Dawn Zimmer and I have been working to control Hoboken’s budget since before we were elected to the council. We join a long line of citizen activists who understood that the only sustainable way to cut taxes was to reduce spending. This week, years of effort continued to bear fruit, as we again made historic progress with Hoboken's 2012 budget. New Jersey’s “paper of record,” The Star Ledger, recognized that achievement when it wrote: “In a 5 to 4 vote, the Hoboken City Council passed its calendar budget that drops the tax levy 17 percent from last year's [actually prior year’s] figures, putting the mile square city on top of the state for reducing taxes.”
We are proud of our record in cutting taxes. But we are just as proud of the way we did it. Honestly. Sustainably. No tricks or gimmicks. We cut taxes while preserving needed services and continuing to reserve 3.6 percent of the budget for unexpected costs. All achieved in the face of unrelenting obstructionism by minority council members Mason, Occhipinti, Russo and Castellano. Minority members understand that the city’s fiscal success is their political catastrophe. That’s why they worked so hard to kill the HUMC hospital privatization which would have cost the city dearly in reduced services, loss of jobs, and financial and economic disaster. These four obstructionists failed in blocking the sale, but did manage to block a refinancing of Parking Utility bonds to the tune of $4 million which would have further shored up our reserves and provided additional tax relief in a responsible manner.
We persevered through the budget process in accordance with state statutes. We conducted open and transparent budget workshops. We made well thought out amendments to the introduced budget. And we passed a responsible budget which will provide for sound regeneration of surplus savings in future years, while preserving needed services and providing the most tax relief in the state. Many thanks to Mayor Zimmer and her team, to my council colleagues, and to our many supporters. Working together we stayed the course and got the job done.
Hoboken has a lot to be proud of.
Peter H. Cunningham
5th Ward City Councilman