Saturday, February 13, 2010

Summer Concerts May Fall to Cuts

The City Council agreed last week to seek $40,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone funding for the Music in the Plaza events, but Gov. Chris Christie may have the last word.

Among items named in his executive order last week cutting the state budget, $78 million in "undesignated balances" in the UEZ fund will be "brought into the budget and lapsed."

While the governing body cut the Recreation Division's request from $55,000 to $40,000, Christie's action may reduce it to zero.

The council had quibbled over the need for the program, which includes four days of noon and evening concerts, because some members felt Recreation Supervisor Dave Wynn and Economic Director Jacques Howard did not make a strong enough case that it benefited downtown businesses. Between the Feb. 1 agenda-fixing session and the regular meeting on Feb. 8, the council did receive a letter of support from the Special Improvement District organization, but Councilmen Adrian Mapp and Rashid Burney still voted "no." Councilman Cory Storch said he voted "yes" very reluctantly, noting the council made the same comments about Music in the Plaza last year.

"I don't think the message was received," Storch said.

Council members Linda Carter, William Reid, Bridget Rivers and President Annie McWilliams also voted "yes."

The SID group had recommended a slightly lower amount, about $38,500. Last year, organizers sought $6,000 and the council denied the request. The organizers went on to get donations totaling $26,000 from downtown businesses to put on the event.

UEZ funds come from sales tax collected by certified retailers, who are allowed to charge just half the state sales tax as an incentive to consumers. The funds are retained by the state for uses within the zone and each request must be approved by the Urban Enterprise Zone Authority. A projected timetable called for UEZA approvals by May.

Meanwhile, according to published reports, Christie has vetoed recent UEZ requests, including one for streetsweeping in Hillside.

Putting the $78 million into the state budget to help close a gap echoes a past instance in which former Gov. Christie Whitman used UEZ funds for state budget relief, with a promise to restore them over time.

In past years, the city's UEZ fund was swelled by sales at Macy's, the former retail anchor of the downtown district. The Plainfield store was closed in a court-ordered bankruptcy settlement. More recently, Appliance-Arama generated a large portion of UEZ sales tax. On Feb.8, McWilliams asked for an accounting of the city's current UEZ funds. With Christie's move, it may only serve to see how much the city will be contributing to the state's $2.2 billion budget shortfall.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spening our money on concerts which everyone agrees has not paid off, while laying off Police officers makes no sense.

The Council appears to be rubber stamping the Mayor.

It is a pity - people expected more of this Council.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Christie is smacking down wasteful uses of UEZ funds, like the situation in Hillside. The street sweeping was of a very small area--and yet there is a whole bureaucracy of patronage appointments set in place to do it, management and worker bees getting salaries and bennies to cover this very small area. That is why Christie put an end to that particular one. I think the UEZ funds would be better spent by creating another awning project--something to really beautify the area for the merchants and shoppers who shop in the area consistently. If the area looks pretty, others will come. To have midday concerts when people are working, and then evening concerts when most of the businesses are closed, doesn't make sense.

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Council needs to get a spine. The concerts were poorly run and Dave Wynn does not deserve to be heading the rec department. He does nothing, his programs are nil, and he has no idea how to run a division.

Yet, the council rewards him by giving him almost double the money they refused him last year. Does anyone care to tell me how this makes sense?

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how come no one is talking about the Public Safety Director being suspended

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to congratulate all the geniuses who voted for Christie because they believed their taxes would go down. Can I just say SURPRISE!!! Sure, he's cutting money. Money that HOMEOWNING TAXPAYERS will now have to shell out to make up for the deficit! And to all the gay community members who voted for him, thanks so much for making sure we dont get marriage equality in NJ for at least 4 years, if not longer. Nice work.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the above, Lets give Gov. Christie at least 5 minutes before we started waving the flag. If Plainfied would stop operating like a welfare society our property taxes wouldnt go up. But PMUA is stealing, Sharon Briggs is stealing, Gallon is stealing and the majority of these subsequent bureaucracy's under their guidance are doing nothing but wasting money and getting paid to do nothing. I am one of those tax payers who hopes that Gov Christie shines a light on Plainfield. Its a disgrace. The level of entightlement and mismanagement is beyond comprehension.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't hear anything about the Public Safety Director being suspended.

If he gold two titles, is he only suspended 1/2 the time?

Since there is no career line past Captain in the Police Division, who would be the Acting Director in the absense of the Director?

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if Plainfield starts spending the money wisely, Christie won't have to cut. Throwing money after the weak programs/events recreation produces is an obvious case of poor judgement. We don't have money to waste on an event that will take 10 years to realize any benefit. 10:34am hit the nail on the head. dave wynn is spiraling out of control because the Mayor couldn't tell him no. I wonder how many have witnessed his manipulations. Since one of his tactics is flooding the Council meeting with kids and cheerleaders when he is trying to get his way, maybe he'll send bus loads to Trenton to plead to Christie. LOL

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am all for having programs for the kids, providing that there is a benefit for it. With the economy where it is today, we cant afford to waste $50K on outdoor concerts that are only attended by 30 or 40 people. We have so many other issues at hand that are far more important to deal with. That $50K could make for a nice playground or 2 in one of the town parks.

If Christie is thinking of stealing the funds and putting them into the states coffers, well that is just wrong. Let him continue to approve of the plans of what to do with the money, but the money should remain in the city.

If you honestly thought for a moment that Corzine was going to approve gay marriage, you are all sadly mistaken. He only jumped on that band wagon because he had no chance of winning the election with out it. And guess what, he lost anyway. If Christie were smart, he would be in favor of it. The tax revenue alone on weddings, flowers, caterers, etc would be amazing, millions for the states coffers, easily. What a way to spark the economy!

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$40,000?? That's about $1,000 per attendee--now, if each attendee spent $1,001 while watching the band play, we will have turned a profit! Good going, Mayor!

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave Wynn using the cheerleaders that belong to the High School; which has nothing to do with the recreation dept. Its really sad when you take for someone else work. The Mayor puts Women's Rights back 100 years when she lets DW and JG run the office. The old clique behind every good man is a good woman, but in this case the leadership is a woman and she hides behind titles MAY OR; in this case we are looking for a OR what.

1:12 PM  

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