The city is awash with anger over the city council’s decision to raise taxes at its last meeting. People outside the city are excoriating Paterson’s municipal government and its citizens. When the mayor initially proposed the tax increases, the council wisely rejected his proposed budget and demanded additional budget cuts. The mayor retaliated by closing down part of the recreation department for the latter part of the summer, putting Patersonian children out on the streets.
Unmoved the council demanded even further cuts, especially amongst the mayor’s presumed political patronage positions. But the mayor refused and failed to present a budget that would pass the scrutiny of the state’s Dept. of Community Affairs, currently in charge of monitoring the city’s finances. He instead returned to the council with a budget that if not passed, would shut down some ethnic parades at the end of the summer. So essentially the mayor called for the community to absorb increased taxes to pay for, among other things, parades while turning many of the city’s children out onto the street. Facing groups of parade organizers, and the further threat of shutting down the city, the council disappointingly passed the budget.
Rather than hold out and forcing the mayor to trim his administrative budget, the council shamefully capitulated, allowing the parades to go forward, while many of the city’s children saw their summer recreation cut short.
Soon the municipal government must approach the DCA for funds to cover a future budget shortfall. They will have to explain why raising taxes for parades was possible, indeed more important than the needs of the city’s children, but impossible to raise for the necessary future function of the city. No intelligent person can articulate a rationale that defends that position.
People outside the city are laughing loudly and harshly at Paterson and its collective leadership. This disgraceful episode calls into serious question the values of a community that will sacrifice its children in favor of a group of parades. While I do not blame the parade organizers, they have a right to demand what they want, and the mayor most definitely created this conflict, the needs of the children and the pockets of the taxpayers should have resonated louder in the minds and thoughts of the city’s leaders. Shamefully they did not and everyone is laughing, everyone except the city’s near desperate taxpayers and the children cast out onto the city’s streets.
Jonathan Hodges, MD
Child Advocate and Taxpayer