City Council passes $60M budget
At a special meeting on Nov. 2, the Bayonne City Council approved a $60 million transitional year budget for six months, ending Dec. 31. It will neither raise nor lower taxes in comparison with the previous bill.
Earlier this year, the city voted to change its yearly budget from a fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) to a calendar year (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31), and this required the city to devise a six-month budget to cover the gap between the end of the last fiscal calendar on June 30, 2011, and the beginning of the calendar budget on Jan. 1, 2012.
Taxpayers on the average home assessed at $133,000 saw about a $150 increase in August, city officials said. But the November bill is expected to be exactly the same as August. The estimated bills that will go out in February and May are expected to be about $75 less for each bill than the November bill.
Business Administrator Steve Gallo said the administration is currently working to keep taxes from rising in the future and to reduce the annual budget gap that has plagued budgets for a greater part of the last decade.
“Eliminating the annual budget deficit is a challenge, but we are making progress,” he said.
Bayonne Parking Authority to be abolished
The Bayonne City Council is expected to introduce two ordinances at its Nov. 9 meeting that will abolish the Bayonne Parking Authority – an autonomous public body – and establish a city department to assume those duties.
Earlier this year, Mayor Mark Smith proposed eliminating the BPA, as well as the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority, as part of a downsizing of municipal government.
The BPA has been plagued with problems, including several lawsuits questioning some of the operations.
Business Administrator Steve Gallo said the council’s move to abolish the BPA – and to create a new public utility under the auspices of the Department of Public Safety – would streamline parking operations and make them directly accountable to the administration.
A public hearing on the proposed change is scheduled for Dec. 14.
Community invited to Child Seat Safety Checkpoint
The Bayonne Fire Department invites Bayonne residents to the free annual Child Seat Safety Checkpoint on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the 16th Street Firehouse on Avenue A. This year’s event offers a centralized child seat safety checkpoint, and is being sponsored by the Bayonne Fire Department and Safekids Worldwide.
To date, the Fire Department has checked over 800 child safety seats for Bayonne residents. New Jersey state law requires that parents install child safety seats for children under age 8 who weigh less than 80 pounds. Children that are heavier or older and up to age 18 must wear seat belts.
Safety experts recommend that all children under age 13 ride in the back seat. Bayonne’s child seat technicians use a 12-point checklist to ensure that children are traveling safely.
Parents should be aware of the two most common issues regarding child safety seat installation. The first is a loose chest harness clip that is designed to hold the child within the seat. Children tend to play with and unintentionally manipulate the chest clip. The result is the chest harness can slip down and create an unsafe seat situation. The second problem is loose items stored within the vehicle, particularly on the rear windshield deck in passenger cars. These items can become projectiles, and seriously injure children at the time of a collision or sudden stop.
A child seat safety-check appointment can also be scheduled throughout the year. To schedule an appointment, call the Fire Headquarters at (201) 858-6008.
BHS announces upcoming productions
Bayonne High School’s Drama Department will hold auditions in December for two upcoming productions: on Dec. 19 from 3 to 6 p.m., and Dec. 20 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Bayonne High School Alexander X. O’Connor Auditorium.
The Drama Department will conduct auditions for their spring musical “Hairspray.” Any student between the ages of 10 to 18 who resides in Bayonne is encouraged to audition for this production.
Also auditioning at the same time will be the Faculty, Student, Alumni Production of “Into the Woods.” Any current Bayonne student, faculty member, or BHS alumnus is encouraged to audition for this production.
Information with audition details can be found at the BHS Drama Web site, bhsdramasociety.com, or by calling (201) 858-0071.
Poland trip deemed personal
An inquiry and report done by a county attorney concluded that a trip taken to Poland by several prominent Hudson County officials was a personal trip, and expenses for Hudson County Community College President Glen Gabert should not have been reimbursed by the college.
The inquiry was prompted by the Hudson County freeholders last month when they learned that all the employees – except for Gabert, who took the week-long trip to Poland – had paid their own way.
“Hotel and ground transportation in Poland, however, was paid by the hosts for the trip,” the report said. “The trip consisted of sightseeing and visiting museums, palaces, and other tourist attractions.”
The report said that everyone who took the trip except Gabert had viewed the trip as personal and used vacation time for the trip.
The trip to Poland took place from Aug. 8 to the 15, when two county executives in Poland invited Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise after meeting him in trips to Germany in 2007 and 2009. Bill Gaughan, DeGise’s chief of staff, attended the trip to Poland on DeGise’s behalf. Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith was also invited, but declined the invitation.
While Bill LaRosa, director of Cultural Affairs and Tourism for Hudson County, in a Sept. 7 memo said the purpose of the trip was to develop contacts that might benefit local governments, businesses, and artists, the report said, “It is clear that all the county employees who participated in the trip to Poland … undertook this activity with a clear understanding that it was a personal trip or a vacation.”
Gabert, however, did not use vacation time and had some of his expenses during the trip reimbursed by the college.
In its recommendations, the report said Gabert should retroactively and voluntarily apply vacation time for his Poland trip, and that the college’s travel policy should be amended to include the college president – which would help avoid situations like this in the future.