Mason’s anti-double-dipping measure broken up Many controversial ordinances sent to committees for review

Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason proposed a measure for this past Wednesday’s council meeting to limit government workers in non-civil service positions from collecting an additional salary in an elected city office. However, the council recommended that the measure be broken into two separate parts and sent it to committee for revamping.

Mason’s measure was similar to one proposed by Jersey City Councilman Steve Fulop, meant to stop several Jersey City council members from collecting a salary from their elected jobs and another one from their full-time county jobs. It also would stop them from collecting extra state pension money when they retire.

While some people have agreed with the nature of such an ordinance, others have complained that it works against people in taxpayer-funded positions like teaching, who could not collect an additional salary if they ran for City Council. And some public employees already cannot collect two salaries, by state law. For instance, firefighters and police officers who are elected to Hoboken’s City Council must take a leave of absence from their public safety jobs. At the same time, they will still get the extra pension benefits when they retire.

Mason has explained that she wanted to address conflicts of interest by “taking the financial incentives out” of running for office.
Mason’s ordinance would have limited the pay on the council to $1 instead of $24,000, only if the person’s other position is higher paying. It also would allow them to collect $2,500 per year by not taking the city’s health care plan, and instead using their plan from their other job.

“Why can’t the City Council and the mayor serve as an example for the rest of the employees?” Mason said last week, noting that she has voted against paying herself, the council, and the mayor for the last few months.

Works against teachers
At the meeting, Assemblyman and Councilman Ruben Ramos called the measure “purely political,” and meant to attack him alone. He is the only person on the City Council right now who has other taxpayer-funded jobs. He is a teacher in Paterson, and also a state Assemblyman. Teachers are also non-civil service state employees.

But Ramos said Mason is trying to attack a “perceived political opponent,” especially since he is up for re-election next year.

“Disallowing a population to engage in the political process is predatory to the institution of Democracy,” Ramos said in a prepared speech at the council meeting, deeming the measure “the politics of exclusion.”

The council said that the two parts of the ordinance – pay and benefits – should be split in order to correctly gauge the will of the council.

Nino’s will
At the meeting, new Council President Nino Giacchi made two things clear: one, if the council isn’t ready to vote without pandering to a political base, he is willing to send resolutions to committee; and two, public speakers and council members get only five minutes to speak.

He swiftly navigated an agenda that was quite significant in scope, moving many things to committees to be further examined.


City attorney Steven Kleinman said Friday that the city will consent to the state’s petition to a court for takeover.


An ordinance to pinpoint and protect parkland was taken back to committee by 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo, who sponsored it.

Mason complained that a Planning Board report related to the ordinance was incomplete because it was missing information from city planners requested by the board. Mason is the council’s representative on the Planning Board.

Redevelopment plans under scrutiny
Many citizens and some of the council members were very critical of proposed redevelopment plans of the city regarding the western edge of town, and the trainyard at the south end.

The council decided to take the reins of the plan regarding western edge redevelopment. They sent it back to committee to be put under a microscope.

Several speakers voiced their displeasure about public input sessions staged by the city regarding the western edge redevelopment, claiming that the plan did not incorporate their suggestions and created a false sense of participation.

Fifth Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham sent out an e-mail to his constituency last week saying, “Your comments and concerns were not heard… Most importantly, the plan is tied to the all infamous pool and community center that has been brought out like a carrot on a stick for the third time.”

A plan also came forward from the administration to start a redevelopment study for the police station.

The plan was incomplete and not voted on by the council, but it calls for development along the block of Hudson Street between First and Second streets and a new, state-of-the-art police station somewhere off site.

PILOT debate
That debate turned into a PILOT debate, with members of the public, the council, and the administration further examining whether or not “Payment in Lieu of Taxes” deals are beneficial to the long-term financial health of the city.

With those deals, developer payments go directly to the city, with only a small percent going to the county and nothing going toward the schools.

The matter came up partly because the City Council finally approved as sale of the city’s municipal garage site to a developer, 8-0.

The administration is still trying to find a new site for city vehicles. They hope to enter into an agreement with the city of Weehawken, Hudson County, or possibly the Stevens Institute and the Hoboken Board of Education to share the new garage.

Russo said that he believes that a portion of the PILOT plans should be set aside and earmarked for schools.

“If we don’t put it in a separate account, it will get spent,” Russo said.

City Director of Community Development Fred Bado reiterated the city’s position that Hoboken is already paying an unfair portion of the county budget due to the value of the property in town.

PILOT plans, he said, are keeping our county portion lower and staying in line with Jersey City’s use of PILOTs.

State takeover
City attorney Steven Kleinman said Friday that the city will consent to the state’s petition to a court for a takeover of the city’s finances.

He said the move will sidestep a hearing and proceed directly to the state’s Local Finance Board for a determination of the scope of the takeover.

Kleinman said one of the stipulations was that the state would look kindly upon the act when determining their level of interaction with the city for the foreseeable future.

The council okayed the administration’s request for seeking credit on future taxes, or a tax anticipation notice, giving the city borrowing power of $48.9 million until they pass their new budget.

The question of how to deal with the deferred $11.7 deficit from last year was of much concern to the council. Katheryn Kinney, city finance specialist, said that she will soon pass out a new spending plan – which provides the framework for a budget – that includes the deferred charge. That way, the council can make up their mind about how to address the deficit before the state comes in and asks them.

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