Newark council members urges budget passage to avoid emergency aid

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger
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on January 08, 2014

Central Ward councilman Darrin Sharif, pictured in this file photo, urged the city to pass a budget quickly.


NEWARK — Newark City Council members urged Mayor Luis Quintana's administration to introduce a budget quickly today to avoid the need for emergency state aid.

"Until we know how big that gap is ... it gives them undue leverage," Central Ward Councilman and mayoral candidate Darrin Sharif said today at the council's first official meeting of 2014. "This can't be like it is every year where we make a (budget) request and time elapses."

Council members were reacting to a letter from state Local Government Services director Thomas Neff's letter, detailed in The Star-Ledger, that chided Quintana for ignoring a memorandum of understanding between the state and city and warned of a $30 million projected deficit in the city's 2014 budget.

After taking $32 million in emergency state aid in 2011 and 2012, the city was required to get approval from the state for all new hires. Quintana flouted the agreement and announced he would hire a spate of new directors and staff before the memorandum expired on Dec. 31.

Today Councilman Carlos Gonzalez questioned whether the city would face fines for possible "illegal" hires.

"There is no potential illegality with regard to the hirings because we are no longer under the MOU," said city business administrator Julien Neals.

"There is a budget gap that we will have to fill," Gonzalez said, questioning what happens if Newark has to ask the state for money again.

Council president Mildred Crump said she would call an emergency meeting to deal with the budget and the state's displeasure.

"This is an emergency," she said. "But there are solutions."

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