Monday, January 4, 2016

HUMC offers chump change to overburdened taxpayers

First, drivers faced detours and lane closings caused by extensive utility and sewer pipe excavations. Now, they have to drive over rough patches like this one on River Street in Hackensack, hoping against hope for a repaving that may never come.


Hackensack residents are checking their bank balances to see if they can make a quarterly tax payment of several thousand dollars next month.

And what are Hackensack University Medical Center officials doing to compensate for the huge amount of tax-exempt property they own that generates not a single dollar for the city, shifting the tax burden even further onto residents ?

They're offering chump change to the city under a proposed law that would assess non-profit hospitals a "community service contribution," according to a Page 1 story in The Record today.

Hackensack "would receive $690,762.50" from HUMC, Staff Writer Lindy Washburn reports.

$15.5M deal

Meanwhile, Mayor John Labrosse and other City Council members haven't explained why they aren't filing a lawsuit like the one that netted Morristown a settlement of $15.5 million over 10 years (A-1).

A tax court this summer ruled that Morristown Medical Center was not entitled to its property tax exemption "because its operations were little different from those of a for-profit company," Washburn reports.

The paper's chief medical writer didn't bother to interview officials in Hackensack or any other municipality with a non-profit hospital, including Teaneck, Englewood, Ridgewood and Wayne.

Wish list for '16

Topping readers' wish list for 2016 is the departure of Road Warrior John Cichowski and all of the other burned-out columnists at The Record.

It's time for some fresh voices from reporters who aren't afraid to challenge authority.

Today's Road Warrior column is so poorly written and edited, readers can't figure out exactly why a traffic safety officer wants more cameras.

When Cichowski took over the column more than a dozen years ago, it was intended as a guide for commuters.

But, either through laziness or sheer incompetence, Cichowski started to rely almost exclusively on emailed complaints from drivers for his column ideas.

In the process, he often loads his columns with accident data, and commits more errors than any other staffer at the Woodland Park daily.

Thanks to Liz Houlton, the six-figure production editor, few of them were caught or corrected. 

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