Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres has begun to build up support to create a $3 million recreation trust fund through a ballot initiative that would impose five or six cents tax increase for every $100 of tax levy on city property owners.
Torres has enlisted a number of elected leaders to back his proposal, among them the city’s recreation director and assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Passaic County freeholder Theodore “TJ” Best, and school board members Manny Martinez and Christopher Irving.
“Today marks an important first step in our support for our Recreation division through a Recreation Trust Fund,” said Torres in a statement as he launched his petition drive to place the recreation funding tax hike on the November 3rd, 2015 ballot with or without the city council’s support.
The mayor said the increase in recreation funds will allow the city to organize sports, tours, and theater outings. “Our senior citizens, adults, teenagers and children can now enjoy organized sports, book a tour of our National Great Falls Park, attend the theatre, just to name a few, and the City will have enough funds to provide for these activities,” said Torres.
Torres’ proposal will create a separate tax levy that will solely be used to fund recreation programs and facilities. His administration reckons the expanded recreation funding will aid the city’s 40,720 young people under the age of 18 and 7,792 seniors. 2013 Census figures estimate 27.9-percent of the city’s population is under the age of 18 and 8.9-percent of its population are seniors.
The city’s residential property owners, already subjected to annual tax increases, will contribute on average $0.33 per day based on the recently completed assessments. And commercial property owners will pay $0.40 per day to the trust fund.
“The recreation levy is an investment in our children’s future and will help provide us with funds to create programs that cater to everyone,” said Wimberly. He said the city’s young people have to be kept engaged with services and activities to keep them away from hanging out on the streets.
Expanded funding will allow the city to provide a large collection of activities for young people from basketball, volley ball, baseball, cricket, indoor tournaments, exercise classes, day trips to historic sites, museums visits, theater, and much more.
“If you care about the future of our communities and want to make Paterson a better place for our children and elders, voice your support for the Recreation Trust Fund,” urged Best. “When we invest in recreation we are investing in our community’s future.”
School board member Manny Martinez said increased recreation will aid child development promote social and creativity skills through physical activities which will help the young people better learn in school.
“This is an opportunity to invest in an endeavor that will maximize the value that the Recreation Trust Fund can bring to children, engaging them in purposeful activities,” said Martinez.
Christopher Irving, school board member, said, “This initiative is in the best interest for the improved quality of life of Paterson youth and seniors and will certainly increase community pride and strengthen neighborhood involvement.”
Irving and others are urging residents to support the recreation trust fund by turning in petitions to the city clerk’s office.
“It’s an opportunity to engage the community and I encourage all those interested in improving the quality of life of our City to support this initiative and help make it a reality,” said Irving.
The deadline for submission is Wednesday, August 5th, 2015.