HOBOKEN – On Thursday, four council people who are opponents of Mayor Dawn Zimmer declined to attend Thursday night’s special council meeting. Ultimately, the meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum.
The council members cited various reasons for declining to attend (see earlier breaking news below).
Zimmer responded in a press release Thursday night: “Tonight’s council meeting was the second opportunity for the City Council to vote on two different alternatives for paying our firefighters the terminal leave they have earned and we have an obligation to pay. Terminal leave is not salary, nor is it pension cost, as it has been incorrectly described. It is a retirement benefit based upon number of years of service. It is not a current operating cost attributable to the year in which it is paid and therefore the State permits for this cost to be spread out over five years for budget purposes. Taking advantage of this option requires the city to finance the cost with the use of short term five year notes so that the firefighters can be paid immediately upon retirement.”
She added, “Spreading the cost out in this way protects taxpayers from the unfair burden that would otherwise result when, as this year, an exceptionally large number of retirements occur in one year. The City Council was fully aware when they voted to introduce the budget that terminal leave would be financed using the legally available five year option. Council Members Castellano, Mason, Occhipinti, and Russo have indicated that they believe that the decision not to burden taxpayers unnecessarily this year causes the budget to be ‘underfunded.’ While this is not correct, the budget is now in the hands of the City Council, and it is within their power to include the amounts in full in this year's budget. Doing so will require an otherwise unnecessary increase in the tax levy. “
For more, see this weekend’s Hoboken Reporter.