Elizabeth Council Raises Taxes

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ELIZABETH – Eight of the nine City Council members are in agreement with a plan to increase taxes on the average home by $160 and terminate several hundred school employees whose salaries are paid by state revenue.

Members of the municipal governing body took charge over the school budget when it was narrowly defeated by voters in the April 20 election. Councilmen Bill Gallman and Nelson Gonzalez are pushing to eliminate 150 school security jobs while Councilmen Manny Grova and Joseph Keenan want to privatize about 300 food service positions, but they all desire to inflict layoffs on teachers.

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They also agree that taxes should increase for the average homeowner by $160.

“I’ve waited 14 years for this,” said Councilman Ed Jackus, a school district employee who believes he is finally able to exert influence to punish those who have crossed him. However, Councilman Carlos Cedeno said those who have a job or relative employed by the district have an obligation to excuse themselves from participating in budget talks because their financial interest creates a conflict.

“My wife works for the school system, so I am abstaining from this process but I am bothered by the glee with which some council members are inflicting pain on Elizabeth’s children,” said Cedeno, the only member of the council who has voted against every tax increase.

Frank Mazza, Frank Cuesta, Keenan and Jackus also have conflicting interests, but they have not abstained from the process. Council members hope to inflict political harm on their challengers in the June 8 Democratic primary. Armando DaSilva, a former school board president, is vying with Keenan in the Third Ward and Carlos Lucio, who is challenging Gonzalez in the Second Ward, is a school principal.


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  • ElizabethResident

    Another example of superb, unbiased, njtoday journalism.

    “Members of the municipal governing body took charge over the school budget when it was narrowly defeated by voters in the April 20 election.”

    Narrowly defeated? Give me a break. Voters rejected the school budget, plain and simple. The City Council has a duty to act upon the voters’ decision and make cuts.

    “…but they all desire to inflict layoffs on teachers.”

    Actually, the City Council has no power whatsoever in determining who, if anyone, gets laid off. That decision belongs soley to the Elizabeth Board of Education. The Council makes recommendations, but the EBOE has final say. It was the EBOE that chose to lay off potentially 383 teachers, aides, and social workers, not the Council. The Council’s recommendation was a wage freeze and getting rid of overpaid and non-essential ADMINISTRATORS, not teachers.

    Why didn’t Pablo’s (Superintendent) $260,000.00 salary get cut? Bret Schundler, the State Commissioner of Education, who is responsible for all of the 590 school districts in the entire state makes only $141,000.00. Most districts have one Assistant Superintendent. Why does Elizabeth need four, each making over $150,000.00? The Council recommended getting rid of two, I say let’s make that three!

    “Councilman Carlos Cedeno said those who have a job or relative employed by the district have an obligation to excuse themselves from participating in budget talks because their financial interest creates a conflict.”

    Wouldn’t this conflict influence council members to be in FAVOR of the budget, not against it?

    So I assume none of the board memebers can vote on anything related to the budget then either, right? Since it is a well known fact that all of their families are on the payroll. Also, if this creates such a conflict, why does every candidate running for coucilman next month work for the BOE?