Recently, we celebrated the inauguration of the mayor and the city council – an uplifting moment that brought citizens of Jersey City together with the hope that better days are ahead. One week later, all good will was scrapped when the council, at the behest of the mayor, approved a nearly 12 percent property tax increase by an 8-1 vote. The administration is asking for complete blind trust from the public when it pushes a tax hike that comes in advance of completion of the budget process. How can the mayor and the council send taxpayers a bill for spending they have yet to identify? Consider how low the bar is set for fiduciary responsibility when the most recent budget was approved during the eleventh month of the fiscal year. Now, the city is being asked to stomach a “trust me” tax increase without at least going through the motions of submitting a budget so people can decide whether or not it is warranted. All of this comes at a time when Jersey City residents across all wards have seen their property values sink, endured waves of job losses and stagnant wages. The cost to the public is large and getting larger. The tax increase and the mayor’s refusal to take the necessary actions to rein in spending is undeniably irresponsible and is punishing to the most vulnerable Jersey City residents – seniors citizens and those on fixed incomes. This “trust me” tax hike threatens their homes and their livelihoods. After years of borrowing from the future, reallocating funds from capital budgets and pulling one-time revenue rabbits out of hats to plug budget holes, the bill has come due. The revenue gap the city is facing is currently estimated at $42 million and yet the money raised by the tax increase will only be $17 million. What is the administration’s plan? Another unsustainable solution: asking Washington for more grants and a bigger share of stimulus money. While grant money is welcome in these hard economic times it is important to remember they are one time infusions of cash and not a sustainable revenue stream. The likely consequence of this shortfall for taxpayers will be an even greater financial burden in the form of a property revaluation, leading to still higher and unaffordable property taxes for many. Again a direct hit poor and middle class families who will be faced with being taxed out of their homes and communities. What is City Hall’s sacrifice? Unfortunately, we saw the answer to that all too clearly last month with the decision to sweeten the Crystal Point tax abatement – foregoing considerable repeatable tax revenue at a time when the city is struggling. Highlighting the disconnect between the administration’s political agenda and the dire fiscal reality the city faces, none of the six council members who voted for the abatement revision could answer when asked if the city could afford it.