After collecting signatures, 1st Ward candidate Veronica Ovalles distances herself from mayor Torres’ recreation tax | Paterson Times

After collecting signatures, 1st Ward candidate Veronica Ovalles distances herself from mayor Torres’ recreation tax


1st Ward city council candidate Veronica Ovalles, who collected more than a dozen signatures for mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ recreation tax, is distancing herself from the new tax proposal which seeks to raise $3 million from property owners to support recreation.

“When I actually understood the concept and how it hurts the people I kept those signatures. I never delivered them,” said Ovalles. She collected 15 to 20 signatures during the national night out event.

Ovalles said she did not fully understand that the proposal sought to add an additional tax burden on homeowners. Many of Torres’ petition collectors misled voters into believing the recreation tax was not an additional tax.

Deputy mayor Pedro Rodriguez, who also collected signatures for the mayor, was confronted by Kenneth Morris, city council’s finance committee chairman, when the former said the proposal was not “really” an additional tax.

Morris clarified that the recreation trust fund is an additional tax on property owners.

“At the very beginning I did not understand the concept behind it,” said Ovalles. She said as soon as she realized the measure would increase property owners’ tax bills she refused to turn in the petitions which were used to pressure the city council into approving the proposal for ballot placement.

The large amount of petitions submitted by Torres’ collectors were never verified. Many suspect a large number of the petitions were likely invalid.

Ovalles said recreation is much needed in the 1st Ward, but argued that funding it through a tax on property owners, who have been subjected to tax increases every year for the past decade or more, is not the way to go. “It can be done in other ways without hurting taxpayers,” she said.

Ovalles is not alone in opposing Torres’ recreation tax. 1st Ward city council candidates Bernard Jones and Michael Jackson also oppose the measure. Manny Martinez said he continues to support the new tax.

The four candidates are running in the November special election to secure disgraced councilman Anthony Davis’ unexpired term.

Torres’ recreation tax will be voted on by city voters on November 3rd, 2015.

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  • John Smith

    I compliment Mayor Torres for actually trying to do something about cleaning up recreation sites in Paterson.

    All of his opponents just want to look in "other directions" for "alternative ideas." In other words, they want the issue swept under the rug and forgotten.

    Standard routine in Paterson politics. The good ol' "Many people have many ideas for alternative solutions and we should be more concerned about ______ "(fill in blank with whatever you wish).

  • Pedro Rodriguez,(Deputy Mayor)

    I stand by my opinion that this is not "really" an additional tax. Let's be clear, which is the question that councilman Morris asked me during that meeting: The Recreation Tax is Technically another tax, but it doesn't necessarily represents additional monies being collected from the taxpayers. Let me explain: It's an additional tax because every taxpayer will pay for: County Tax, School Board Tax, Open Space Tax, Library Tax, City of Paterson Tax and if Approve by Voters then Recreation Tax. So from that point of view it's a new tax, but it doesn't represent a tax increase to the Taxpayers because out of the General Fund, the city of Paterson appropriate close to 2.5 million dollars to recreation already. So what the city council should do is to Re-Appropriate or deduct from the Levy the same amount of money that this "New Recreation Tax" will collect. In this case, for the taxpayers it doesn't represent any increase, yet we are protecting funding for the Youth and Senior citizen of Paterson. It's that simple. In closing, I support this Recreation Tax under the premise that our councilmen and councilwomen will re-appropriate the funds from one account to the other, others technically would say will deduct from the Levy the same amount raised by the Recreation Tax.

    • Yogi Zuna

      If it is not an additional tax in any way, then why the need for it to be on the ballot in November?

  • RoByn Thompson

    By collecting signatures and not submitting them, she has silenced those voter's voices. One does not sign a petition multiple times. You sign once and you think that your voice is going to be heard. What she did was wrong. Even if she had a change of heart, it was her obligation to submit those signatures.
    Glad that I am doing some last minute googleing of the candidates before voting.