This was written by Ron C. Rice with Allen Patterson, CEO of Patterson & Fraser, and posted by Newark Councilman Rice. – Promoted by Rosi
Since 1967, the City of Newark has economically struggled. In 44 years, real development did not take place until the early 1990s – the construction of New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The development of this edifice started the energy of citywide “new” construction throughout the ’90s. In 2006 and 2007, there were signs of economic retraction possibly leading to a recession and as the recession loomed, the City of Newark began to experience an even more critical condition of its economic pulse: the foreclosure rate elevated to historic highs and the city continued spending more than it was generating despite cutting substantially into the structural deficit.
Recently, the Newark Municipal Council voted for a $616M spending plan thereby ratifying a 2011 budget for the city. In doing so, the council lowered the tax increase originally proposed by Booker’s Administration from 7% to 4.6% and maintained the budget’s commitment to no furloughs or layoffs. Historically, however, Newark’s budget solutions have not tackled the main systemic problems of spending and investing.
It would be easy to say that as the structural deficit grew in our budget, the problem was masked by the use of Port Authority settlement monies to fill budget holes for a decade. It would be easy to say cut all directors’ salaries, get rid of all city perks, end all legal contracts, etc. and those cuts alone would annually balance the budget. It would also be easy to merely state that other cities in America are experiencing the same maladies and worse, from laying off half of their police forces to declaring bankruptcy. But all of those arguments hide the fact that we have real assets in our city that we have not had the collective will or the statewide support to use for the benefit of our city’s progress.