Archive for the ‘Vision and Management’ Category

How did Trenton get to this point?

As Trenton’s low point approaches, let’s not forget that it was 20 years of previous administration that led us here. The current group has just put the final nails in the coffin.

We’re laying off 105 police officers because our municipal budget is over $200M and Trentonians already pay the highest tax rate in NJ just to contribute $70M of that amount. Contrary to popular belief, the State of NJ would pay almost that same total, plus almost ALL of our $300M school budget.

Trenton’s taxpayers are nowhere close to being able to pay for their own government. The state currently owns roughly 25% of property value in Trenton and pays over 40% of the cost of municipal and school budgets.

We could keep the police officers but our property taxes would have to go up an additional 12% or so, thereby bankrupting many of us.

How did we get here?

  • For 20 years we’ve added more affordable housing than any other city in NJ *. This kept our average income and housing price low relative to the rest of the state and continued to push up our police and school costs. We are overindexed on families with low disposable income. This makes Trenton unattractive for retailers.
  • Through inattention we’ve driven away almost every large private employer. We’ve agressively, beat down developers with arrogant demands. We’ve failed to reinvent our tax code so that it now punishes new development.
  • We’ve elected officials who failed to understand the linkage between budget, policy and our city’s health. Voters had only to spend 60 secconds during the election and they could have discovered that most of our current leadership was not up to the task of saving the city from its current plight.
  • Its been ignorance and pride that have brought us to this point. At some point Trentonians will have to do the hard work of taking responsibility for their city. The State can be a partner but Trentonians must cooperate in good faith. We must show a plan for recovery. We need to lead.

    * BTW – According to COAH’s Guide to Affordable Housing Trenton has 7799 affordable housing units (even before including Trenton Housing Authority or section 8). Readers should be aware that there are only 22,000 or so households in Trenton. This means that over 1 out of every 3 homes in Trenton is affordable housing.

    We need a plan behind the Mayor’s Vision

    Mayor Mack gave his first State of the City address tonight.  What a great opportunity to lay out a vision and plan for the city you love.  What an opportunity to solidly address Trenton’s number one problem, its economy.  What a great opportunity to turn around a tumultuous 1st year term and silence the critics. 

    What an opportunity not taken. Read the rest of this entry »

    Trenton’s Rebirth

    “Trenton is in rebirth.”

    That’s the claim Mayor Mack’s aid, Lauren Ira, made in her op-ed piece in the Trenton Times.  Along with that she criticized people like me for questioning the Mayor’s ELEC habits, the city’s poor contracting, it’s improper and misguided attempt to sell city homes.  We are chastised for complaining about the Mayor’s failure to discipline his brother, delays in appointing a cabinet and lack of a city budget along with other public missteps.  Read the rest of this entry »

    Big suggestions for Fixing Trenton

     Not every big revitalization idea takes big money.  There are low cost policies that Trenton can either implement on its own or begin lobbying for that will fundamentally change how our city works.

    I’m hopeful that our current city council will be inspired to act on these ideas as it has shown signs of willingness to move in a new direction.  I’m encouraged by many of their private and public comments especially around the subject of refocusing our economic development efforts on attracting disposable income.  Read the rest of this entry »

    TWW: Hate to say I told you so

    Back during the Water Works debate when times were less turbid, I made one central argument for selling the suburban water works. (see Invest the Trenton Water Works proceeds in the future not the past ,   Valuation tips for voters on the Water Works deal  and  Hope for Trenton – Compromise on the Water Works deal)

    My thesis was that the suburban pipes were not strategic for the operation of Trenton as a city and that it would, instead, divert management attention from out critical issues. Read the rest of this entry »

    I don’t know what to say

    Like many Trentonians, I approached the 2010  mayoral run-off with trepidation and knew I had two less than perfect options.  But there’s always hope. 

    Since then, I’ve largely taken the summer off from Trenton politics because I was too depressed about the election including the city council contest in which most of my choices lost.  But still there’s hope. Read the rest of this entry »

    Will our actions match our revitalization words?

    Hopefully our city council will quickly move away from the issue of the council president’s “race”. It is unseemly to think that race divides our city council.

    On to more important things. Read the rest of this entry »

    An employee’s approach to fixing Trenton

    by guest writer  – Brian Hill

    So I was thinking about what I do for a living, and that I am a municipal public employee… and how I see so much waste everywhere. I also really dislike the perception that we are all just lazy bastards. So how do we really change the City of Trenton employee image and while we are at it, how can we change the image of Trenton? Us, how can we do it as well???  I did some research and wrote this up… Read the rest of this entry »

    Is Dan serious about being Mayor?

    Here’s the thing.  I don’t want to have to be involved in local politics at all.

    However, I live in Trenton and own enough property so that high taxes and declining value could be a substantial economic blow.  I am not alone in this precarious situation.  Every home and building owner in Trenton is at risk as our city’s budget comes closer to falling into the financial abyss. 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 »