Jewish Councilmembers Fail to Get Health Benefits Resolution Repealed.

8 08 2007

Meredith Mandell –

PASSAIC — The City Council Tuesday night did not rescind a controversial resolution — on a deadlock vote — allowing members to receive city-paid health insurance coverage.

The resolution would give elected officials benefits after 15 years of service compared to 25 years for municipal employees.

Voting against the resolution [PCJN Note: this is the resolution to rescind the resolution they recently passed giving them the benefits] were Councilmen Gerardo Fernandez, Marcellus Jackson and Jose Garcia and voting for were Council President Gary Schaer, Chaim Munk and Daniel Schwartz.

Councilwoman Maritza Colon Montanez, [PCJN Note: she works in Gary Schaer’s Assembly office] who was not on the council when the resolution was adopted in May, abstained. Council members did not offer reasons for their votes.

Last week, Schaer had responded to inquiries by the Herald News, and wrote an apology for passing the resolution in an e-mail statement.

He also had promised to have the health benefits resolution rescinded. Although Schaer stuck to his word, he could not muster the necessary votes to rescind the resolution.

Previously, Jackson and Fernandez called voting the resolution “a mistake” and also said they had misread the resolution and thought it applied to every city employee. Jackson and Fernandez voted not to rescind the resolution.

This latest issue comes in the wake of the council’s approval in January of a $72.8 million budget with a 9 percent property tax increase.

At the time, council members blamed the rising costs of employee wages and benefits for the tax increase. In all city employment contracts, the municipality has agreed to pay 100 percent of health-insurance premiums for retired employees and their spouses who have 25 years of service under the Public Employee Retirement System, the state-funded pension plan. Passaic has 694 employees, according to a February 2007 personnel list.

In November, the city received $1.5 million in extraordinary aid money from the state Department of Community Affairs, intended for “municipalities who, because of extreme circumstances, would not be able to provide essential services to the community without a substantial increase in their property tax rate,” according to the DCA.

Less than three weeks before the council approved the resolution, Gov. Jon S. Corzine, trying to curb rising property taxes, signed reform legislation that removed elected and appointed public officials from the state pension system and established a 401(k)-style contribution program for all newly elected and appointed officials, among other stipulations.

View original article here.

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8 responses

8 08 2007
A Jewish Mother

Gary Schaer, Chaim Munk, Daniel Schwartz, Gary Schaer’s secretary:
you guys have a majority on the council. You could get anything done if you want. You guys are literally pulling the bread out of our mouths. I struggle every month to pay the mortgage and to put food on my table. You guys keep on raising taxes, and being absolute pigs with foolish spending.

Every month my husband and I struggle to put food on the table for the kids and buy them what they need. Sometimes we don’t have enough food to put on the table because your taxes are sucking the blood out of us.

I probably will have to sell my house soon and move somewhere else.

When I daven, I have you three in mind, and I can tell you that’s it’s not in a good way. I hope you guys get what’s coming to you.

8 08 2007
Huh?

I have no doubt that the whole thing was a setup. Three Jewish councilmen voted for rescinding the resolution and three non-Jewish councilmen against it. The tie breaker – who works for Schaer abstained.

Read between the lines.

8 08 2007
Huh?

Copied from PassaicJews – http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PassaicJews/message/10231

Budget calls for tax hike of $338

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
By MEREDITH MANDELL
HERALD NEWS

The City Council adopted its $72.8 million budget for fiscal 2007 on a 4-2 vote at a special 8 a.m. meeting Tuesday.

Passaic City Council President Gary Schaer and Councilman Chaim Munk voted against the spending plan, after losing a bid to add all of the $2.8 million in revenue the newly established parking authority got permission to bond for from the state. Councilman Daniel Schwartz was absent from the meeting and did not vote.

Under the budget, which runs from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007, city taxpayers will see a municipal property tax hike of 9 percent. The owner
of a house assessed at $130,000, the city’s average, will pay $4,186, an increase of $338 over last year’s amount.

Schaer suggested amending the budget so that the full $2.8 million from the sale of city lots to the parking authority could be injected into
this year’s budget. That would have reduced this year’s tax increase to about 5.5 percent, according to Jose Agosto, the city’s finance director. But after some discussion, the majority of the council voted to take $1.4 million of those funds.

“I’m a bit disappointed,” said Schaer before the vote. “I believe the discussion on this matter was clear. I believe there was agreement.”

Both Schaer and Munk are up for re-election this year.

Later in the day, Schaer said by telephone that for the city’s poor, the tax hike “represents what they are eating and what they won’t be
eating.”

After the meeting, Munk criticized the city’s lethargy in not aggressively pursuing state grants to reduce taxes. But other council
members said they wanted to save the $1.4 million in revenue for next year’s spending plan. Agosto told the council that taxpayers could see a
20 percent increase in municipal taxes next year.

“I don’t want anyone to think that this is what the council wants,” said Councilman Gerardo Fernandez of the tax increase. “My concern is, what
kind of impact we are going to have on taxes next year?” he added.

The new budget reflects a 7.1 increase over last year’s spending. Last year, the city’s budget was $68,047,569.

Only one member of the public– former Mayor Marge Semler — was in attendance. No one spoke during the public portion.

City officials attributed the tax hike to a stagnant tax base, rising wages and benefits, and a reduction in state discretionary aid.

Councilman Marcellus Jackson said during the hurried meeting Tuesday that one of the city’s rising costs was group insurance for city
employees, at $12.7 million this year.

Keith Furlong, a spokesman for Mayor Samuel Rivera, said that the increasing number of tax-exempt properties made it difficult to keep
taxes under control, and that the city received only $1.5 million of the $4.5 million in state extraordinary aid it applied for.

One-third of the city’s properties are tax-exempt, according to city records, and nine additional properties came off the rolls this year,
according to the tax assessor’s office.

In 2007, the value of the city’s taxable property was $1.357 billion, representing a .2 percent increase over last year’s amount.

To our dear councilmen:

1. Why is it that the city thinks it’s taxpayers are ATM machines?

2. Why is it that there is an increase in spending without the revenue to back it up?

3. How are we supposed to keep our heads above the water when you keep raising our taxes whenever your budgetary needs don’t match the tax income?

4. For many people, a 29% municipal tax increase over two years will bring to halt the influx of new families and actually encourage people to pick up and leave.

5. Why is it that the two council members that voted no, are up for re-election this year (smells fishy)?

I invite our elected officials to comment on this latest development.

You can see the article here:
http://www.northjersey.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXkyJmZnYmVsN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk3MDU5NTA3

8 08 2007
Fedupinpassaic

same old same old. its a lose lose saituation for the taxpayers, its amazing the chutzpah these people have, they know how overtaxed we are and they still vote themselves perks and raises every meeting they have. And our community leaders tell us to vote them in again, are we better off with them, what would happen if we didnt have our own councilmen? probably nothing worse, possibly better!!!!

8 08 2007
believer

to a jewish mother:

I don’t think they believe in G-d so they’re not afraid.

8 08 2007
Fedupinpassaic

Letter to Editor in Yesterday’s Paper;
Letters to the Editor
Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More self-serving by Passaic council

In Passaic, at its public meeting of May 29, the council unanimously passed a seemingly innocuous item, No. 28 on the agenda, titled “Resolution adopting New Jersey State Heath Benefits Program.” It turns out that this applies only for elected officials.

This new gift for Mayor Samuel Rivera and the Gary Schaer-led council will allow them to receive continuing health benefits after only 15 years, rather than the 25 years required for city employees – at no cost to themselves for the rest of their lives. This will also apply to their surviving spouses. All of this is at the expense of the taxpayers.

As an example, translated into monetary numbers based on a 2006 report for traditional health care coverage for retirees, this savings amounts to more than $832 per month for a single person and more than $1,800 monthly with a spouse.

It is not enough that they have continuously given themselves raises these last six years. It is not enough that they have given themselves unnecessary expense accounts that do not require detailed reports. It is not enough that, early on, they also voted to receive yearly salary increases under the guise of “cost of living” increases.

How much more self-serving can these elected officials get?

When I questioned the council at the July 17 meeting as to why this unsuspected resolution was passed and how it would benefit the taxpayers, Schaer claimed to not remember it and that he would have to check it out.

Hogwash! Forget the excuses and do what’s right – pass a new resolution rescinding this giveaway legislation at the tonight’s meeting.

Margie Semler, former mayor, Passaic

9 08 2007
Sick and Tired

Gary,
You should be ashamed of yourself. Do you know that with the tax hike that you and your colleagues allowed to pass has now gone into affect and some friends that I have are literally taking money that used to go for groceries and spending it on your health insurance.

Shame on you! How much longer are you going to tax the hell out of us? I am putting my house on the market and either renting or moving out of town.

I moved here becuase it was affordable. You and your colleagues have destroyed that.

Watch and see how this will affect the growth. Everything we gained over the last five years will be ruined.

I nor my spouse will vote for you again.

Thank you.
Sick and Tired.

15 08 2007
jones

Jewish Councilmembers Fail to Get Health Benefits Resolution Repealed.

do you really think the jewish councilmen actually wanted the health benefits resolution repealed? They are in this job for themselves, throwing the community a bone every once in a while, Gary = Sammy and Sammy = Gary. All these men are supposed to be stock brokers and mutual fund managers making a good income. We should demand they provide their income tax statements. If they are making money, why then did they vote themselves one of the largest raises a city council in NJ ever awarded themselves, and now why are they giving themselves lifetime health benefits after a brief 15 years of service? Many questions need to be asked and information demanded.

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