On Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009, the Mayor and the Commissioners of the town of West New York had their regular meeting but this time the meeting was held in the large auditorium of the Middle School of West New York. Apparently, this place was chosen because they knew that the whole town was eager to know why the property taxes were raised so high. The residents of West New York filled out the facility to the point that there was no empty seat at all. In fact, there were a few hundreds of protesting residents outside the facility that could not enter due to the fire regulations. The great majority of the attendees were angry West New York residents that booed the Mayor when he made his entrance to the facility.
The Mayor and Commissioners spent a lot of time blaming the CFO for the financial difficulties of the town. They said that there was deficit spending in previous years (including unpaid bills from several years.) They also said that the CFO did not properly record deficits and concealed them from the Commissioners. They went on and said that expenditures were not properly made, that services were obtained without contracts or any apparent controls, that bills received were unpaid and ignored and that past budgets and town records did not reflect these activities. Listening to all of this one cannot help but wonder whether the Mayor and Commissioners were in charge of the City Hall or rather it was the CFO. The Mayor and Commissioners of West New York said that the budgets adopted in the past years were in balance but were not properly funded due to concealed overspending and that there was no sign that the former Mayor or any of the Commissioners knew that the budgets they voted to adopt were underfunded. Apparently, Mr. Silverio Vega is trying to put blame on the previous administration of the town forgetting that he was part of that administration.
In 2008 the West New York property taxes were increased by 16.36 percent. The West New York Mayor and Commissioners said that in 2008 the town sold the DPW garage to cover a recognized shortfall of $8 million. If the budget was balanced in 2008, why were the property taxes increased to that huge amount? This year they have announced an increase in the property taxes by 27 percent over the last year which makes a total of 48 percent in two years.
Instead of announcing a freezing of the salaries of the town hall, the Mayor and Commissioners had the audacity of announcing an increase in the salaries of several workers. This is really a punch in the face of the residents of West New York.
I believe that some elected officials that have some influence on the Mayor should advise him and the Commissioners of West New York to resign immediately because they are incompetent for the job they were elected. If they don’t heed the advice, a way to force them to step down should be sought. If none of this happens, I am completely sure that the Mayor and Commissioners will be ousted from their posts by means of a recall election.
Serafin Fernandez, M.D.