UPDATE: Amended Jersey City budget will include nearly 4 percent tax increase; includes salary increases in mayor’s office, others

JERSEY CITY – In preparation for the July 10 special council meeting to amend the Jersey City’s 2013 budget, the city clerk’s office has released details of the amendments to be considered. They would increase taxes by 3.92 percent.

City Council President Rolando Lavarro Jr. has scheduled a special City Council meeting for Wednesday at 6 p.m. to introduce an amendment to the 2013 municipal budget.

The 2013 calendar year is half over and Jersey City has yet to pass a municipal budget for the year. Former Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy presented a $486 million 2013 city budget to the council in February, and the governing body held a public hearing on the spending plan, but never adopted it.

The eight-page budget amendment includes several line items of note.

For example, wages and salaries in the mayor’s office will be upped from $929,650 to $1,029,650 – an increase of $100,000. Wages in the revamped Mayor’s Action Bureau will increase by $180,137, from $366,863 to $547,000.

The city’s website touts a “new and improved” Action Bureau whose “goal is to provide [residents] with quality information, courteous customer service, and quick turn-around on quality-of-life complaints.”

Details on how new Mayor Steven Fulop plans to overhaul and improve the Mayor’s Action Bureau have yet to be released. But during a series of town hall meetings Fulop held throughout the city in June, many residents expressed a desire for better constituency services from municipal departments. An expanded Action Bureau may be Fulop’s attempt to address these criticisms.

Salaries in the city’s law department will also be increased under the amended budget, from $2,998,221 to $3,173,221 – an increase of $175,000. There will also be salary and wage increases in the city’s Department of Public Works and in the Department of Housing, Economic Development, and Commerce.

General expenditures under the amended budget will rise from $500,097,007 to $515,923,451. About $95,272,529 of the city’s 2013 expenditures are excluded from state-mandated spending caps, and the amount of money to be raised from taxes increases by $15,935,378 in the amended budget.

It remains to be seen how the Fulop administration plans to address the budget shortfall and cover increased staffing in certain departments.

On Tuesday Mayor Fulop announced that his administration will conduct a desk audit of city workers and programs to, according to the mayor, “make every employee and every office accountable and working to its fullest potential for the residents and business owners.” – E. Assata Wright

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