the money wisely, how is that the fault of the person making PILOT payments?) but don't pretend that the abated are getting a free ride. Do the harder work of trying to bring school spending under control and hold the board and the city accountable for their malfeasance rather than throwing bombs at your (innocent) neighbors.

Posted on: 2009/4/7 15:59
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Brewster-Popularity doesn't concern me-1/3 of Jersey City is tax abated. 1/3 of the city is a burden to the rest of the city. During the early 1970's I voted for the state income tax because, we the public was promised that money would finance public schools. This link reminds me of my college course on "Black History." One of my professors require the students to read "letters to the editors" published in the 1850's on the rights of slave owners to own slaves. Unfortunately, they didn't see slaves as people and some people here do not understand the tax burden placed on non- abated property owners. They are being taxed higher due to developement or they are losing state aid due to development. We have comments, they could sell or have a reverse mortgage. Everyone has an obligation to support public schools and it doesn't matter if you use the schools. I pay taxes on projects I will never use such as a bridge in the Mid-West.
Yvonne

Posted on: 2009/4/7 15:41
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Quote:

G_Elkind wrote:
Quote:
Steve Fulop proposed some of the PILOT's be earmarked for the schools, but was shot down, naturally.


Steve's proposal to earmark 5% for the school budget was a bad idea and fundamentally flawed from the start, and certainly nothing one might properly characterize as abatement reform -- a topic for a separate thread.

It didn't address the real fundamental problem -- the expense side of the equation, which almost nobody seems to question. Besides the amount of revenue that theoretically could have been generated by his proposal was so minuscule, one could characterize it as a rounding error when compared to the total $600+ million school budget.

The problem is neither abatements, per se, nor is a reval the real solution.

Taxpayer fairness starts with getting a handle on out of control budgets -- line-by-line.

All the best.

Geoff


Geoff, there's no doubt you're right about the expenses being the key, but the failed proposal illustrates how even the slightest lip service to funding the schools on our own is off the table since it would divert funds from the city hall trough.

Sadly, barring Healy being photographed frolicking with hookers, it looks like he's going to be re-elected (and even that might not do it, it's JC after all). So how do YOU think we the people can expose the spending side of this equation in the face of a uninterested mayor and council?

All the stories of gaming retirement pay in every city agency, of bad contracts, of the Parking Authority so bloated that it could lose money, they all seem to never come to any tangible change. Although outside the budget, the story of MUA auditors being fired and the report buried seems emblematic of the "business as usual" all across the board. There just seems no traction for any spending reform.

G-P, I think vouchers are a bad idea for the schools. They'll simply drain off the students whose families didn't have quite enough cash for private schools, leaving a poorer student body, but doing nothing to actually cut the fat out of the system.

Posted on: 2009/4/7 15:22
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Quote:

G_Elkind wrote:
...The problem is neither abatements, per se, nor is a reval the real solution.

Taxpayer fairness starts with getting a handle on out of control budgets -- line-by-line.


I agree, and I would go further and say that the school budget is the main problem because it is so large (well over 600 million - dwarfing the city budget) and it needs to be reigned in! In Newark, Corey Booker is on record supporting a school voucher program - maybe something like that should be tried here.

Posted on: 2009/4/7 15:03
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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To Brewster, G_Elkind and T-Bird, thanks for the thoughtful discussion on this very important issue. I hope this thread is read by all jclisters.

Posted on: 2009/4/7 14:21
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Quote:
Steve Fulop proposed some of the PILOT's be earmarked for the schools, but was shot down, naturally.


Steve's proposal to earmark 5% for the school budget was a bad idea and fundamentally flawed from the start, and certainly nothing one might properly characterize as abatement reform -- a topic for a separate thread.

It didn't address the real fundamental problem -- the expense side of the equation, which almost nobody seems to question. Besides the amount of revenue that theoretically could have been generated by his proposal was so minuscule, one could characterize it as a rounding error when compared to the total $600+ million school budget.

The problem is neither abatements, per se, nor is a reval the real solution.

Taxpayer fairness starts with getting a handle on out of control budgets -- line-by-line.

All the best.

Geoff

Posted on: 2009/4/7 7:05
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Yvonne, the numbers aren't in you favor. As was pointed out, the tax load of an abated waterfront apartment is far higher than anything a longtime resident of a non abated property is paying. Yes, I'm saying seniors living in a pile of money need to part with some to pay their fair share, radical as that may seem. There is no free lunch, if you're sitting on valuable taxable property, you need to pay your taxes. If you bought it cheap years ago, you need to cough up a fraction of that equity. Otherwise you create the "taxpaying class" of newcomers, and the "freeloading class" of longtimers.

The abatement system was abused by politicians voted into office again and again. It was crack for a bloated gov't of cronies and pay to play to fund their games while the state paid for educating the kids. But we can't legally revoke those deal as far as I know. we need to work around them. We need to vote for BOE members who, rather than being teachers, ex-mayors, housewives or basketball players, are financially sophisticated and who know how to dig through the school budget audits. And we need a council who will stop rubber stamping the nonsense.

I'm disturbed at this conflating of 2 separate almost unrelated issues, abatements and the reval. The reval would be needed even if we weren't in deep fiscal doo-doo, in fact the reval (legally executed) does not raise the revenue. The idea of putting off a reval because of some people being losers, even though an equal number will be winners, is insane. The system as set up requires it or the inequality gets out of control, as it is now. Only political cowardice in the face of arguments like you're making has put it off a decade. We can't afford to put it off any longer, it's irresponsible.

Perhaps there should be (if there isn't already) a hardship appeal for someone with inadequate income or equity to finance their assessment, but the reval needs to happen. It's routine maintenance of the fiscal house, which we've deferred till the roof is leaking. Putting it off indefinitely is like putting off fixing that roof, it only get worse and harder to fix.

Edit: TBird +1! Lets start with the BOE in 2 weeks, let's get this election on people's screens as the 1st step to better govt. Candidate Tom Wilen says the 2 year old KPMG schools audit shows $200M a year essentially unaccounted for, kinda like bags of cash in Bagdad. Lets end this crap!

Posted on: 2009/4/7 2:43
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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+ 1 G_Elkind. The interesting thing to me about this conversation is that it seems to fall into the same rut all such debates about Jersey City do: creeping incrementalism. If you accept that things are the way they are and you can only move so many degrees one way or the other from the status quo, you are never going to have substantive change. This city is run along the lines of what you would expect to find in Ecuador or Bolivia. Only that in Ecuador or Bolivia, after being victimized by a thoroughly corrupt regime for several years, people take to the streets banging together pots and pans and storm the capitol and often don't leave until the criminals have fled the country. Here? As long as we have enough money left over at the end of the month for premium cable and drinking money on the weekends, it's all good.

Our hefe doles out big raises and bloats staffing as though he is sole master of his domain - and he is, because when push comes to shove, we'll move on from this thread tomorrow and debate which new restaurant has better deserts or how horrible it is that GrovePath cuts and pastes the newspaper every day (which I actually enjoy.) We all bitch and moan about how Jersey City is and accept as inevitable that the mayor will self-deal and run his own little empire of personal favors, but that's as far as it really goes. How is it remotely possible that the city budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009 isn't even INTRODUCED until Feb. 9, 2009 and not approved until March 13, 2009??? All sorts of raises are handed out, promotions given and no one is accountable because it's all done before the budget is approved. At the same time, responsible cities governed by professionals are laying folks off, furloughing people and cutting expenses - it's even happening in cities that are having elections this year!

Debates about abatements only helps perpetuate the real problems this city faces. By focusing on the revenue side and bickering over who among us pays their fair share, you are in effect saying that the expense side is justified. Do we need a reval or do we need to take a hard look at expenses and demand an end to the embedded corruption that is taken as given around here? I, for one, would like to see Jersey City become more than just a punchline.

Posted on: 2009/4/7 2:03
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Let me understand your point, it is OK to subsidize a developer who receives a tax abatement, but seniors should sell their homes or do a reverse mortgage. The problem with this logic, what about people under 65? The non abated property owner do not have the income to buy a tax abated condo on the waterfront, but by law they are required to pay taxes. You refuse to acknowledge how the system works, school funding is based on the wealth of a community. As more residents move into tax abated condos, the non tax abated property is required to make up the difference. The state gave more money to the Board of Ed when the waterfront was not developed.
Yvonne

Posted on: 2009/4/7 1:30
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Quote:

GnomeGeneral wrote:
" if I am paying 10K in taxes to the city in annual property taxes for a 700 sf. condo on the waterfront and you are paying $5K for a nice 4 family worth over a million a couple blocks away. Who is really subsidizing whom?"

+1


+2

But there is a problem that $0 of that waterfront tax, (which is not RE tax, but PILOT payment in lieu of taxes) goes to the schools, or for that matter, the county. Steve Fulop proposed some of the PILOT's be earmarked for the schools, but was shot down, naturally.

As for sob stories of fixed income property owners unable to pay their taxes after a reval, please take that off the table. Maybe 20 years ago the reverse mortgage wasn't yet developed, but today a senior can reverse mortgage that house they bought for $20k that's now worth $1m, and slowly extract cash to live on and pay the taxes. In a historically normal RE market the appreciation will generally exceed the taxes. They want all that new equity AND the old low taxes? Sorry, no.


Long thread about reval

Posted on: 2009/4/6 23:07
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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It's easy to lose sight of the core issue when discussing tax abatements and their impact on the school and city budgets.

In simple terms, the real problem is that both the city and school budgets have become too big.

The city got hooked on abatements as it redirected tax revenue intended for the schools, directly to the city. It has become a convenient Ponzi scheme to fill budgetary shortfalls on the city budget side of the equation. (Often the bum's rush to get abatements approved and to accelerate the payments resulted in fast tracking development projects, often at the expense of proper review and community interests.) On the other side of the coin, the city didn't worry much about the lost revenue to the school budget, as the State was essentially making up the shortfall. Well the game's about up.

Even if we could eliminate all abatements today, we'd more or less only be moving money from one bucket back to another. Again, while spreading the tax burden more equitably across the 100% of tax base of what's currently abated and non-abated properties is conceptually more fair and the right thing to do as a matter of tax policy, the real fiscal problem will persist.

Budget expenditures are growing faster than our ability to fund them. What should be of real concern is that the former continues to grow while the latter is actually contracting. Not good news in either the city or school budgets.

There are two sides to every budget -- revenue and expenses.

My two questions to all candidates and pundits alike on this site, are the following:

1. Expenses: Where's the pork (expenses) that need to be cut or economized in both the city and school budgets? What policies or areas of the budget need to be examined, trimmed or eliminated to reduce costs?

2. Revenue: What new revenue sources can be developed that would begin to take some of the burden off the residential taxpayer? If you wanted to eliminate abatements, how would you recommend we do it? A cold turkey or Nancy Reagan - just say no- approach to abatements does not address the real- issue of revenue replacement that would be necessary if we were to eliminate abatements.

It's a zero sum game at the end of the day. If you want to kill abatements entirely, you've got to be able to step up to the plate and offer either some combination of expense reductions and/or revenue enhancements to maintain the status quo.

I'm tired of paying more taxes and not seeing a real commensurate improvement in the delivery of city services and in the quality of education our schools offer. I'm also tired of others not paying their fair share, but when is the discussion on this board going to get real?

Posted on: 2009/4/6 22:44
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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" if I am paying 10K in taxes to the city in annual property taxes for a 700 sf. condo on the waterfront and you are paying $5K for a nice 4 family worth over a million a couple blocks away. Who is really subsidizing whom?"

+1

Posted on: 2009/4/6 21:51
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Re: Vote drops ed budget in state's hands - JC Board of Ed fails to pass a budget for the 2009-10 ye
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Quote:

GnomeGeneral wrote:
"We ALL live here, so the burden of city administration costs should be fairly shared among us."
Most owners of newer or renovated properties, including myself, would NEVER send our kids to a public school here. Let the parents of children who do attend schools here take on that burden.


I think I said that, and do believe that as residents of community we have a responsibility to do our part. Using your logic of only paying for services you use would be chaos, not a community.

Posted on: 2009/4/6 21:49
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