Hoboken mayoral candidate Beth Mason kicked off her campaign this morning by introducing her three council candidates (see item below). She also sent this letter for this weekend's Reporter, explaining her vote on the Church Towers abatement.
To read more about that issue, check out our report on it last month HERE.
Here is Mason's letter, which will also be in our print edition this weekend along with numerous other letters (more than a dozen this week on Hoboken issues!)
Those letters will also be published on this site in our "opinion" section on Sunday.
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
We are all adjusting to a dramatic tax increase, brought about by years of fiscal mismanagement. For those of us who call this city home, whether we’ve lived here a few years or our entire lives, the tax hike is painful. As someone who’s lived in Hoboken for 25 years and loves being here, I understand the burden this financial predicament has placed on our community.
Last week, I voted to extend a PILOT (payment in lieu of tax) program supporting affordable housing at Church Towers. The original 40-year agreement expired in February 2008. As allowed by law and supported by the State Department of Community Affairs, the Council authorized an extension for the remainder of a 10-year period at a rate higher than more recent agreements. It also requires the owners to identify a current Federal or state program under which to manage the properties. I got involved in rewriting the original resolution because I felt it imperative that there be clear assurance that the buildings remain low and moderate income housing, that current residents were protected and that the City and taxpayers were getting something in return for the PILOT.
The administration, with the oversight of the state monitor, will oversee the program choice to ensure these units remain affordable and are not turned into condos.
The overwhelming majority of Church Towers residents are, in fact, low and moderate-income families, fixed-income seniors and the handicapped that deserve public support. They are our neighbors, have been for many years and are an important part of the make-up of our city. I believe the residents of Church Towers found themselves at the center of controversy over the mismanagement of the entire PILOT program. In a city as riddled with subpar management as ours has been there are many targets at which we feel inclined to take aim as the source of our ills.
There is no affordable-housing program, to my knowledge, that allows summary eviction of tenants who have been fortunate enough to improve their livelihoods.
For many years, I have fought for management practices to make our city government accountable equitable and transparent. Like you, I am infuriated at the lack of oversight and the general mismanagement that has led our city into the current financial crisis and placed these residents in jeopardy of losing their homes. To address the current economic situation we find ourselves we will need to work together in a progressive and constructive way.
Councilwoman, 2nd Ward