South Ward Councilman published some of Trenton’s latest budget numbers on his Web site this past weekend, and the numbers certainly weren’t pretty.
A maelstrom of shrinking state aid and sagging local revenues have left the City of Trenton – under the great mismanagement of Mayor Douglas H. Palmer – with an $18.6 million decrease in total city revenue, from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2009.
One of the more peculiar drop-offs illustrated on Councilman Coston’s Web site was a sudden $14.3 million drop in an item called “Local Revenues”, which comes in at just over $19 million after sitting at the $33.6 million range in last year’s budget.
Coming in second, as far as revenue declines are concerned, was a drop in “Additional State Aid”, from $21 million to $19,100,000. Another state aid line item for over $16 million remained the same, but that only means that Trenton falls further behind as rises in costs and inflation mean last year’s dollars go even less further this year.
Perhaps most disturbing was that another in a long succession of property tax increases, this time for 13 cents per $100 of assessed value, only netted the city an additional $2.8 million in property tax revenue, from $48.2 million to $51 million.
Not only did this increase amount to little more than a dent in the city’s overall budget gap, but the city’s overall lack of revenue growth means that city residents will probably be subjected to similar tax increases for years to come.
The only other options the current government seems to be pursuing are requests made to the the already financially distressed state and federal governments for more dollars and the selling off of valuable city assets, like outlying Trenton Water Works infrastructure, for one-time infusions of cash.
This government simply won’t take the most obvious step and go in and reduce the size of the city’s bloated administration, through the elimination of some of the high-ranking and high-ranking support staff of Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, and their salaries, benefits, and municipal vehicles.
Until that happens, the city will continually be forced into levying ever-growing tax burdens, driving away residents and businesses at a time when Trenton needs to be attracting them.