State Sen. O'Toole seeks special meeting on Newark finances

By Naomi Nix | The Star-Ledger
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on August 07, 2014

Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Essex) is seeking a special meeting of the senate budget and appropriations committee to discuss Newark's finances.


TRENTON — State Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Essex) has asked Senate President Steve Sweeney to convene a special meeting of the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee to discuss Newark's finances.

In a letter addressed to Sweeney, O'Toole said today state legislators should meet with the "vested parties involved" to better understand Newark's financial needs in light of the city's budget deficit and the state's financial challenges.

"As a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, I believe that it will be beneficial to the members of our committee to better understand not only the financial needs of Newark, but also to obtain a more in depth knowledge of their finances," he wrote.

Neither Sweeney nor Newark Mayor Ras Baraka could immediately be reached for comment.

Baraka announced earlier this week that he is seeking aid from the state to address Newark’s looming budget crisis, even if it means accepting state oversight. Newark's city council approved the request Wednesday.

In April, Newark officials disclosed the city would need more than $93 million to balance its 2014 budget. Much of that deficit can be attributed to a shortfall between expenses and revenue in 2013 by about $30.1 million.

Baraka said in a statement on Tuesday that his administration is taking steps to reduce expenses and generate revenue.

And although the city may be able to narrow the 2014 budget deficit, Newark would still need an extra $28 million to $30 million to close the gap, Baraka said.

O'Toole wrote that since the state invests a significant amount of resources in Newark, state legislators should better understand how the city spends money.

"We, as stewards of the State's finances should begin the process of reviewing and intervening to ensure we not only provide the resources to help Newark and its residents thrive, but also to prevent the wasting of taxpayer dollars," he wrote.

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