This was in spite of the anti-Zimmer council minority's attempt to use the money for a tax cut.
On June 29, the council members aligned against Zimmer, who had a 5-4 majority before July 1, voted to apply the money directly to the municipal tax levy. Their vote had no legal meaning, according to a city attorney, as the budget had not been returned yet from the state Department of Community Affairs, which needs to approve the city's budget before changes are adopted. The council majority had expected before that to get the budget back from the state on time.
Zimmer's allies took control of the council on July 1 with the swearing-in of 6th Ward Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino.
Zimmer has said that if the council did not vote to keep a surplus, she couldn't guarantee that there would not be layoffs in the future.
However, her strong rhetoric didn't sway her council foes on Wednesday night. Councilwoman Theresa Castellano called keeping the surplus "a slap in the face to the taxpayers."
Councilwoman Beth Mason, the former council president, also voted against the budget that keeps the surplus, saying it was "not a fair budget."
Mason campaigned on returning the surplus to the taxpayers in her May City Council election.
Councilman Michael Russo called the issue of the surplus "a fundamental disagreement" between himself and Zimmer's allies, and said he wished the council wouldn't vote to keep $5 million.
Councilwoman Carol Marsh, a Zimmer ally, voted in favor of the budget, saying that it represents long term fiscal responsibility.
Councilman David Mello agreed with Marsh. "There is tax relief in this budget," Mello said. "It's sustainable and repetitive tax relief that we can depend upon."
New Council President Ravinder Bhalla pointed out that there is tax relief in the budget, adding that taxes have gone down in Hoboken recently while other towns in New Jersey have seen increases.
For more City Council news, keep watching HudsonReporter.com and pick up a copy of The Hoboken Reporter this weekend. - Ray Smith
hoboken council budget