WATCH IT LIVE: Hoboken council planned to address capital improvements, crucial bond refinance at Wednesday meeting

HOBOKEN – The Hoboken City Council planned to meet on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. to address an agenda full of important ordinances and resolutions, including a bond refinance for the midtown municipal garage and a $2.8 million bond ordinance that will provide various capital improvements, including new street sweepers and safety upgrades for the police department.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer has said that if the bond refinance agreement, which is advertised as saving the city $50,000, is not approved, she would be forced to have layoffs in the city.
Zimmer also said layoffs are possible if the council does not pass the bond ordinance for capital improvements, saying in a Wednesday morning interview that the city is in dire need of upgrades. The city is currently operating with one city-owned street sweeper, and is borrowing one from nearby Secaucus.
The last budget included an approximate $5 million surplus, which many of Zimmer’s opponents have said she should pull from for improvements. However, Zimmer said on Wednesday that a lot of the surplus has been allocated due to ongoing union negotiations. Additionally, capital improvements should be done by bonding, Zimmer said.
Zimmer said that, assuming the city is cleared of a $52 million bond guarantee from the sale of Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC), the city has the capacity to bond for $365 million, based on real estate values. The city has only bonded for $112 million.
“We’re well under our bonding capacity,” Zimmer said. “We bond so we can cover our capital expenses.”
In order for a bond ordinance to pass, the mayor needs at least six council members to vote yes. Zimmer has five allies on the council, meaning one of her opponents would have to vote for the bond.
One opponent of Zimmer, Councilman Michael Russo, was quoted in an online report stating that he wouldn’t approve any more bonds “whatsoever” right now.
The mayor is also asking the council to pass a bond refinance agreement for the midtown municipal garage. Since part of the garage will be used by the likely new owners of HUMC, a soon-to-be for-profit entity, the bonds must be changed to a taxable status. Zimmer said the move could save the city $50,000 due to financing rates, but if the agreement is not approved, layoffs will become necessary, she said.
Some council members opposed to the mayor said earlier this week that they would not approve the deal, since they are against a new parking agreement with the hospital owners. As part of a pending parking agreement, the new hospital owners will have access to the garage for 99 years, even if the hospital closes in the future. The new owners, however, will still pay for the parking in the garage.
Watch the meeting and keep reading for more news from the meeting. — Ray Smith

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