As the President of the Hoboken P.B.A., I’m responding to your Volume 26’s cover story title, “Five-unit furor.” I sometimes agree with Councilwoman Mason’s positions on many issues; however, I strongly disagree with her recent position opposing affordable condo housing for Hoboken’s work force.
Any developer who is willing to cut their profit margin by offering five affordable condo units to Hoboken’s police officers, firefighters, municipal workers and teachers at one third the market value is an honorable person in my book. Mr. Giebel should be applauded for his generosity and good faith negotiation on delivering such housing and not be vilified or become suspect to political obstructionist tactics.
Making these condos available for newly hired police officers with children is a great opportunity for all. It allows the officer to take a vested interest in their neighborhood and reside in the community he/she will serve for nearly one third of their life. They will raise children in town and directly contribute back to the city by way of taxes. A police officer is on duty 24-7, and it is a “win-win” for the community if that officer can live in the city they serve.
The average annual gross starting salary for a new police officer is $35,000 and will have to wait 13 years to reach the present top patrolman’s base salary of $80,500.00. Again, it takes 13 years to reach top pay!
Officers are required to work a minimum of 25 years before being eligible for a police pension. Officers pay the same applicable taxes as persons in the private sector and contribute 8.5 percent of their salary to their own pension. Subtract these deductions, and a new officer is left with about $450.00 per week to live on. In a city like Hoboken where half million dollar condos and million dollar homes have become the norm, and rental apartments average $1,500 to $3,500 per month, there is no way a new officer can afford to live in the town they are duty sworn to protect and serve. That is most unfortunate for the officer and the residents. On these salaries a cop, even at top pay, would never be financially able to own a piece of property in town.
I ask Councilwoman Mason, what’s wrong with providing a helping hand to a new city cop, firefighter, municipal worker or teacher who wants the pride of ownership in a city they work for? I strongly urge Councilwoman Mason to keep in mind the wonderful opportunity she is denying hard-working under-paid struggling city employees by delaying the immediate occupancy of these affordable housing units. I ask that she reconsider her motivations and position with respect to this issue and vote in favor of city employees first.
I applaud all those members on the city council, especially public safety committee chairman Councilman Peter Cammarano for fully supporting this extraordinary housing opportunity for our financially challenged, hard-working and dedicated city employees and teachers.
Vince Lombardi, President
Hoboken Policemen’s Benevolent Association