I would like to take a brief moment to reflect on last year and look towards the challenges we face in the year ahead in Hoboken.
First, I am humbled and honored by the thousands of residents who placed their trust in me and bestowed upon me the honor of serving as one of your Councilpersons in June 2009. We now have a mayor, Dawn Zimmer, who we can trust and who we know will fight the good fight for Hoboken’s residents, and we also have a majority on the City Council supporting Mayor Zimmer’s efforts to increase accountability, reduce taxes, and promote balanced development.
Serving as your Councilman over the last six months has afforded me a chance to “look under the hood” of Hoboken city government and see the challenges we face in 2010.
First and foremost, I am committed to doing my part in reducing taxes. This remains my number one priority. I can assure you that the Zimmer Administration is doing everything in its power to cut expenses and reduce the impact of personnel costs on the size of the budget. There will be a tax reduction in the new budget, but I am concerned that it will not be enough. More work will lie ahead of us in future budgets to continue to drive down the tax burden on residents.
In this regard, I fully support the Dec. 26, 2009 request of the Hoboken Revolt organization to expeditiously prepare and release to the public, forensic and efficiency audits of city agencies and departments, starting with the Public Safety audit. As indicated in the Hoboken Revolt request, obtaining forensic and efficiency audits of all city agencies is an essential first step towards identifying cost savings.
There are other important challenges ahead in 2010, among them revision of the Master Plan, development, the condition of the Hoboken University Medical Center, and affordable housing. Every month, we are seeing real change before our eyes in the composition of the boards that will have an impact on these issues. The mayor and City Council have and continue to appoint competent individuals who have demonstrated a shared intent to advance our efforts to take on these issues in a more transparent and fiscally responsible manner.
I remain open to your questions and concerns in the coming years. My ability to be effective is largely dependent on being able to listen to your concerns, so I would encourage you to contact me any time you wish to express an opinion or concern about any issue. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (201) 647-6090. I look forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes to you, your family and loved ones in 2010.
Ravi S. Bhalla