On Wednesday night, the City Council approved an 80-unit abatement in downtown Hamilton Park. Here are some of the specs on the property:
- located at 9th & Brunswick in downtown Hamilton Park a community
- the abatement will extend for 20 years
- contain 80 units, including 20 3-bedroom units and 35 2-bedroom units
- 1.88 kids from the building will attend the Jersey City Public Schools.
Wait a second…hold on.
One. Point. Eight. Eight. Students? Can a student also be a fraction? Last I checked, my children were whole human beings, not point-eights of a human. Hmmm. It’s an official city number – 1.88 students – so it must mean something, right?
But…what does 1.88 kids even look like?
Mayor Fulop’s lawyers pointed towards an answer at the Council meeting: 1.88 students is based on a “formula from Rutgers” that is used when developing an abatement fiscal impact study. This “formula” is not readily accessible online (I checked) which is in keeping with the general lack of transparency around abatements that I wrote about in my last abatement post.
Since I cannot find much information on the “formula from Rutgers,” I asked around. What exactly does 1.88 students look like? Local political satirist angryjcmom was kind enough to give me her take on the 1.88 student question:
Wow…angryjcmom really knows how to capture the inane stuff that goes on in Jersey City!!! That’s so funny, the way the little girl is smiling but her face is cut off at the top and–
This is serious. The abatement is for 20 years and by then my kids will be in college and I’ll be preparing for retirement and probably still paying property taxes on our home and…
Wow. Maybe this isn’t so much funny, as much as it’s a bit crazy. And concerning.
Ok, back to business.
What exactly does 1.88 students look like? It must mean something, right?
It’s an extremely important question, because the abatement was approved. And if more than 1.88 students from this 80-unit building do attend JCPS, then the argument for the abatement weakens. In fact, if just seven students from this 80-unit building attends JCPS, then the abatement will start to cost the City. The math is pretty easy to adjust, just take a look at the impact study below:
So maybe the council members who voted for the abatement know what 1.88 students looks like. Who can we ask? Councilwoman Osborne voted for it. So did at-large Councilman Rivera. As did Councilman Boggiano. And Councilman Ramchal. And…oh, well, you get the point.
But wait. Two council members voted against the abatement. Councilman Yun of Ward D and Council President Rolando Lavarro. Come to think of it, Mr. Lavarro asked about this 1.88 student issue, posting the question directly to the administration lawyers, asking if they were confident in the “Rutgers formula.” And the lawyers indicated they had to “check the numbers again.” This was before the vote.
Yet seven out of nine Council members then voted to approve the abatement.
But why? Don’t they realize how bad this looks? 1.88 students is insane! It belies common sense! It shows a significant flaw in our City’s abatement analysis, particularly with respect to our public schools, one of the biggest items on our City budget!!!! If the “Rutgers formula” is incorrect, or at least requiring a “check” by the administration’s lawyers, then couldn’t other aspects of the abatement analysis be incorrect too? How, in good conscience, could seven out of nine Council members vote for this????
Hmmm…what could be going on here? Hmmm……
Ahhhh, I finally get it! I know what 1.88 students looks like!!!!
Embarrassing, unconscionable, and shameful governmental dysfunction.
I attended the City Council meeting this past Wednesday (3/26/2014). Also, full disclosure: I received my undergraduate degrees from Rutgers grad and think it’s a great school, despite their “formula.”