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City Budget: Open letter to the Honorable David Roberts
Open letter to the Honorable David Roberts
08/24/2003 Hoboken Reporter
Dear Mayor Roberts:
The purpose of this letter is to summarize the consensus of the Advisory Committee that you convened to discuss with you the fiscal alternatives that the City of Hoboken is currently considering. The Advisory Committee represents a cross section of large and small business owners as well as policy-makers.
As you know, a budget represents the balance sheet of our principles. During the budgetary process leaders are often called upon to make challenging choices. The Advisory Committee was of the consensus--given the unique economic opportunities and constraints facing the City and the state--that you are pursuing appropriate fiscal policies in your proposed 2004 spending plan. While Hoboken has generally been sheltered from the effects of the national recession, your proposed budget reflects acceptable choices for Hoboken's long-term economic health.
Your budget proposals, specifically plans to refinance the city's $40 million debt to take advantage of historically low interest rates, may be critical for Hoboken's financial and economic stability. The city has a rare opportunity to fix in place favorable long-term rates that will stabilize the city's debt service. This would prevent budget "spikes" which can lead to budget deficits and/or reductions in municipal services.
In addition, you are proposing to borrow additional funds to achieve three key capital improvement projects, namely the acquisition of open space for recreational purposes, the construction of a new public works garage and the construction of a new central fire station. The refinancing plan, therefore, would serve the dual purpose of allowing critical community projects to proceed, while stabilizing annual debt payments, resulting in a more manageable, and predictable debt schedule for the city.
The members of the Advisory Committee noted that interest rates cannot continue at their current, historic lows. They highlighted that there is a nation-wide trend for private sector and government bodies to avail themselves of these historic rates, both to re-finance debt and to make investments in the future.
The members of the Advisory Committee responded positively to your proposal to participate in a pre-packaged health insurance program. By utilizing pre-payment options which guarantee rate reductions, the city has the opportunity to lock in favorable health insurance rates for a three-year term and, therefore, avoid unforeseen rate increases in one of the city's biggest line items. Personnel measures such as early retirement incentive packages and a reduction in the workforce promise additional cost savings to the city.
The members of the Advisory Committee reviewed the proposed acquisition of the former Parking Authority. The addition of the Parking Authority's revenues to the city budget on an annual basis could become a long-term, stabilizing influence on the municipal budget.
The Advisory Committee encourages the City of Hoboken to creatively utilize all revenues, where appropriate, to avoid reductions in services to its residents.
Gil Medina, Director
Technology Enterprise Group
Cushman & Wakefield New Jersey, Inc.
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