By Bill Cleary
GLOUCESTER CITY NJ -Gloucester City Mayor Bill James appointed a Mayor Advisory Committee earlier this year to study a change in the City’s Charter. The committee is expected to sum up its findings within the next month.
Last November Wil Levins a columnist for CNB (ClearysNoteBook) wrote, the time has come to open a debate about Gloucester City’s Ward system. As I have written in previous articles over this past year, I believe our Wards are outdated and no longer serve the best interests of a City that has 12,000 residents living in a mere 2.2 square mile area. The Wards prohibit full participation in our electoral process and segregate voters from expressing their will.
Many of our residents and City leaders have expressed similar frustrations with Gloucester City’s governing/voter divisions.
Former and current Mayors and Council members have cited the difficulty in finding residents who have an interest in serving in our City government, from all three Wards, as well as the alienation of voters from choosing their full leadership.
Levins, an outspoken advocate for nonpartisan and ward-free governance, is one of the members of the mayor’s advisory committee studying the City’s charter.
RUMOR ONE-For the past month a rumor has been circulating about layoffs in the Gloucester City Fire Department because of the reduction in state aid. The state cut the City’s aid from $3.187 million to $2.678 million. Supposedly the City was reducing the department by seven; two of those would be gone through attrition. The City Fire Department has an annual budget of $4 million. There are 23 full-time firefighters and 10 full-time supervisors.
Asked about the rumor Mayor James said, “No one has been laid off in that department. And before anyone could be laid off the City must first notify the state of its intentions. That process takes 30 days. After that period the employee would be notified and he or she has 45 days to appeal the layoff”. James said that council is still working on this year’s budget, and at this time it is not clear what steps will be taken to make up for the cut in state aid.
RUMOR TWO-Recently employees working for the Gloucester City School District have been talking about every administrators in the district being given a 10 percent bonus come September 1. According to Bruce Darrow, a member of the Board there has been no discussion of such a bonus at any of the meetings he has attended. He added, “I can tell you that High School Principal Jack Don, who also heads a Child Study Team, refused a stipend he was offered because of the poor economy”.
Although residents living in Brooklawn and Mt. Ephraim are seeing no school tax hike, City residents who are assessed at the average of $70,000 will face an estimated $31 school tax increase. The state aid for the City was reduced by $2.2 million. The2010-11 budget totals $38.8 million. You can vote for or against the increase on April 20. Polls are open from 2 pm to 8pm.
Gee! I thought because we were labeled an Abbott District (a poor community) the state paid for everything. I can’t imagine how much more our taxes will increase if plans for the new $60 million Middle School are allowed to proceed.
CONGRATULATIONS-Friends and family gathered at O’Donnell’s Restaurant last week to honor Ken Shuttleworth who retired on December 31, 2010 after 25 years as head of the Camden County Public Affairs and Information and Constituent Services . Ken is the father-in-law of Gloucester City Administrator Jack Lipsett. The affair was hosted by the Gloucester City Democrat Club.
New Jersey Assembly Republicans Statistics
- Of the 63,480 taxpayers who earned more than $400,000 (the threshold for the misnamed and expired millionaire's tax) more than half reported business income. Those who argue for "taxing the rich" ignore the impact this would have on employers who have lost 156,000 jobs since 2000.
- Shared sacrifice - about 1 percent of the state's population carries about 40 percent of its burden.
- State government spending increased 50 percent from 2001-02 to 2007-08.
- Local government spending increased 69 percent from 2000-01 to 2009-10.
- Governor Christie's budget proposal includes 1,300 executive branch layoffs including 529 from the Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital and 129 by privatizing New Jersey Public Television and Radio (NJN).