Archive for the ‘Taxes and Budgets’ Category

The “Up” side for Trenton

As the new Citizen’s Budget Committee prepares to form its recommendations to the public and our elected officials, I pondered aloud to my committee, “what limits our pace of revitalization?”

I’ll get to the answer but first I’ll recap the problem and the solution.

Our economic problems are dangerous

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It’s Not My Fault – Leadership in Trenton

The theme for last night’s City Council Special Session on the budget was, “The mess we’re in isn’t my fault”.

The administration officially proposed a budget that raises property taxes by almost 20% which would make Trenton’s rate by far the highest in NJ.

The Mayor spoke first.  Let me summarize. Read the rest of this entry »

Having your nose rubbed in it

It sounds official; Trenton is going to have to dramatically raise its property taxes by as much as $.80 per $100 to cover a giant $13,000,000 shortfall.

How did we accumulate such a big shortfall? This is a subject that doesn’t get enough attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Taxation as a revitalization tool

A good first step towards Trenton’s revitalization is reinventing its tax system. Restructuring the tax system will take strong leadership, a good ability to communicate and a desire to be a leader in NJ’s efforts to reinvent its urban centers. My hope is that our next mayor can take up the mantle of making this important change. Read the rest of this entry »

Property tax rebates lead to higher property taxes

A popular New Jersey Gubernatorial campaign promise this year (and the last campaign as well) is to offer property tax rebates. Voters should think seriously about the wisdom of this. Read the rest of this entry »

The South Ward Council election is no time for politics of the past

Jim Coston was a transformational councilperson for Trenton and the South Ward but with his leaving, the race to fill his spot is wide open. Read the rest of this entry »

The “Reinvent Trenton” Guide to Fixing the Budget

Trenton’s numbers don’t tell a pretty story.  By anyone’s measure it’s currently an unsuccessful city.

  • Trenton has 17.5% unemployment,
  • We have a $20M budget shortfall,
  • We will be bankrupt in 2012
  • We have the highest taxes in NJ
  • We have the 2nd highest crime rate in NJ
  • And, we’re losing population

This is not a good situation. Read the rest of this entry »

Hope for Trenton – Compromise on the Water Works deal

I wish it didn’t take brinksmanship to force constructive dialogue in Trenton.

Everyone agrees (I hope) that we need a rethink about Trenton’s financial health. Everyone also agrees (I hope) that there is a price at which selling the suburban portions of the Trenton Water Works is a good idea.

And, let there be no doubt that it’s too late to patch this year’s budget. Without drastic action we’re facing catastrophic disaster from a tax hike that will drive away investment, force foreclosures and thereby further reduce city revenue.

My hope is that the administration and petitioners can reach an agreement that commits the city to budgeting, openness and planning reforms that address our structural problems. I also hope that they can reach an agreement to allow the sale to move forward and, as stipulated in the City Council’s resolution, use only $20M of the proceeds to fix budget gaps. The remaining $60M should pay down long term debt principal.

Emotions are running high on both sides, for all of our sakes, let’s hope and pray cool heads prevail.

Saving the city by giving up the schools

A Modest Proposal to fix the budget and still keep the Water Works

In “Invest the Trenton Water Works proceeds in the future not the past” I argued that the proceeds from the sale of the Water Works should not be applied directly to the 2010 and 2011 budgets. I allowed that it was too late to fix the 2009 budget and therefore $20M of the proceeds should be used to patch this year’s gaping budget hole.

If a group of Trenton citizens have their way, the sale will be delayed until a public vote can be taken and it’s not certain at all that the public will go along with the administration’s plan. We’d be left with a huge problem. Therefore, we’d better come up with plan B for patching the 2009 budget. Read the rest of this entry »

Invest the Trenton Water Works proceeds in the future not the past

That the suburban portion of the Trenton Water Works will be sold seems to be a foregone conclusion. This is a good thing.

Running a water company for Ewing, Hopewell and other towns isn’t core to the business of running Trenton. It’s safe to say that we have more pressing concerns than whether or not our neighbors to the north have good water pressure. Continuing to run TWW would stretch our already thin and getting thinner, management resources.

Those that argue against the sale need to consider the big picture.

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