Mayor Booker Urged by Council to Revise Rejected Budget Proposal

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Newark Municipal council members are calling on Mayor Cory Booker to revise his rejected $772 million budget proposal.

The city is facing a $57.5 million budget gap, but one of the mayor's fixes — a proposed 7 percent property tax increase — was a major sticking point for lawmakers, who rejected the proposal this week.

They say they were not forewarned that it would be bumped up from 4 percent just prior to the budget proposal being introduced.

"Four percent is not 7 percent," said Councilman Luis Quintana. "The little guy here who is on a fixed income with Social Security cannot afford it."

Councilmember Mildred Crump said instead of raising taxes on homeowners, Newark should consolidate city departments to save money and begin to tax universities, non-profits and churches to raise revenue.

"We're trying to keep people in our town, not drive them away," Crump said. "We want it to be a livable city." 

Quintana, a 17-year veteran of the municipal Council, has not voted for the mayor's budget proposals for years. He said he's still bitter about last year's budget, when 163 police officers were laid off despite an increase in property taxes.

"Crime is up, up and away," Quintana said.

In a statement, Booker said it was "difficult to understand" how the Council could reject a plan that maintained funding for libraries, senior services and youth programs.

The mayor is expected to reintroduce the budget at the council's next scheduled meeting on August 3.