Ten months in budget year, Council still not sure when approval vote will come
TRENTON, N.J. – The Trenton City Council balked at another opportunity to pass a budget last night, forcing Mayor W. Reed Gusciora to again issue an executive order for emergency appropriations to allow continuity of City operations.
Six months ago, the City Council missed a state-mandated April 29 deadline for municipal budget passage and, according to NJ Department of Community Affairs, their neglect has cost Council members $25 per day in fines for the past month.
"We proposed a budget with a flat municipal tax in March," Mayor Gusciora said. "Now with two months left in the year, Council leadership has finally decided to do their work. Unfortunately it's too little, too late. They've attacked City operations, tried to halt any progress, and ultimately failed at performing their core duties."
Council President Kathy McBride has cancelled departmental reviews, delayed public hearings, and postponed or failed to conduct several meetings related to the budget, which was approved on introduction by Council on April 5, 2022.
The executive order (link below) "authoriz[es] any and all steps necessary to ensure the continued provision of goods and services needed for the health, safety and well-being of Trenton's citizenry, as well as the financial stability of the City, including payment of Debt Service, for a period not to exceed 30-days or whenever City Council passes temporary emergency appropriations or the budget for Calendar Year 2022, whichever of the three (3) events is sooner; and will further follow the guidance and direction of the DCA with regard to the foregoing directive."
On June 31, Gusciora issued an executive order for emergency funding as City Council balked at passing temporary appropriations heading in to the July 4 holiday weekend.
- LINK TO EXECUTIVE ORDER -
CITY OF TRENTON - 2022 BUDGET TIMELINE
APPROPRIATIONS PASSED: 22-095 Transfers made by Finance of the TY 2021 Appropriations for $2,073,000. (Pass 5-2; Vaughn and Rodriguez vote no)
APPROPRIATIONS PASSED: 22-096 Emergency Appropriations to the CY 2022 Temporary Budget for $64,655,101.28. (Pass 5-1; Vaughn votes no)
PROPOSED BUDGET: Council passes resolution to receive Mayor Gusciora’s proposed budget with no municipal tax increase. ⧉
BUDGET HEARINGS CANCELLED: Council President Kathy McBride refused to hold budget meetings until the City hires a “budget officer” to “explain” the proposed budget.
APPROPRIATIONS PASSED: 22-102 Emergency Appropriations to the CY 2022 Temporary Parking Utility Budget for $200,000. (Pass 7-0)
DEPARTMENT REVIEW CANCELLED: City Council leadership cancels departmental budget hearings for Law, Administration, and Public Works.
DEPARTMENT REVIEW CANCELLED: City Council leadership cancels departmental budget hearings for Finance, Municipal Court, Housing & Economic Development, and Inspections.
BUDGET DEADLINE: State law requires City Council adopt a fiscal year municipal budget by the end of April.
REQUEST FOR HEARINGS: Gusciora writes to McBride refuting her requirement for a budget officer and advising that specific questions about the budget should be communicated and the Administration will provide detailed responses. ⧉
APPROPRIATIONS REJECTED: 22-229 Emergency Appropriations to the CY 2022 Temporary Budget in Current Fund including Debt Service for $ $28,184,505.54. (Fail 4-3; McBride, Rodriguez, Vaughn, Wilkins vote no)
APPROPRIATIONS REJECTED: 22-245 Emergency Appropriations to the CY 2022 Temporary Utility Budgets CY 2022 in Current Fund for $19,011462.64. (Fail 4-3; McBride, Rodriguez, Vaughn, Wilkins vote no)
APPROPRIATIONS REJECTED: 22-246 Emergency resolution authorizing emergency appropriations to the CY 2022 Temporary Budgets of the City of Trenton Current Fund including Debt Service for $46,970,773.32. (Fail 4-3; McBride, Rodriguez, Vaughn, Wilkins vote no) ⧉
EXECUTIVE ORDER: Mayor Gusciora issues Executive Order 22-04 permitting payment of City debts and continuation of uninterrupted services to residents and businesses. ⧉
DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Council holds budget hearings for Municipal Court and Finance.
DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Council holds budget hearings for Housing & Economic Development and Inspections.
DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Council holds budget hearings for Mayor’s Office and Health & Human Services.
DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Council holds budget hearings for Water.
DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Council holds budget hearings for Clerk’s Office and Recreation.
DEPARTMENT REVIEW: Council holds budget hearings for Police and Fire.
TAX DEADLINE EXTENSION: Municipal tax deadline extended for third quarter bills. ⧉
CREDIT DOWNGRADE: Moody’s downgrades City of Trenton’s bond grading following City Council refusal to pay debt service. ⧉
STATE INTERVENES: To allow the City to issue fourth quarter tax bills, the NJ Department of Community Affairs sends the City a letter confirming use of the tax rate from the April proposed budget to generate tax bills.
BUDGET HEARING: City Council leadership scheduled, cancelled, rescheduled, and again cancelled hearings to adopt, or adopt with amendment(s), the 2022 municipal budget.