However, they did vote on an ordinance that would eliminate the positions of fire and police chief in the city, instead bringing both departments under a public safety director.
At the meeting, Corporation Counsel Steven Kleinman read an e-mail from Susan Jacobucci, the state's director of the Division of Local Government Services, regarding the fact that the city is now under state financial supervision because of its financial problems.
In the e-mail, Jacobucci told the city that they were to not to engage in "certain financial obligations" like hiring new employees, entering into contracts, or making any new appointments within the city government until the completion of a state review.
This makes the state the de facto business administrator for the city.
City finance specialist Katheryn Kinney said she doesn't expect to see a business administrator appointed by the state until mid-August.
The council, with Kleinman's guidance, had to parse the agenda to avoid engaging in any of the actions set forth by the state in the e-mail.
Fire, police chief may be eliminated
Some worried that an ordinance amending the Public Safety department's table of organization was borderline infringement of the state directive, but Kleinman and Kinney said it would be beneficial to hear it for first reading due its time-sensitive nature.
A "table of organization" is a list of the number of chiefs, sergeants, and other positions that should exist in a city's police or fire department.
After hearing from Kleinman and Kinney, a majority of the council decided to vote to introduce the ordinance. If passed again after public discussion at a second and third reading, the changes include the elimination of the police and fire chief positions.
The cuts would result in Public Safety Director Bill Bergin directly overseeing both departments, even though the council also requested from Kleinman at the meeting a legal clarification on the validity of Bergin's employment.
The existing chiefs both happened to retire this past Monday, and the departments are being run by acting chiefs.
Several public safety union representatives petitioned the council during the public portion of the meeting.
Part of their request was to ask the council not to eliminate the chief positions, and another part was to lobby for ongoing contract negotiations.
Police Lt. Ken Ferrante said that the council would also have to hire a police director to be the sole head of the department, if they eliminated the chief position.
Leaders of the pack
At the meeting, 6th Ward Councilman Angelo "Nino" Giacchi was elected president of the council for the coming fiscal year, and Councilwoman-at-Large Terry LaBruno was elected vice president.
The outgoing president, 1st Ward Councilwoman Theresa Castellano, said she enjoyed the challenge and added that in an "interesting" upcoming year, it's important the council rally around the president.
"And with that, I have the honor of nominating my vice president, Angelo 'Nino' Giacchi," Castellano said.
Giacchi accepted the nomination and said, "I have been listening and I've been watching, and I hope I have learned the tricks of the trade, so to speak."
Giacchi has been one of the more silent members of the council at meetings in the past year.
But the new council vice-president, Terry LaBruno, a supporter of Mayor David Roberts, has not been silent, often defending Roberts at meetings and defending city workers from attacks from public speakers.
The vote for LaBruno was unanimous. She was nominated by 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo.
"We often disagree, but hopefully we set a tone of disagreeing with respect and with dignity for this office."
- Terry LaBruno
"We've supported on each other on certain issues and we've most certainly been against each other on other issues, but that's what makes this council work so well," Russo said.
LaBruno said, "We often disagree, but hopefully we set a tone of disagreeing with respect and with dignity for this office."
She said she was eager to work towards the future, as she remarked on her three daughters in attendance.
"It is their Hoboken much as it is mine," she said.
For the council's representation on the Planning Board, the council unanimously selected 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason, on the nomination of 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham.
Councilman-at-Large Ruben Ramos was not present for the meeting, although he was available by phone. Castellano, who has often made sure that public speakers and her colleagues followed the rules of decorum at meetings, thanked her family and her colleagues who gave her "the honor and the privileged of actually putting you all in your place from time to time," and former Council President Richard Del Boccio, who had told her this year was "particularly challenging."
After the meeting, Castellano said the budget process was the biggest challenge, particularly since the council didn't have all the information it needed.
She said the proceedings "exonerated" them, citing the resignation of the administration's business administrator, Richard England, as further proof that the council's initial suspicions were warranted.
"It was a well-kept secret between the mayor and the B.A.," Castellano said.
She was proud of the passage of the hotel tax, a measure she sponsored; the spending and hiring freezes enacted by the council; and retention of basic city services like the cross-town bus service and medical transport for hospital patients.
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