Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Old news in Hackensack: Taxes are going up

Architectural details on the Salvation Army building on Bergen Street in Hackensack, above and below. The building is across the street from the Bergen County Bar Association.

The Hackensack City Council introduced a 2013 Municipal Budget on Tuesday night that would raise property taxes 3.3% or $118.84 on the average home assessed at $243,020.

Although Staff Writer Hannan Adely sat through the entire meeting, residents won't find a word about the proposed budget in The Record or on North

A story about the proposed Teaneck Municipal Budget is on the Local front today and on the Web site.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes ignored Hackensack's budget in 2012 and 2011, and residents never saw a story about its introduction or approval in those years.

Labrosse awakens

Councilman John Labrosse, who has been sleep-walking through meetings for four years, apparently nodded off during budget meetings and, on Tuesday night, he was the lone vote against introducing the city's plan.

Labrosse said he still had questions about the budget, but he received a tongue-lashing from Mayor Michael Melfi.

Street repairs?

Teaneck's capital budget includes $1.2 million to resurface roads and repair sidewalks and curbs, The Record reports today.

But Eye on The Record could not find a similar appropriation in Hackensack's Municipal Data Sheet, which was released with the city's proposed spending plan. 

Tax-exempt property

Hackensack lists the "general state of the economy, impact of tax appeals, flat state aid and retirements" as factors impacting the budget.

But the city doesn't acknowledge its long-term problem: 

Hundreds of millions of dollars in tax-exempt buildings at the non-profit Hackensack University Medical Center and at Fairleigh Dickinson University's Hackenack campus.

The Bergen County Courthouse, Administration Building, Jail and other county buildings also are tax-exempt.

Too young to serve?

Today's front-page story on teens who serve on school boards doesn't explain why the food is so bad in high schools, including the one in Hackensack (A-1).

Page A-2 carries two corrections and a clarification today.

More road thrills

Sykes and Dan Sforza, the deputy assignment editor, couldn't find room for a story on Hackensack's budget plan, but ran another Road Warrior column on a non-issue: electronic overhead signs on highways (L-1).

Staff Writer John Cichowski's chief value to the paper is to pad his columns with e-mails from drivers so readers can see their names in print.

Cashing in on disease

The Local front is dominated by the planned June 1 reopening of Pascack Valley Hospital "as the county's first for-profit hospital."

If the highly profitable HUMC can pay taxes in Westwood, why can't it pay something in lieu of taxes in Hackensack, where its tax-exempt status is a burden residents can no longer afford?

The story says "all the furniture and toilets are capable of supporting patients up to 400 pounds," apparently in anticipation of having Sykes and Governor Christie as patients.

From left, Councilman Marlin G. Townes Jr., City Attorney Joseph Zisa and Mayor Michael R. Melfi at Tuesday night's meeting on the third floor of City Hall.

More legal bills

Also at Tuesday night's meeting, Melfi, other council members and City Attorney Joseph Zisa Jr. defended the payment of more than $500,000 in legal bills racked up by two police officers who were acquitted of criminal charges.

Zisa criticized Labrosse for voting to approve the payment, then going to The Record and saying he is having second thoughts.

Sgt. Thomas Aletta and Capt. Danilo Garcia were charged $225 and $390 an hour, respectively, but Zisa has refused to ask a judge to rule on whether the fees are reasonable.

Aletta and Garcia were accused of intervening in a robbery and assault investigation involving two sons of then-Police Chief Ken Zisa's girlfriend.

This appears to be another case of Zisa -- the ex-chief's cousin -- and council members rubber-stamping huge payments to cover legal fees from politically connected lawyers.   

Let's hope voters wake up to this sleight-of-hand, split their votes on May 14 and kick out the clueless Labrosse, the only incumbent seeking a new term.

His own campaign literature is silent on what he has accomplished since 2009.

Unschooled chef

Also in The Record today, The Better Living cover story on aspiring chef Yitzi Taber, 17, shows he has a lot to learn about how even many kosher chickens are raised on harmful animal antibiotics (BL-1).

Does he really want to serve his Garlic Chicken Rollatini to family members without going to the trouble of finding drug-free or organic birds? 

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  1. Looks like NJMG is paying more for sexual harassment insurance thanks to Malcolm and Jennifer Borg.The Borgs are a liability to there own company and North Jersey readers of The Record and NJMG employees are paying the price for it.One of the reasons NJMG employees have no 401k plan or pension.

  2. There's no more 401k there anymore? I worked at the Hackensack office several years ago and they had just done away with pensions, but they had 401Ks with contributions from NJMG. Sad news for workers.

  3. They still have the 401k but like many companies they stopped matching employee contributions

  4. That really hurts. When I was there, every 4 percent I contributed was matched up to 3 percent by the company.

  5. A 401k Plan is next to useless without a company contribution.


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