Newark, New Jersey

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Newark is a New Jersey city in Essex County. It is the largest city in New Jersey with a population 277,140.[1] Newark leans heavily Democratic and gave Obama 91% of the vote in 2008.[2]

City council

Current members, Newark City Council
Ward Councilmember
North Anibal Ramos, Jr.
South Ras J. Baraka
East Augusto Amador
West Ronald C. Rice
Central Darrin S. Sharif
At-Large Mildred C. Crump
At-Large Carlos M. Gonzalez
At-Large John S. James
At-Large Vacant

Budget

The 2010 budget is $782.059.699.[3]To balance the 2010 budget Booker impose layoffs and benefit cuts.[4] 167 police offcers, or 13% was laid off.[5] He also started a four day workweek for 1,450 employees.[6]

Mayor Booker is expected to submit his 2011 budget by July 7. The City's deficit has reduced to $45 million from $71 million. The city is aiming to eliminate the structural deficit by 2013. The plan is estimated to be around $750 million.[7]

Appropriation Cost
Total Municipal $605,970,489
Total School $102,217,531
Total County $73,871,678
Total $782,059,699

Stimulus

Newark has received $141,099,505 from the economic stimulus package.[8]

Public Employees

Elected Officials

There are members of the City Council that are elected in a nonpartisan election. Four are elected at large and five represent different wards in the city. The term length is four years. Responsibilities[9]

  • Budget
  • Financial Controls
  • Setting salaries
First Last Position Ward
Donald Payne Jr. Council President At-Large
Augusto Amador Member East
Ras Baraka Member South
Mildred Crump Member At-Large
Carlos Gonzalez Member At-Large
Luis Quintana Member At-Large
Anibal Ramos Jr. Vice-President North
Ronald Rice Member West
Darrin Sharif Member Central

Administrative Officials

The mayor of Newark is Cory Booker. The mayor is elected in a nonpartisan election held every four years. He was first elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2011. He is responsible for carrying out the laws passed by municipal council.[10]

Mayor

Mayor Cory Booker is just the third mayor of Newark in the last thirty years after succeeding long time Mayor Sharpe James. Upon election Booker offered a 100-day plan to reorganize city governance including improving access to services.[11]

One of Booker's main priorities was reducing the city's crime rate and in 2010 the city had its first month without a murder since 1966.[12]

Booker has attempted to make himself accessible to residents of the city by allowing them to meet him face to face during "office hours." These used to be held once a week but had to be scaled back to once a month.[13] Booker was also named the second "most social mayor" in the country based on a study by Samepoint.[14]

Citing his commitment to Newark, Booker turned down President Obama's offer to run his new Office of Urban Affairs.[15]

Booker has been criticized for public employee salaries perceived as too generous. In 2009 Newark had 264 municipal employees who make $100,000 or more.[16] During that same year Booker instituted a 2% pay cut for public employees earning over $100,000 a year along with adding furlough days for some employees.[17]

Pensions

See also: New Jersey public pensions

Pension costs are rapidly engrossing more of Newark's budget. In 2011 pension costs will have risen 54% since 2009.[18]

The council has recently enacted some agreements with workers to change pension benefits. The administrative technical exempt personnel, the non-union hourly employees, and the management and supervisory personnel all received a one-time pay increase of 4.05% in exchange for elimination of their 5% pension package paid by the city.[19]


Public employee salaries

See also: Newark employee salaries

The 2010 budget spends $252,048,915.00 on salaries and wages.[20] The average salary for a Newark police officer is about $85,000 not including benefits such as being able to retire in their 50s with 70% of their income as a pension.[21]

Lobbying

Main article: New Jersey government sector lobbying

Newark spent $170,000 on lobbying the federal government the first two quarters of 2010.[22]

In 2011, the City of Newark spent $50,000 on lobbying with three different lobbying firms. This was $200,000 less than in 2010.[23]

Year Amount
2011 $50,000
2010 $250,000
2009 $120,000
2008 $220,000
2007 $240,000
2006 $120,000
2005 $120,000
2004 $120,000
2003 $120,000
2002 $120,000
2001 $120,000
2000 $120,000
1999 $80,000
1998 $70,000
Total $1,120,000

Transparency & public records

The New Jersey Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requires a person requesting access to government records to complete, sign, and date the request form adopted by the City of Newark.

The completed form can be submitted to the City Clerk's, OPRA Unit, Room 415A, City Hall, either in person, or by fax, email, or mail. The fax number is (973) 733-4893. Public records will normally be available within seven business days, though some records may be immediately available.[24]

Taxes

The property tax rate per $100 of assessed value in the 2010 budget was $2.934.[25] Property taxes are to go up roughly six percent in 2011. The average home value, $178,000, will create a property tax bill of just under $6,000.[26]

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngC-
Budget Y
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Meetings P
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning P
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Audits N
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Contracts P
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Lobbying N
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Public Records Y
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Local Taxes Y
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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Budget documents are posted.[27]
  • The Mayor and the Municipal Council members are listed with phone numbers and biographical information; email addresses are not posted but an email form is provided.[28][29]
  • Meeting schedule, agendas, and meeting details are posted. Minutes are not up-to-date.[30][31]
  • Administrators are listed with each department with contact information.
  • Open Public Records Act information and forms are provided.[32][33]
  • Zoning regulations are provided in the city Municipal Code.[34]
  • 2010 payroll tax booklet is provided.[35]
  • RFPs and bidding opportunities and purchasing procedures are posted; active contracts are not available.[36]
  • Tax information is available.[37]

The bad

  • The Building Permits Department is listed with phone number and location, but information regarding permits and the permits themselves are not available on the website.[38]
  • Audit reports are not posted.
  • Lobbying activities are not disclosed.
  • Check register is not posted.

Additional reading

External links

References

  1. "American Fact Finder" Census
  2. Election Results
  3. Budget
  4. "NJ.com" Mayor Cory Booker proposes massive layoffs, benefits cuts to offset $180M budget gap
  5. "Daily News" Stark Budget Math For Cities: Newark Forced To Choose Between Cops On The Beat and Sky-High Salaries
  6. "NJ.com" Newark Mayor Cory Booker announces 4-day work week for non-uniformed city workers
  7. "NJ.com" Cautious optimism in Newark as Cory Booker prepares to submit budget
  8. Stimulus
  9. Municipal Council
  10. Mayor
  11. "New York Times" Booker Has 100-Day Plan for Newark’s Reorganization
  12. "USA Today" Newark marks its first murder-free month in 44 years
  13. "New York Times" Access to Mayor Doesn’t Solve All Problems
  14. "SFGate" Newsom named country's "most social mayor"
  15. "Time" Why Cory Booker Likes Being Mayor of Newark
  16. "Time" Why Cory Booker Likes Being Mayor of Newark
  17. MARCH 31 - CITY PROPOSES PAY CUTS AND FURLOUGHS
  18. "NJ.com" Cautious optimism in Newark as Cory Booker prepares to submit budget
  19. Pension
  20. Budget
  21. "Daily News" Stark Budget Math For Cities: Newark Forced To Choose Between Cops On The Beat and Sky-High Salaries
  22. Newark on Open Secrets, 2010
  23. Open Secrets
  24. Open Records
  25. Budget
  26. "NJ.com" Cautious optimism in Newark as Cory Booker prepares to submit budget
  27. 2010 Budget
  28. Municipal Council
  29. Mayor's Office
  30. Meeting Calendar
  31. Agendas
  32. Public Access to Government Records
  33. OPRA Forms
  34. Municipal Code
  35. Payroll Tax Booklet
  36. Doing Business with the City
  37. Tax
  38. City Departments