So how are we going to balance our budget, thanks to the $5 million we owe retiring police administrators? There are a lot of good ideas, if we’re willing to do them, and stop with the failed policies of the past. How about we don’t replace half of them? The Police Department is woefully top heavy. We need more cops on the beat, not cops on their seat. As for caps on unused sick leave and vacation days, I want public servants to be rewarded for working hard, and not taking days off, but the economy in Jersey City is in dire straits, and that means we all have to give a little.
Another source of immediate income can be found by stopping the renegotiation down of tax abatements. Sure, with the economy in a downturn, these properties are having a tough time finding tenants or selling their condos. But they took a risk building here, so why should the rest of us pay the price? They are not too big to fail! If necessary, the city can buy the property and provide the low income housing so desperately needed in Ward E. Look, I have no problem with responsible development. 20 years ago, the waterfront was a wasted resource. But overbuilding and poor negotiation of abatements has ravaged the entire city. Maybe it’s time to renegotiate tax abatements up. Finally let’s look at some longer term sources.
First, the EPA has required the JCMUA to perform $52 million in upgrades to reduce storm water overflow. Every heavy rain storm we dump raw sewage into the Hudson. Who should pay for this? I think those properties that do not manage their storm water should pay more than those that do. So let’s separate it out from current tax rates. Second, good building energy management reduces the municipal budget, too. The city has done an energy assessment of all municipal buildings. Let’s get moving and take action. These renovations can be financed through the utility savings so they are budget neutral for 10 years, and then start generating money. There is an acronym for this, of course, called ESIPs (Energy Savings Improvement Programs). And improving policies to encourage all building owners to reduce energy use, or use renewables like solar or wind power will reduce the number of wires and pipes below our streets, improve air quality and raise the general quality of life in Jersey City. So let’s get a move on and create a budget that works for everyone.