Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Budget plan for Hackensack schools again tops $100 million

Newly promoted Capt. James Prise, the first African-American to reach that rank in the Hackensack Police Department, with wife Leticia and daughters Kendall and Madison at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. Prise, who also is the new officer-in-charge; Capt. Francesco Aquila, right; and two other newly promoted captains, Patrick Coffey and Brian Corcoran, were praised by Police Director Mike Mordaga, city officials and clergy from New Hope Baptist Church.


A preliminary 2016-17 budget of more than $104 million has been approved by the Hackensack Board of Education.

The budget, which calls for a general fund local tax levy of more than $79 million, has been sent to county and state education officials for approval.

School taxes are 44 percent of a homeowner's property tax bill in Hackensack.

This is at least the second year the school board budget proposal has topped $100 million, even though enrollment fell to 5,702 on Oct. 15, 2015, compared to 5,885 a year earlier.

The 2015-16 operating budget was $102,875,084, but actual expenditures are anticipated to total $106,882,064.

The board approved the 2016-17 spending plan at a special meeting on March 1, when the public was given one minute to comment.

The agenda also listed spending on travel, public relations and other professional services, including $205,000 for legal services, more than double the ceiling in previous years. 

In the April 19 school election, Hackensack voters will choose three members of the Board of Education, and vote "yes" or "no" on the 2016-17 school budget.

City budget plan

The school budget plan exceeds the city's proposed 2016-17 budget of $100,437,518. 

The current city budget totals $97,915,269. 

On Tuesday night, Certified Financial Officer James Mangin (pronounced "manyon") presented an outline of the city's proposed 2016-17 budget at a public hearing. 

The tax-levy increase is expected to be 2.54%.

That translates into an average $103.07 hike on the average assessed home of $239,263 last year, Mangin said.

That would be in addition to the tax hike required to by the school board budget.

About $81 of that city tax increase will go to pay successful tax appeals, officials said.

About $6 million in tax-appeal payments would be financed in 2016-17, compared to $8.3 million in 2015 and $8.1 million in 2014.

Mangin called the proposed city budget a "turning point" as the city moves toward "long-term tax stabilization."

Citing the expected tax-levy increase of 2.54%, Mangin noted that before the recession of 2008, Hackensack property taxes soared 30% in three years.

The proposed tax hike in 2016-17 will be fixed on April 1, when reassessment of property is complete.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 18 at 8 p.m. 

Today's paper

Can you imagine The Record of Woodland Park keeping up this intense, front-page coverage of racist Donald Trump and the other Republican con artists until the July 18 convention in Cleveland (A-1)?

Readers are so sick of all of this reporting on politics, and the media-manufactured "horse race" every four years.

No wonder Editor Deirdre Sykes is relying so heavily on politics.

The editor, who once ran the local-news section, continues to scramble to assemble a comprehensive local report every day.

Christie vacation

There is not a word on Governor Christie going on vacation, and refusing to work on bringing the two sides together in the threatened NJ Transit rail strike.

One angry commuter, interviewed by WBGO-FM, said this morning Christie has been on vacation since "Day 1." 

Local news?

On Tuesday, there was so little local news, Sykes or her surrogates ran two stories from the state Legislature in Trenton on L-3.

In keeping with Sykes' boycott of Hackensack news, The Record has yet to report on the proposed school board and city budgets.

Hackensack readers haven't seen a story about their schools in ages. 

Today alone, there are stories about schools in Mahwah, Bogota, Hasbrouck Heights, Demarest and Lyndhurst (L-1, L-2 and L-3).

New reporter

Staff Writer John Seasly, newly assigned to Hackensack, did cover the celebration of the city's first black police captain on Tuesday night (L-1).

Readers can only hope Seasly took notes on the proposed Hackensack budget, and will share them on another day.

Pedestrian deaths

Road Warrior John Cichowski finally reports today on a "$500,000 federal initiative designed to curb an epidemic of walking deaths that's running ahead of near-record paces set in 2014 and 2015" (L-1).

His report comes too late for two 17-year-old boys and a 7-year-old girl mowed down by crazed drivers recently.

The addled columnist continues to fall on his face when he describes as "walking deaths" what happens when drivers run down pedestrians.

And right after describing the "Street Smart" awareness campaign -- "to get drivers to slow down and stop, and to persuade walkers to use crosswalks" -- he introduces a total non-sequitur:

How far a car travels at 55 mph when a driver's eyes leave the road to text.

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