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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Administration: another late budget on the way

Trenton Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum has apparently informed City Council members that the city is in store for another whirlwind, rushed, and oversight-free budget process next year.

This year City Council members saw their statutory right to act as a financial oversight committee diminished, after officials from the Douglas H. Palmer administration waited to introduce a budget until the fiscal year was 70 percent complete.

One result was that council members could barely change the budget because most of the money allocated for expenditure had already been used up, plus no major change could come without causing debilitating delays on the state statute-dictated budget schedule.

The more important result was that a poverty-ridden city that already sees some of the highest tax rates in the county now faces a 13-cent increase in the tax rate, further breaking the backs of businesses trying to survive in an area with public safety problems, and stretching homeowners trying to make mortgage payments to the limit.

It has already been forecast that next year’s budget – absent of some miraculous economic development – will boast a similar increase, while state aid budgets are being reduced by a governor hell-bent on bringing fiscal sobriety to the Garden State.

Next year a majority of City Council needs to work as a group to hold the feet of the administration to the fire, and cut both unneeded positions and unneeded departments that serve little purpose in a city that has seen its population shrink by over 30 percent in the last 40 years.

Just because Mayor Palmer would like to feel like the king of his little fiefdom on the Delaware, it doesn’t mean the City Council and the taxpayers should provide him the means to do so, on their tab.

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