Dear Jersey City Municipal Council,
Our city is facing immense challenges today.
A resident, Andrew Jerome Washington was killed by our police earlier this month during a mental health crisis. Based on the information released to date, it is unfathomable to believe that the situation could not have had a better outcome with Mr. Washington not being killed.
While our city administration rejected the successful state program, ARRIVE Together that has been implemented in Newark and Elizabeth and might have prevented his senseless death, our municipal council approved hiring a community crisis response center back in April 2022 that might have also prevented the killing but our administration failed to implement it. Our council made the effort and the administration failed.
Can our council now provide a vote of no confidence and call for the Director of Public Safety to resign and be replaced in response to that failure?
Can our council bring ARRIVE Together to be implemented in Jersey City, now that we had a horrible example as to why the program is sorely needed?
Now moving on to Jersey City’s fiscal future as the council considers a tax abatement for the first building in the Bayfront redevelopment project.
The building includes more than one third below market rate housing defined as “affordable.” NJ Together fought hard with the administration to achieve the 35% of affordable houseing. This would seem to meet the standard to subsidize a project that would not otherwise get built and warrants a tax abatement.
However, it is important that the city learn from lessons of the past and its reckless use of tax abatements that ended up severely underfunding our schools by distorting our taxes.
To correct and prevent the past mistakes, I urge the council to approve companion legislation to ensure that the tax abatement revenue or PILOT payments from any Bayfront abatement agreements be allocated as are my taxes, 45% to the Board of Education. 19% to the County, and 36% to the municipality.
Daniel Levin is a member of the Jersey City Times Advisory Board. The opinions expressed in this letter are his own.