City Council covers a lot of ground
Budgets, taxes, unions top the list
by Rory Pasquariello
Reporter staff writer
May 23, 2018 | 2324 views | 0 0 comments | 318 318 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bayonne City Council introduced a $138.8 million budget, passed a labor peace agreement, exempted nonprofits from fees for using Don Ahern Veterans Stadium, and rejected bids to bring back the city’s mini golf course.
The Bayonne City Council introduced a $138.8 million budget, passed a labor peace agreement, exempted nonprofits from fees for using Don Ahern Veterans Stadium, and rejected bids to bring back the city’s mini golf course.
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In its first meeting since the Bayonne City Council’s re-election on May 8, the council had a busy agenda. Among the matters addressed: It introduced a $138.8 million 2018 budget that includes a 2.6 percent tax increase from last year; voted to pass a labor peace agreement with hotels; exempted nonprofits from fees for using Don Ahern Veterans Stadium; and rejected bids to bring back the city’s mini golf course.

The budget, which requires state approval before the council votes on it at its June meeting, is $1.94 million more than last year.

City officials say that the increase is mostly due to increased pension liabilities, which is $1.35 million this year, up from $282K in 2017, and $484K in 2016.

The tax increase comes a month after the Bayonne Board of Education voted to increase property taxes by 2.87 percent to help fund a $130.7 million 2018-2019 school year. School officials said the tax hike was due to increased costs, mostly in healthcare, which rose by 13.2 percent over last year.

Animal control

The council voted at April’s meeting to discontinue the city’s animal control contract with NJ Animal Control and Rescue, which the city contracted in 2014, in favor of Liberty Humane Society (LHS).Liberty Humane was expected to take over the responsibility of responding to animal control calls and sheltering those animals at its Jersey City shelter at a cost of $7,075 per month starting May 15.

But the change hasn’t yet come to fruition. According to Bayonne Law Director John Coffey III, the contract between the city and LHS is finalized on the city’s end, but is still being hammered out and will likely be voted on at the June meeting. Until then, NJ Animal Control and Rescue will continue providing animal control services to Bayonne.

“LHS and the city took our time determining the terms of the contract,” said Coffey. “We dropped this in their lap really quickly. They need some ramp-up time. They need time to hire people and purchase equipment.”

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“We didn’t want to make these sports more unaffordable and increase the burden on the parents.” – Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski

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Exempting nonprofits

Many sports organizations use the municipally owned Don Aherns Veterans Stadium for a modest fee paid to the city. But residents have been concerned about some of those nonprofits increasing the cost of their services when using the stadium, so the city decided that exempting those nonprofits might alleviate the issue.

“We didn’t want to make these sports more unaffordable and increase the burden on the parents,” said Bayonne City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski. “The organizations are passing it onto the kids, which wasn’t the objective at all.”

Some have expressed dissatisfaction with any fees the city charges for using the stadium, but officials say that such an arrangement is unfeasible.

“People say, oh it’s a turf field, but there is maintenance on it,” said Ashe-Nadrowski. “The lights go on, the bathrooms have to get cleaned, there’s a cost to it.”

Hotel construction

The city passed a labor peace agreement for hotels. A labor peace agreement ensures that union labor will not strike, thus slowing the progress of construction. This agreement applies only to developments that have PILOTS (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes). The Alessi Group is set to develop a Hilton hotel at South Cove Commons. According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the city is expecting another hotel to come to the former Military Ocean Terminal Base.

Labor peace agreements benefit the municipal government when developers agrees to make payments based on revenue from the project. If there’s a labor dispute and construction is slowed, the revenue generated from the PILOT would decrease.

According to the state statute passed in 2010, “Labor peace agreements make possible legally enforceableguarantees that projects will be carried out in an orderly and timely manner, without strikes, lockouts or slowdowns.”

Rory Pasquariello can be reached at roryp@hudsonreporter.com.

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