Jersey City, We Have A Problem.

Jersey City has been estimating the cost of its abatements incorrectly for at least eight years, and the impact to conventional taxpayers could amount to millions of dollars. Here’s the problem: Jersey City has been under-counting the number of (a) residents and (b) public school students that will eventually live in each abated building.  The City has been using […]

Abatements 501: A Critique of Mayor Fulop’s “Buy Up” Abatement Policy

In my Abatement Series, I’ve discussed the basic premise of abatements, how they are funded, and the impact to conventional taxpayers.  In this post I look at Mayor Fulop’s new tax abatement policy for Jersey City, which includes two notable components: Tiering System: A system of awarding abatements based on geographic location or project type1.  Each “tier” […]

What Does 1.88 Students Look Like?

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 […]

Tax Abatements 401: The Transparency Issue

In his 2010 report, “A Programmatic Examination of Tax Abatements,” NJ Comptroller A. Matthew Boxer highlighted numerous weaknesses with abatements.  One issue he touched upon was transparency.  He stated, “Information concerning abatement[s]…is not published in a transparent manner or centralized location, making it difficult to impossible for the public to compare, calculate the effect of, […]

JCPS Demographic Study: Pertinent Facts re: Classroom Space

A Jersey City parent who reviewed the Board of Education’s (BOE) two demographic studies asked that I share pertinent information from the studies as it relates to the pre-K facility issue.  If you’re unfamiliar with that issue, this article in the Jersey City Independent provides background information.  The Jersey City Public Schools (JCPS) has 28,000+ […]

Civic Hacking with Open JC

Buckle up, Jersey City…the express train towards more transparent government is leaving the station…and its name is Open JC. Open JC Founded in November 2013 by local residents Anna Lukasiak and Stephen Musgrave, Open JC hit the ground running with its Facebook page, meet up group, and website, inviting anyone with an interest in open data, open source, and […]

Tax Abatements 301: Two Sides of the Same PILOT

This is article #3 in my series about abatements.  Article #1 is “Tax Abatements 101: The Basics” and Article #2 is “Tax Abatements 201: Abatement Impact on Conventional Taxpayers.” In my previous post, “Tax Abatements 201: Abatement Impact on Conventional Taxpayers”, I focused on the orange slice of the pie pieces below.  In this post I […]

Tax Abatements 201: Abatement Impact on Conventional Taxpayers

This is Article #2 in my series about abatements, which focuses on the impact abatements have on conventional taxpayers.  My first post, “Abatement Basics,” is located here.  How important are abatements to Jersey City residents?  The answer: extremely important.  Abatement revenues – also known as PILOTs, or “payments in lieu of taxes” – have increased from 3% of […]

Tax Abatements 101: A Basic Overview

Mayor Fulop signed his abatement policy into effect by executive order on December 24, 2013.  The policy was a clear departure from his campaign pledge, which included the promise to allocate abatement revenue to a “dedicated, non-discretionary account for education funding.”  This prompted me to question: how effective is the new abatement policy, and what impact will it have […]

News Flash: JCPS is now on Twitter! (@jcps_district)

I’m a big believer in getting civic, and a big part of getting civic is tuning-in to your local community.  Once you start tuning in, your confidence to provide feedback and become part of the conversation grows, and then a virtuous cycle of community and civic partnership is born.  But oftentimes, tuning-in can seem impossible, especially […]

Jersey City Public Schools: Year in Review, 2013

Last night at 6pm, inside Martin Luther King, Jr. (PS 11) school on Bergen Avenue, three new members of Jersey City’s Board of Education (“BOE”) and one incumbent member were sworn into office.  The Board of Education is the governing body over the City’s 35+ public schools, which serve more than 28,000 students each year on […]

EMS & Ambulance Gap Analysis

The Jersey Journal reported on Friday, December 13, 2013 that Mayor Fulop and his administration want to  change Jersey City’s EMS provider.  I wrote a separate blog post here that goes into more background about both providers.   The Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) is the current EMS provider, and their current contract expires on December 31, […]

Ambulances, Politics, and Money

What defines a best-in-class ambulance and EMT service?  The Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) has an answer: the Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC).   What is the most expensive hospital in the United States?  The NY Times has an answer: Bayonne Medical Center, owned by CarePoint Health.   So…why is Jersey City looking to sever its […]

Why Use Twitter? To Follow Your Local Reporter, of Course

I often hear friends say “I don’t understand Twitter…” and then list a litany of reasons of why Twitter stinks.  But if you live in Jersey City, then here is one reason you should use Twitter: to follow Jersey Journal reporter Terrence McDonald. Twitter is a tool, like anything else.  You may not have much to […]

Let’s Get Civic

The genesis of CivicParent.org…. I live in Jersey City and on November 14, 2013 I learned that Mayor Fulop’s first abatement – the 3 towers planned for Journal Square – would not include dedicated funding for Jersey City public schools.  I also learned that five City Council members, all of whom were Fulop-endorsed candidates,  approved […]