Jersey City Planning Process
Jun 17, 2018 | 751 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Editor:

The Katyn Memorial debacle clearly demonstrates that Jersey City lacks an effective and efficient strategic planning process. Basically, Jersey City still operates off an archaic governance system, a "system" that hasn't changed since the days of JVK and Hague. Jersey City should adopt a more robust planning process that nurtures a mature, progressive governance system receptive to fiscal integrity, financial responsibility, ethical practices, and audit readiness.

There needs to be uncompromising accountability in local government. Consider the planning, programming, budgeting, and execution system. Everything starts with a strategic plan. The mayor sets the vision for the strategic plan. Programming - deciding how to distribute resources - follows planning. Basically, it comes down to aligning public resources to those projects that are lined up to the goals and objectives stated in the strategic plan. Budgeting is the process of committing and obligating funds to resource those programs.

That is, setting aside public funds to pay for the projects. Execution is disbursing – and accounting for - funds to pay for those projects. Rigorous financial, management, and administrative controls are key throughout this process. Municipal government should be thinking- and functioning - along these lines. Transparency and openness in government are a start. But, there needs to be a proven planning, programming, budgeting, execution, and control process in place to compliment transparency and openness.

Otherwise, it will be "business as usual." The mayor is willing to invest municipal funds to "relocate" the Katyn Memorial and build a park. However, the city's infrastructure is crumpling at the seams. Just recently, a police scooter turned on its side because it went through a monster-sized, moon-crater pothole on Garfield Avenue. The reservoir is in dire need of repair. Every ward in Jersey City has issues with the infrastructure, and those issues need to be addressed and prioritized. Taxpayer money should be invested to fix those issues that are high on the priority list.

Indeed, as previously mentioned, the mayor, as chief executive of the city, sets the vision. The strategic plan should outline priorities, as well as lay out a means to achieve the mayor's vision - typically stated in terms of milestones, objectives, and goals. The council should work together, as a unified body, to develop a priority list. The top priorities are resourced first; and, as funding becomes available, the unfunded requirements are then addressed and (re-)assessed.

The council needs to play an active, independent role in this process. The city's legislative body should function as the "honest broker," the "steward" to the public resources place in that body's trust. An independent council is the vital lynchpin to a sound planning, programming, budgeting, and execution process.

The council should have independent power of the purse. Being the mayor's "rubber stamp" causes Jersey City to regress to a feudal state, a time when "the lord" of the realm controlled his vassals at each of his "fiefdoms." We've outgrown that type of government.

Very respectfully yours,

John Di Genio

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