The Home News Tribune has an editorial today criticizing Mayor/Assemblyman/Congressional Candidate Joe Vas’ mismanagement of the Perth Amboy budget this year:
Perth Amboy property owners have every reason to feel squeamish about their city’s yet-to-be-finalized budget and the bite it will take out of their hides. For starters, the spending plan is months behind schedule for presentation to the state, a sure sign of trouble. Add to that the fact that the Department of Community Affairs has ordered City Hall to slice $8 million in anticipated revenues from the tab and the outlook is even more grim. While Mayor Joseph Vas has told residents to expect an increase in their property taxes of about $126 for a home assessed at the city’s average, the real figure could climb as high as $700, according to other estimates, made worse by the knowledge the city has been so lax in prepping for this year’s financial plan.
“It’s not good,” Councilman David Szilagyi said last week. “I think the best-case scenario is we’re looking at a $3 (million) to $4 million gap.”
I’m no economist, but $3-4 million seems like a lot of money to me.
And why are they lacking these funds? Turns out to be laziness on the part of Vas and his administration:
Perth Amboy failed to document to the state how certain revenues would be generated, according to the Department of Community Affairs. That means the city might not be able to claim certain income for budget purposes. Two items have already been dropped: $3 million from an extention of its water/wastewater utility lease and $1 million in emergency medical service billing reimbursements. Still up in the air are $2 million in revenue from the Middlesex County Recreation Grant Pool and $2 million from the YMCA Public Safety Complex Recreation Pool.
City officials have pledged to properly document these revenue streams in the future, but what of now? Vas has yet to explain these oversights to any degree of satisfaction, let alone move forcefully to rectify them. The sloppy planning could cost city residents dearly.
Isn’t this the sort of sort of weak, sloppy budgeting and fiscal policy that we’re trying to get rid of in Washington? This is not the type of record I expect to see on a Republican candidate for Congress, not a Democrat.
But let’s hope this is simply incompetence and not a political maneuver to avoid releasing an ugly budget before the primary:
More sinister, it is legitimate to wonder whether the tardy unveiling of Perth Amboy’s budget wasn’t planned. Vas is a candidate in the June 6 Democratic Party primary for New Jersey’s 13th District seat in Congress. To delay bad budget news suits the mayor’s political aspirations.
After all of the scandals and missteps revealed about Vas in this primary – the support of drug dealers and sex offenders, the poor attendence at Committee meetings, and this budget mess – you have to wonder if he’ll face a stiff challenge for his Assembly seat next June. I’ve already heard of people beginning to get their ducks in a row to give it a shot.