City Council approves interim tax levy; leads to tax increase
The Jersey City City Council approved by an 8-1 vote a preliminary municipal tax levy in order to send out property tax bills for the third and fourth quarter of this calendar year before the 2009 budget can be struck.
The city must soon start putting together its fiscal year 2009-2010 budget, which will cover spending from July 1, 2009 through next June 30. However, Jersey City budgets are often finished very late into the fiscal year, so the city must estimate what they will need from the taxpayers in order to send out bills.
The preliminary tax levy is $170 million, up from the $152 million tax levy set last year, which will result in an estimated 11.25 percent tax increase from the previous two quarters this year. That’s because the tax rate will go up to $28.59 per $1,000 of property owned for the third and fourth quarter as opposed to $25.42 in the previous two quarters.
Tax bills are sent out on Feb. 1, May 1, Aug. 1 and Nov. 1 of each year, despite the fact that the budget runs from July 1 through June 30.
Business Administrator Brian O’Reilly explained the tax levy was set at a higher amount because of the usual city policy of keeping taxes low in the first half of the fiscal year and then raising them in the second half to account for any deficits in the city’s finances when the city has to complete its budget. This year, the Healy administration moved to keep taxes even throughout the four quarters of the calendar year. O’Reilly said the increase of the tax levy was also to get more “cash flow” into the city’s coffers to start the new fiscal year as there is a projected $42 million structural deficit. But he also said the administration will be looking to lower the tax levy in the second half of the fiscal year, when February and May tax bills are sent out, by cutting spending when doing their new budget.
That was little consolation to five members of the public who spoke out against the tax levy and tax increase. The lone dissenting vote on the tax levy was Fulop, who objected because he wants to see a budget being introduced earlier.

Councilwoman’s residency problems worsen

Newly elected Jersey City Councilwoman Nidia Lopez, who represents the Journal Square area, has been in trouble in recent weeks after a lawsuit was filed by her opponent in the May 12 Ward C election, Jimmy King, claiming she resided both in Florida and in New Jersey, thus making her election invalid. The allegations by King were based on an investigation he initiated in which found that she had claimed tax rebates on the home she owns in Orlando that would be available only to permanent residents.
Since then, there have been various reports that Lopez has been registered to vote in Florida elections since 1997 and in New Jersey since 2001, and voted in elections in both states.
On Friday, the Orlando Sentinel published an article saying that Lopez may now owe Orange County, Fla. $33,000 in taxes she should have paid. The article quoted Lopez as saying that she has a home in Florida but moved back to Jersey City for medical reasons.

Former champion figure skater charged in Hudson County meth ring bust
Former United States figure skating champion Nicole Bobek appeared in a Jersey City court Monday morning in connection with a methamphetamine distribution ring in the Hudson County area.
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said Bobek, 31, appeared in Central Judicial Processing Court via video link from the Hudson County jail in Kearny. DeFazio said she was arrested in Florida as a fugitive last week and brought back to New Jersey on Thursday by Hudson County Sheriff’s officers. DeFazio said she is charged with conspiracy to distribute and allegedly played a “significant role” in the methamphetamine distribution ring, which authorities believe distributed $10,000 worth of methamphetamine per week.
Methamphetamine is a lethal drug that comes in such forms as crystal and can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally.
DeFazio said Nicole Bobek was held at the jail on a $200,000 cash or bond bail until she posted bail Tuesday night. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
Bobek is one of 20 people who were arrested in connection with the meth ring, which was brought down due to a yearlong investigation by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Municipal Task Force and the Bayonne Police Department. The other arrests took place in June.
Others charged include seven Jersey City residents, a North Bergen resident, and a Union City resident.

$40M budget passed for community college

Saying that this year’s budget was formulated to meet inflation, growth and expansions costs, the Hudson County Community College Board of Trustees voted to approve its $40 million 2010 FY budget this week.
This includes $1.02 million of Reductions in Regular Operating Expenditures.
The budget was also approved by the County Executive and the Board of Chosen Freeholders’ Board of School Estimate.
Hudson County Community College President Dr. Glen Gabert said budget of $39,429,422 reflects an increase of 7from FY 2009.
“The uncertainty of our economic climate continues to create a challenging environment. This is a fiscally conservative budget formulated to enable the College to provide courses and programs to more and more Hudson County residents who are about to embark on their first careers, are retooling their present careers, or are looking to begin entirely new careers,” Dr. Gabert said.
The approved budget will meet incremental expenditures from both inflationary costs and costs associated with growth and expansion, including: salary, health and pension increases in collective bargaining agreements; additional adjuncts to meet student enrollment growth; and inflationary increases for utilities and service contracts.

State awards grants to five agencies dealing with child abuse

New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Kimberly Ricketts announced last week five community agencies, including one from Hudson County, will receive grants totaling $2.5 million over the next four years for DCF’s Home Visitation Initiative, a program that promotes positive parenting and the healthy growth and development of infants and children.
The Hudson County selection is Hudson Perinatal Consortium, Inc., located in Jersey City, which received $793,333. That grant will be supplemented by additional monies from United Way of Hudson
County, the Hudson County Dept. of Human Services, and New Jersey Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee (JJDPC).
The grants will either establish new programs or support existing services in New Jersey providing primary child abuse prevention and early intervention services to young families challenged by complex health-related or social problems. The new programs will add an additional 230 slots to the statewide capacity, expanding the state’s total capacity to serve over 2,500 families at any given time.
The majority of the funding for the awards announced today was made possible through a $2.5 million federal grant awarded to DCF by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The department, after submitting an application for the grant, was one of 17 national grantees awarded last October for home visitation expansion services.

Downtown JC flea market

The Jersey City Juan Pablo Duarte Dominican Festival and Parade Association is sponsoring a flea market and car show on Saturday, July 18 (Rain Date: Sunday, July 19) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Simon’s Parking Lot on Montgomery Street between Marin Blvd and Grove Street, across from City Hall. Set up time is 8 a.m.
Spaces are $20, and vendors must bring their own table. (Please no food vendors)
For more information, contact Gregory Malave at (201) 432-9498 or Simon Jones at (201) 200-0084.

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